Imagine: You peer into the fridge hoping to discover a variety of meals to munch on, only to find a bunch of ingredients waiting to be chopped, roasted, or sautéed. And so you might opt for the grab-and-go option instead, which, oftentimes, is not the healthiest or the most satisfying.
Sure, in the grand scheme of things, cutting up, say, a whole red bell pepper doesn’t require too much energy (it typically takes five minutes, max). But when you have a time crunch or you’re itching to eat something, like, right now, those precious minutes do matter. I know if I don’t have that bell pepper prepped and ready to go, I’ll usually scrounge through the pantry and find a less healthy option instead.
All that to say: Meal prep is key. That’s because convenience is such a big part of eating healthy—when you have nutritious options within arm’s reach, you’re more likely to choose those filling fruits and veggies. Long agrees: “Studies have shown that when families just put healthy food in sight, they are consistently eating better,” she says.
Open my fridge, and you’ll see containers of grilled chicken, sliced avocado, some homemade black bean croutons, and a few dairy-free cheeses all ready to go. Throw all of these ingredients onto a bed of lettuce, and you’ve got yourself a healthy salad in a matter of minutes. Make prep work a part of your weekly routine—it really does make a difference.