Why I Prefer Meal Planning VS Meal Prepping

 

Meal planning and meal prepping, what’s the difference? They ARE similar, but they aren’t the same. 

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Meal planning is the activity of planning your meals for a certain amount of time. That means picking the actual foods and recipes you’re going to make and have for the week. For me that includes curating a grocery list inclusive of all the ingredients I need for the meal plan. For example, for the next 7 days I have picked out all of my breakfast, lunch and dinner foods and recipes and shopped for those ingredients.


Meal prepping takes the steps listed above and goes further. Meal prepping means you prepare all of your meals ahead of time for a certain timeframe. For example, if I’m meal prepping, then I am not only planning my meals for the week, but I’m also picking a day to make every one of those meals so they are done ahead of time. 



Now, let me tell you why I prefer meal planning over meal prepping.

  1. Meal planning keeps me organized throughout the week and prevents us from eating out while giving me an opportunity to enjoy a small amount of cooking each day

  2. Most of the time I don’t like eating the same thing every day. By meal planning I can use the same ingredients in a dish and arrange them a different way another time during the week. For example, I might have a taco salad one night and then want a burrito bowl another night. Both of those dishes have about 75% of the same ingredients, but by giving me the creative room to rearrange my ingredients, I feel like I’m having a completely different meal. That is more difficult to do if you’ve pre-portioned out one batch meal into storage containers.

  3. I waste more food when I meal prep. When I get bored with the same pre-prepared meals sitting in my fridge I ignore them. And when I ignore them they go bad and I waste the meal. By having more room to change up ingredients, adding things or omitting things, I’m interested again. 



But here’s where the magic really is: meal planning AND minimal meal prep!

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Yes, you can do both and let me tell you how I do it.

  • After I strategically meal plan, and by that I mean plan meals with common main ingredients, seasonal produce and with simplicity in mind, I then make batches of the big ingredients like tempeh, tofu, quinoa, roasted veggies and any sauces and use them in all of my meals throughout the week. For example, I made a big batch of peanut tempeh last week and I used it in a salad and a quinoa bowl. Two different meals, same protein option.

  • I also often times pre-wash and pre-cut my veggies, especially salad greens so I don’t spend time on that during the week.

  • Then when I am making a meal or snack on the fly, I can clearly see the batch items in my refrigerator and throw something healthy together quickly!


So there you have it, I prefer meal planning every week over fully meal prepping, but I use prepping strategies to save me time throughout the week with cooking.

Do you meal plan or prep? Or both? I want to here your strategies.

 
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