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One Dietitian Explains Why Meal Prepping Is So Important

Why Should Runners Meal Prep?

Meal prepping has become one of the hottest trends in the nutrition world. You’ve probably seen Instagram posts of people prepping their meals for the week and evenly dividing them among perfectly portioned containers. If you’re like me, you may thinking, “How the heck do they do that?” Fellow dietitian Toby Amidor, MS, RD just wrote a new cookbook to make meal prepping a little easier for the everyday Jane. The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals To Cook, Prep, Grab and Go breaks down the secrets of meal prepping, including how and why it should be a part of your runner’s diet. I had a chance to interview Toby about this trendy topic; here’s what she had to say.

Related: 5 Healthy Cookbooks That Were Made Just For Runners

Why should runners try prepping their meals ahead of time?

Between work, family and running, getting healthy recipes on the table can get stressful, especially during the busy workweek. You don’t want to be unprepared and end up grabbing last-minute unhealthy takeout. It’s a much better option to be organized and have healthy meals pre-planned.

Meal prep can also save you money. If you pre-plan what you’re going to cook, you can create a shopping list with those ingredients only and purchase accordingly. I like to purchase meat and other ingredients in bulk and then divide them into recipe portions. This helps stretch my food dollar.

Prepping meals on one weekend day can also help save you time, especially during the busy workweek. Although you will spend some time in the kitchen on the set day of your choosing, you won’t be slaving over a hot stove for hours during the week. Plus, there won’t be much cleanup on those busy weeknights. That extra 30 to 60 minutes can be spent running!

Do you think meal prepping helps people make healthier choices?

Meal prep can absolutely help folks make healthier choices. Stopping at a fast food joint or hitting up the vending machine will be a thing of the past. When you’re armed with prepared meals and snacks, these unhealthy eating habits start to disappear.

Meal prepping can also help you control portions, which is important on any healthy eating plan. When you pack the meal for the week, it’s easier to divide the food and account for portions. Each of my recipes provides exact measurements for portions to help make your life easier.

What’s the difference between meal prep for a runner versus someone else?

In order to maintain energy and stay in tip-top shape, runners need to fuel their bodies properly with nourishing food. Planning and preparing meals with lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and healthy fat enables runners to meet their demanding nutrient needs. (Editor’s note: Meal prepping for a runner also has the added value of saving time and mental energy worrying about making food for the week. When you’re knee-deep in training, it’s easier to have everything set aside and know you’ve planned your recovery fuel appropriately.)

For someone who doesn’t meal prep at all, trying to prep a whole week’s worth of food can be overwhelming. What are some easy ways to begin meal prepping to get the hang of it?

If you’re new to meal prepping, here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Start simple. Begin with simple meals that are easy to pull off. The recipes you’ll find in The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook usually contain seven to 10 easy to find ingredients. Over time, you’ll start to master the recipes and can add more ingredients or switch recipes from week to week.
  2. Use ingredients you already have. Meal prepping should make your life as easy as possible—and using common, easy to find ingredients is just another way of accomplishing that. Many of the recipes in my book use ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
  3. Have the right storage containers. A good storage container helps protect the flavor, color and texture of the food. The right container reduces the food’s exposure to air, which helps maintain the quality of the meal. Choose containers that are leak-proof, stackable and BPA-free. Some of my favorite brands include Ball glass mason jars and OXO LockTop containers.

To try meal prepping, pre-order the cookbook or try this Coconut Lime Flounder in Parchment Paper recipe from the book.

Image of coconut lime flounder in parchment paper dish, from Toby Amidor’s new book The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Pre, Grab, and Go.

Related:

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The Story Behind Highly Anticipated “Run Fast Eat Slow” Cookbook

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Natalie Rizzo

Natalie Rizzo

Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and nutrition communications expert, specializing in sports nutrition. Natalie has written for many food and nutrition publications, such as Eating Well, Spright and Food & Nutrition Magazine, and she has been featured in Fitness Magazine, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. Natalie received her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. When she’s not writing, she’s creating delicious recipes, running and helping other runners reach their peak potential through food. To learn more about Natalie and read about sports nutrition topics, visit her blog, Nutrition à la Natalie or follow her on Twitter.