How To Meal Prep To Avoid Pandemic Weight Gain
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on people's diets. According to the New York Times, a global survey has confirmed that the pandemic has dramatically changed the way we eat and exercise. Stress and anxiety lead to binge-eating and irregular sleep that cause weight gain. Limited access to gyms also contributes to this so-called "pandemic weight gain."
Adults, children, and even pets have gained an average of three to 15 pounds, reports Northwestern Medicine. One way to help you regulate your weight is by meal prepping. Meal prepping is simply organizing your food according to your diet plan and schedule. You do this by cooking in big batches and making individual portions for easy and controlled access to meals.
Benefits of Meal Prepping
Apart from saving time and money, meal prepping helps you meet your weight goals. Since you plan your meals in advance, your grocery list will be limited to the ingredients that you need. This will help lower the opportunity for unhealthy snacking and encourage you to stick to your goals. This is not to say that you can't indulge in chips and ice cream once in a while. Popcorn and almond butter are healthy snack options. You can also make a yummy yogurt dip for carrot sticks.
How To Meal Prep
Before cooking up a storm, make sure you have reusable and airtight containers to store your meals. Good Housekeeping suggests Pyrex glass containers for their durability and varied sizes. These containers are also microwave, oven, and dishwasher-safe. Mason jars are also a great option.
Choose the meal you'd like to prepare. If you have a big family, you can even assign the best cook for each meal. One can be the breakfast cook, and another can be assigned for lunch and dinner. You can then pick a day to do your cooking. Sunday and Wednesday are the most common meal prep days.
Figure out how much you want to prepare. If you tend to get sick of eating the same things over and over, prepare a variety of food of meals and stick them in the freezer. You can also just prep meals for the next couple of days, then make another batch with different ingredients.
Meal Prep Ingredients Guide
These ingredients work best for meal prepping:
Whole grains - oats, barley, quinoa, buckwheat
Pulses - chickpeas, peas, beans, lentils
Nuts and Seeds - peanuts, walnuts, almonds, chia, pumpkin seeds, flax
Lean proteins - eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, canned or frozen seafood, lean beef, chicken, turkey, and pork
Greens - lettuce, other salad greens (separate dressing)
Frozen vegetables - cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, peas, broccoli, green beans
Starchy vegetables - potato, taro, sweet potato, parsnips
Fresh vegetables - carrots, celery, cabbage, bell peppers, radish
Whole fruits - apples, oranges, bananas, peaches, pears, clementines, plums