Meal Prep: What Is It and How To Do It?
Watching what you eat may prove to be a bit tricky, especially in Singapore.
Singapore, unlike many other countries, has extraordinary convenience when it comes to obtaining various food at affordable prices. Paired together with the common stressful and fast-paced lifestyle, one has little time to prepare proper meals for themselves at home. Unfortunately, many tips for eating clean often lead back to cooking for yourself.
So, how would a Singaporean go about acquiring healthy food without sacrificing their precious free time? The answer: Meal Preparation (or meal prep for short).
A Brief History of Meal Prep
Meal prep stems from Japanese culture since the 12th century where lunch boxes (bento) were made in the morning and kept within sectioned containers for consumption later that day.
However, these meals only lasted a day and still required daily cooking. It was only until the advent of the 21st century when effective and sanitary refrigeration and containment was more accessible.
Until recent years, advanced meal prep was only being practiced by gym-goers who wanted quick, easy and cheap access to healthy food. The general public, however, was afraid of the risk of food spoilage, a mindset that stemmed from the late 20th century.
However, with social media, meal prep began to gain traction amongst the public. Meal prep, with its convenience and price, was viewed as a great way to lose weight and train discipline by many health enthusiasts.
How to Meal Prep
To start meal prepping, there a few things that you should do before rushing to the kitchen.
Analyse your situation – What is your weekday like? Do you have access to a microwave at work or school? How much are you spending on eating out every month? What is your budget for meals? Are you okay with eating the same lunch/dinner for multiple, consecutive days? Which day are you free to cook for long hours?
Identify your goal – Are you meal prepping to eat healthy, gain muscle mass, lose weight or to save money and time?
Plan a meal and research – What do you feel like eating? How much will the ingredients cost? Will your food last 3-4 days in the freezer or fridge? Is the meal in line with your goal? Will you have time in the morning to “cook” your meals?
Acquiring the important things – About 4 Tupperware containers and an insulating bag.
Once steps 1 to 4 are completed, you can start to buy your groceries and start preparing to cook. There are two ways you can go about meal prepping.
Hot Preparation – Follow the recipe to the finished product.
Cold Preparation – Following the recipe up until heat is needed.
Method A allows you to completely skip any further preparation, simply grab and go. The downside is that your meal will last only a maximum of 4 days before it is unsafe to eat (especially if you do not use the freezer; using a freezer means you would have to defrost it which will take some time as well).
Method B allows you to keep your meals for the entire week and it’ll continue to remain relatively fresh. The downside, however, is that you’ll have to cook for 20-30 minutes before heading off to work or school.
Whichever method you desire, the end result will be similar, you have taken the first steps of diet discipline which will follow you through your journey to living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
In addition, you may also consult our in-house dietitian at ML've for a personalized diet!
(Updated : December, 2019)
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