Growing up with batch cooking
Meal prepping has always been a part of my life in some from. While I was growing up my dad would go on business trips during the week. To make the weekly routine a little easier my mom would batch cook all the dinners for the week at once and store it in one large container. Her goal was to do dinner by 6:00, bath by 7:00, and bed by 8:00 for my younger brother and I.
At 8 years old I learned the definition of the word “vegetarian” and I was like, that’s what I want to be! I don’t really like the taste of meat and I was excited to learn more about cooking without it. Fruits and vegetables have always been what I enjoyed eating. Later I transitioned to eating plant-based!
My freshman year of college I lived on campus in a dorm and the school required me to have a meal plan through the dinning hall. Sophomore year I moved off campus into an apartment. Excited to have my own kitchen, I looked forward to cooking yummy meals with fresh ingredients. I was a double major with Dance and Business so if I didn’t eat well before one of my dance classes (which involved a lot of cardio) my stomach would hurt. I was trying to balance two majors, working, and learning to cook for myself.
The turning point
Late one night I came back to my apartment after finishing my accounting homework. Exhausted from rehearsals, I just wanted to crawl into bed but I still needed to put together my lunch for the next day. The thought of doing one more thing after my busy day was too much. I broke down crying in front of my fridge–that was it, I knew I needed a change and there was no way I could cook everyday.
I remembered how my mom would batch cook meals when I was younger. Putting everything in a big container wouldn’t work for me. I needed it individually portioned so I could grab my lunch for the day on the way out the door. After researching meal prep, I bought some mason jars to get started with some layered salads.
Meal prepping saved me so much time during the week. I also found the time spent chopping vegetables and cooking was relaxing. After some practice I was able to go to the grocery store, meal prep very simple recipes and clean the dishes in 2 hours.
Meal prepping for two
During my last semester of college I was dating a wonderful guy who also happened to be a double major, he studied Business and Engineering while working. Suffice to say we were both pressed for time. Aside from the classes we took together the only time we would get to hang out would be when we went to the grocery store and meal prepped. The meaningful conversations we had while meal prepping together grew our relationship with one another. Eventually, once we decided to get married, meal prepping became a special time of dreaming about our future life together.
Why I continue to meal prep
After graduating college and getting married we moved to the NYC area so I could pursue my dreams of being a professional contemporary dancer. Thankfully I had more time to research and try out more recipes, you can tell we ate a lot of salad in college. (Vegan meal prep can be so much more than just salads, but with the right ingredients salads can be delicious and filling.) Now our commute into the city takes about an hour door to door (twice a day). As working professionals with a long commute we continue to meal prep. It prevents us from getting stressed or asking each other every day, “what do you want to eat for dinner?” When we get home we can heat up dinner and enjoy spending time together instead of cooking and cleaning the kitchen every night.
Saving time & money
Meal prepping saves so much time. It also saves a lot of money. Each of our lunches only costs a couple of dollars. In NYC to get an apple salad it can cost $20.00! I can make five apple salads and a homemade dressing for the same price. Many young professionals eat out for every meal, that was never an option for my budget. Making my own coffee at home also saves hundreds of dollars each year, and I am pretty picky about how I like my coffee anyways.
Meal prepping is great because I know all the ingredients that go into each meal. I love choosing a variety of colorful and fresh produce. I know what kind of food gives me the energy I need to do the things I love (like dancing and working out!) What I eat has such an impact on how I feel! I want to feel energized, not sluggish and like I need to take a nap after eating.
I hope this blog can be helpful and serve others on their journey to meal prepping! Meal prepping has always held a special place in my heart because of the memories I created while cooking with the people I love. Meal prepping is a tool that helps make more time for what’s really important, spending time with friends and family. Share how you started meal prepping and why in the comments! If you are new to meal prepping ask a question below!