If you wish you had more time in the day, then you’ve probably thought about the amount of time you spend planning meals, cooking, and eating food. There are some ways around this apparently wasted time, from ordering takeout to consuming a nutritionally-complete drink like Huel. However, these come with their drawbacks, being either unhealthy, costly, or both. If you still want to eat nutritious, homecooked food, then meal prepping is your best option.
Meal prep involves creating several meals in one go, then storing them in the fridge, taking one out when you need it. You can either eat it straight away or toss it in the microwave for a fast hot meal, which is both healthy and delicious. Many people struggle with meal prep, though, so here’s how it can optimize your remote workday and how to form consistent meal prep habits.
How Much Time Can Meal Prepping Save?
Most meal preppers agree that it saves them time. However, the total amount of time saved will vary significantly. First of all, you still have to make the food. Therefore, you’re not so much saving time as moving it around. Nevertheless, this leads to a more productive lifestyle. This is due to something called time blocking, which should already be a part of your optimal remote work schedule.
During meal prep, you’re focused solely on creating the best meals. You’re not in work mode so you can think carefully about what ingredients you use. Then, during the workweek, you don’t lose momentum by expending brain power on cooking. You just eat what was already prepared, meaning that your focus can stay on your work tasks and you can take shorter breaks. There’s no real research on how much time meal prepping saves but studies suggest that it improves your overall diet, which will certainly give you a few more years on this planet.
Set a Specific Time for Meal Prep
Like many productivity hacks, you need to take the time to consistently make meal prepping part of your weekly schedule. That means adding it to your to-do list and blocking out a time when you’ll get it done. Depending on how many meals you’re making and how much cooking is involved, meal prepping can take between 10 minutes and two hours. Make sure you set aside this time. For remote workers, scheduling productivity tasks is as important as making time for work tasks.
Some time on Sunday is usually the most convenient time for meal prep. This gives you time to make all the meals you’ll want to eat throughout the workweek. Make sure you have plenty of high-quality containers around and start putting together your meals. It can be a hassle but like hoovering the carpets or putting on a load of laundry, this can become part of a consistent weekly routine. You just need to schedule it so that it can become a habit.
Colors, Not Calories
How, then, do you actually go about creating meals? For most meal preppers, health is key. This is especially true for remote workers, who understand the connection between balanced, nutritious meals and productivity. You need foods that can provide you with the energy and focus needed to complete all your tasks quickly and to the highest standards. Most nutrition experts agree that a good variety of whole foods is the healthiest option.
In order to achieve the right balance, stop counting calories and start counting colors. Assuming your containers are filled with fruit, vegetables, beans, grains, legumes, protein, and healthy fats, the more colors you have, the better. Each color represents a different health benefit.
Red foods are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, as are yellow and orange foods, which also improve vision and boost your immune system. White vegetables like mushrooms lower cholesterol while green foods are loaded with vitamin K, improving bone health. Your blue and purple foods such as blueberries and eggplants can improve your memory, boost urinary tract health, and foster a healthy aging process.
Keep Your Pantry Stocked Up
Your pantry is the source of all these wonderful meals so be sure to keep it stocked with healthy whole foods that’ll last a long time. Bulk buy these items in advance, then you won’t need to go to the grocery store for a while. You’ll have everything you need to quickly whip up a nutritious meal. Importantly, make sure you have a wide variety of spices. This is what keeps your meals interesting, creating diversity, and making sure you actually enjoy eating them.
Grains like rice, pasta, and quinoa are incredibly cheap when bought in bulk and can act as the basis for a wide range of meals. Similarly, beans and other legumes are healthy, filling, and provide energy to get you through the workday. Canned food is cheapest and long-lasting, so look for tinned tomatoes, tinned fruit, and even cans of meat and fish. Keep plenty of healthy fats in your pantry, too, such as peanut butter, almond oil, and nuts.
Track Your Meals
If you’re serious about your meal prepping, then a spreadsheet goes a long way. This is where you can note down any meals you make and keep notes on them. Link to the recipe so that you can always find it easily. Then, after each week, be sure to rate each meal. You can score it out of five or just note down whether you liked or disliked it. Over time, you’ll build up a bank of recipes that you love while cutting out or tweaking the ones that didn’t quite work. The key to meal prepping is keeping it interesting and making the process as cheap, easy, and quick as you can. Keeping records helps you to do this.
Meal prepping allows you to utilize time-blocking more, create healthier, productivity-boosting meals, and prevent distractions during the workday. As a result, there’s no doubt that it can be an effective way to give you more time during the week. Plus, the physical and mental health benefits will increase your lifespan.
Pro Tip: You Can Still Meal Prep When Traveling
The important thing is to make sure your accommodation has a well-equipped kitchen so that you can implement the meal prep tips listed above. Anyplace Select apartments are a great option for remote workers and digital nomads – you’ll not only have a full kitchen stocked with appliances and crockery, but you’ll also have a home office with all the gear you need to be successful and productive in your new location.
Where to next? Find flexible month-to-month rentals across the globe on Anyplace.