8 Scientific Benefits of Meal Prepping

Rows of identical multicolored meals packed neatly in glass containers on TikTok and Instagram may have made meal prep popular, but there’s more to this practice than meets the eye. Planning, prepping, and sometimes cooking several days’ worth of meals ahead of time has a number of proven advantages, from saving you time to helping you get a wider variety of nutrients in your diet.

“I definitely think meal prepping helps us with just living well in general,” says Basheerah Enahora, RDN, owner of BE Nutrition in Charlotte, North Carolina. “When we put some thought into it, we’re more likely to pick up really nutrient-rich foods from the grocery store. We have a list that’s decided in advance.”

And when you eat at home, that means you’re not eating out — a practice that, research shows, can have negative health impacts if overindulged. For example, a study published in April 2020 in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that less than 0.1% of restaurant meals were of ideal quality, as defined by the American Heart Association, meaning they didn’t have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean poultry, and nuts, nor did they consistently limit sugary drinks, sweets, and processed meats.

If you’re new to meal prepping, it’s important to create a plan that works for you. “People feel that a meal plan has to be this rigid structure, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that,” says Enahora. You could prep and pack everything on Sundays, like some people do, but if that’s not your style, choose a day that works for you, or spread the prep work out however makes the most sense for your schedule. Flexibility is key.

By Percy