How is it that chopping veggies and putting them into little containers can be so life changing?
It sounds absurd, doesn’t it?! If someone told me 2 years ago that I would be so dramatically affected by the simple change to meal prepping and planning, I would have laughed at them. Laughed hard, and probably even snorted a little bit.
I started this little habit about 2 years ago with the goal of weight loss. It had a side effect of making my food budget tighter, and creating a lot of happy in my life too… but it actually goes deeper than that.
When I think about what has happened in my life in the last 2 years not only physically, but to my whole perspective on life, and the way I manage my life, I see that the habit of meal prepping had a few surprising effects that have dramatically changed my life.
#1 – Bye Bye mindless eating, hello MINDFUL eating.
I know that I am not the only one that struggles with a relationship with food.
Meal prepping and planning has helped me become thoughtful about what I am putting in my body and in front of my family. This habit has allowed me to focus my obsession with food in a positive way. When you plan your week of food, you make better food choices. You think with your head, and not your stomach. You are making a conscious decision of what is going in front of your family. You stop letting your busy life be an excuse for poor habits.
Meal prepping and planning rekindled my relationship with food. I shifted from eating what was readily available and fast, to creating food that was readily available and fast. To do that, I had to learn how to create new recipes with new foods. Turns out Big Macs are not good as prep ahead! I spend a lot of time learning how to cook “new to me” foods on you tube, and learning about “new to me” foods. Helllooooo quinoa and dragon fruit?!
I notice that when it is meals I have created, I have more of an appreciation for food. I seek better ingredients. I wonder where my ingredients come from. I have become friends with local farmers and have amazing conversations about where my food is coming from (more on this to come!). I have become OBSESSED with learning to catch my own fish – but that is a whole ‘nother story!
Food isn’t just stuff I put in my body to get full anymore. As a result, I make better choices and eat some amazing stuff!
#2 – Organization of my whole week – beyond the kitchen
Many people are drawn to the habit of meal prepping and planning in an effort to become more organized in the kitchen. You want a fridge and freezer like this…
You don’t want to be scrambling at 5pm in a furry of hungry people. Well, meal prep and planning will help you there. But… it doesn’t just stop at the kitchen.
During my planning and prepping, I am forced to look at my week ahead. What is going on in the evenings? Who has baseball and when this week? What nights do my husband or I have business meetings? Who is travelling that week? Who is going to the gym right after work and needs dinner on the fly?
When I sit down to plan our meals, I am also planning the activities of the whole week. It forced my husband and I to talk about what the week looks like for both of us and our small human.
Ahhh we both have business meetings on Wednesday. Do we have a babysitter? Can one of us re-book? Oh, one of us is out of town this week! Is the other ready to take the small human where she needs to be? Who is up for daycare pick up?
Meal prepping made me plan my whole week – beyond food. It makes my husband and I sit down and talk about what is going on in the week ahead. Oh yeah, I have that meeting presentation that I am terrified about. He reassures me that I am good at what I do, and that I am making it worse in my head than it needs to be. These Sunday conversations – unrelated to food – make our lives work a bit smoother. We have our plans made on Sunday night and it alleviates crazy scrambling during the week.
My life is now a bit more organized – outside of my kitchen.
#3 – Self Care… What is that?
Seriously, I did not even know what self care was until recently. Every woman, no, every person needs to learn the concept of self care. I had absolutely no idea that this little habit of mine had become my therapy. My self care.
Practicing self care means taking actions to serve YOU. To take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. Meal prepping touched on all of this for me.
I had the absolute pleasure to co-host a seminar with Kelsey Davidson, a success coach and creator of Alive Fitness & Wellness. We had joined forces to co host a seminar about setting yourself up for a successful week. My job was to talk about how meal prep and planning can set you up for a success each week.
Little did I know that I would have major life revelation WHILE HOSTING an event. To me, meal prep was a pretty mechanical thing that I would do once a week to organize my life. It is what crazy neurotic people do, right. Well… what I had done (unconsciously!) was find a way to practice self care.
Meal prepping and planning was my time to STOP AND SLOW DOWN. If you know me in real life, you know I have 2 gears. Crazy ambitious person that doesn’t stop…… and sleeping. I am not very good at the in between. I am now.
Sunday is my time to STOP and think. What does the week have in store. Oh, yea I am worried about A,B,C and should call a friend to talk me off that ledge. Wow, yea, this week is a bit nuts, and I need to drop about 10 things. This habit has made me think each week – can I handle all of this in just this one week? Do I need to handle all of this? What’s important? What can wait? Meal planning forces me to stop. think. evaluate.
Meal prepping is also telling myself that I am worthy of my own freaking time! MY time. I get to stop and plan what I want to eat. Not run through a drive thru and eat whatever is available. I am worth MY OWN time.
Wow eh. Who knew.
I am sure that not everyone will have these same revelations, but if you too struggle with a relationship with food, struggle to organize your life week to week, or don’t practice self care, maybe the simple habit of meal prepping and planning could be the next step to help you get there too.
So, there you have it…. The three most unexpected things that happened to me when I started to meal prep and plan!
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