It’s no secret that people love to meal prep. With all the different Instagram tags + profiles [@mealpreponfleek] it is easy to find inspiration to get your meals ready for the week. But for those who still enjoy cooking nightly there is also meal planning. This helps take the *guesswork* out of what to cook + instead allows you to get right in the kitchen groove. We’re breaking down meal plan vs. meal prep + helping you find your fit in the kitchen.
Meal planning, or menu planning, sounds pretty self-explanatory + simple. But it does take a certain amount of effort to pick your meals + make sure you have all the ingredients you need. Find a day that fits in your schedule to sit down + find yummy recipes. From there, you’ll want to create a shopping list + hit the stores! Depending on your style // town you might find yourself going to a few different stores [including one of our faves — Whole Foods] to find all your ingredients. Once you’re home, get organized! Make sure you have recipes in an easy to find place + all groceries are in their designated spot. If you choose, you can start plugging in your snacks + meals into an app or food journal [depending on your set up].
Keep in mind that meal planning means [almost] all of your foods – snacks + desserts included ; ).It is super easy to work these into your day + to shop for them while you’re already at the store! Having these planned will also help keep you on track with your goals in the long run. Of course, if a brownie sundae is screaming your name but you didn’t plan for it — that should not stop you from indulging! You can keep up with your plan + goals without depriving yourself of your favorite treat!
Meal prep takes meal planning a few steps further. Once you have all your ingredients + are organized — it is time to start cooking! People can spend 1.5+ hours meal prepping in the kitchen. This includes cooking the meals + portioning them out into easy grab + go containers. Once complete you have your meals for the week + can grab what you need on the way out the door! If you’re worried about having the same thing repeatedly, you can prep different foods + different options. Switch up your protein source + sides. Package them together for easy meals, or proteins + sides separately so you can mix + match based on your mood. You can also utilize different sauces // dressings to help shake up the flavor of your dishes.
PROS + CONS
As always, there are pros + cons to both meal planning + prepping. With planning, you might end up having a busy night + your plan gets a bit altered. In prep you might find you didn’t have enough food for the week, or have *too much* of the same. A bonus with meal planning is that you can do this no matter what — meal plan in a dining hall? No problem, look at the menus ahead of time! Traveling for work [or fun ; )], sketch a brief outline of what you might have for each meal. You might not always have complete control, but you can use different habits that you pick up along the way when you’re schedule might be altered.
FIND YOUR FIT
You might not know right away if you’re a *planner* or a *prepper*. The beauty is you can mix + match + test out different methods that work for you. Not sure if you want to prep the whole week on a Sunday? Break your prep into two days. Having trouble planning healthy options in the dining halls? Plan a trip to your market to give yourself different options during the day. Take time to test out your options + find the routine that fits your goals ++ schedule.
We can’t wait to see you find your fit in the kitchen! Share with us your favorite meal plan + prep tips on Instagram using the hashtag #CHAARGEATS. Happy eating!
++Virginia [@notwestVirginia] // Charlotte, NC