Why I Quit Weekly Meal Prep

If you’re serious about your nutrition, most people would say you need to prep your food on the weekend (typically Sundays) to prepare for the coming week. Until recently, I would have agreed that this was an important step in getting ready for the week. It was one of my tricks for fitting it all in a busy week.

Then I stopped. And I realized how much stress was removed from my weekend. Maybe weekly meal prep isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be?

Why I Quit Weekly Meal Prep

When You Should Quit Weekly Meal Prep

At the beginning of the year, we started spending at least one day most weekends in the mountains for snowboarding adventures. Saturdays were precious and awesome. So much fun, so little time. Then Sunday would hit and I would cram everything I still needed to do into that one day.

By 3PM, I was a stressed mess. Realizing I always had so much to do and 2-3 hours would be dedicated to meal prep. If I didn’t have that time, my whole week would be shot. By 10PM, I might be finished, but I was wiped out. I would have spent my whole day “getting things done”, with little time to actually rest from the week.

I decided to take stock of my day and where I was spending my time. What did I enjoy and what could be shifted to another time. The biggest chunk of time was spent planning my meals for the week, grocery shopping, and then prepping all those meals for the upcoming week. I wasn’t enjoying cooking and that is unusual for me.

Then I decided to try something different. What if I stopped prepping all my meals at once? Instead, I could prep just a few days of food at once. The first week I tried this, I was worried I would run out of time. The thing is – I didn’t! Every week it’s gotten even easier and I reclaimed a BIG chunk of my weekend.

4 Tips for Quitting Weekly Meal Prep

Tips for quitting weekly meal prep:

  1. Plan a breakfast that can be made in the morning – less than 10 minutes from start to finish.
  2. Plan simple meals for during the day. These are the meals you will prep ahead, just a few days at a time.
  3. If you want a more elaborate meal, save that for dinner and know you’ll want more time to prep.
  4. Enlist your (or kids) spouse for help!

This wasn’t the only change I made to my Sunday, but it was the largest impact on my time. I also have moved my meal planning to earlier in the week (Ideally a little at a time) and Kirk has been doing the grocery shopping. These changes add up in a big way!

When Weekly Meal Prep Is a Good Idea

Now I don’t think my approach works for everyone. In fact I think there are times when using the weekly meal prep makes a lot of sense.

If you’re just starting a structured nutrition plan, the weekly meal prep can help you get used to the change. Especially if you’ve been making excuses to not stick to your plan.

If you find joy in the weekly meal prep, there’s also no reason to stop! For me, it was taking the joy out of cooking, so moving away is right for me, right now.

If getting your meal prep out of the way is lowering your stress level, prepping is a good thing for you. I don’t think there’s one answer that applies to everyone. My goal was to lower stress by quitting meal prep, so you should keep doing it if the result is opposite for you.

What other reasons can you think of where weekly meal prep is the right decision? Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

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Questions for you:

  • Do you meal prep? How does it fit into your schedule?

Comments

    • says

      My hubby and I both work too, but I think by planning quick meals it’s still working for us. I can make 3 meals for 2 days at a time in 15-20 minutes now. They aren’t the most exciting, but it works! :)

  1. says

    I’ve never been a good planner…And I love our weekends, too! So I wing it a lot during the week. I have time to set the crockpot before work and always make us a good meal, so that’s fine, it’s dinner that can sometimes lack if I don’t have enough ingredients on hand. I loved this post b/c you didn’t bash meal prepping but gave another option to people… Glad you have your weekends back! I think that’s super important (unless, as you said, you love it – I think of Lindsay from Lean Green Bean – she rocks at whipping it out!).
    Bonnie recently posted…#teamX2 review + foodie funMy Profile

  2. says

    AMEN AMEN to this!! Great tips and I hear you on everything. I always have things on hand for super quick breakfasts and then use nights when I don’t have as much going on to cook a nice dinner with leftover for a couple meals the next day. I do enjoy a good meal prep day on a lazy Sunday when I have nothing going on but how often to do those happen right!?
    Lauren recently posted…Long Runnin – My Tips and Tools of the TradeMy Profile

  3. says

    If I have the extra time, then I do plan out some meals, but not all. Usually it’s more about prepping some things like pressing and marinating tofu, baking off spaghetti squash, making homemade bread and homemade spaghetti sauce or veggie burgers to freeze. But it’s mostly just things that will make a week night meal faster to throw together. I don’t want my weekends to be stressful, so if it happens, it does, if not, no biggy. I am a believer in having go-to meal options that I know we can throw together quickly.

    • says

      Exactly – if it’s adding stress, you need to look for ways to change it. It took me way to long to figure this one out! I plan all my meals, that hasn’t changed, but I don’t have to make them all on Sunday. :)

  4. says

    I definitely agree that trying to prep a week’s worth of meals on the weekend is very time consuming and stressful at times. I’ve started meal planning and doing the grocery shopping on the weekends and perhaps knowing what I’m going to take for breakfast/lunches, but then prepping them just one or two nights in advance. That way I know I have everything I need on hand and I don’t have to spend time thinking about what I’m going to eat (used to be a huge time waster for me), but I don’t have to pack all of the actual cooking/prep into one day.
    Ashley F. recently posted…Vegan Cuts February Snack Box {Review}My Profile

  5. says

    Funny. We stopped weekly meal prep too so we could enjoy our weekend a little bit more! I prep a few days at a time and it works for me! Much happier this way. We also split up grocery shopping hahaha so it only takes each of us one trip to a certain store! Such a time saver!
    Amber recently posted…Where have I been?My Profile

  6. says

    So funny because I really just wrote out my first meal plan in years. I always have plenty of veggies on hand and pretty much just made it work. I am going to try a little more variety and working on removing some foods so I have laid out a plan, but I didn’t prep everything over the weekend. Instead I’m doing some here and there, which is working for now!
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted…Vegan Clean Eating Blueberry Upside Down CakeMy Profile

  7. Mosss says

    I’ve gotten meal prep down to 90 minutes, so I feel like it’s not sucking time away and it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of cooking. I work 14 hour days, so unless i want to blow all my money on buying as I go, this makes such a big difference in terms of saving and peace of mind.

    • says

      I still cook my meals at home, but I do it in 20 minute spurts a few times throughout the week, instead of that block of time. And I have a plan and groceries already there for those few minutes. If you found what works for you – stick with it!! :)

  8. Chatelaine says

    I do not enjoy weekly meal preps that take up my Sunday……. During the week my brain is always on, planning, checking, doing, working and Friday night to Monday morning I check out, and try to enjoy the most out of my weekends. If I had to meal prep on Sunday I’d have to start ‘working’ in my mind and that stresses me out. What you wrote above is exactly me. Now I plan meals and groceries during the week as needed and stress is definitely reduced.

  9. says

    I gave up meal prep when I tossed the whole outdated 6-meal-per-day bodybuilding routine. That’s very old school now, and less is definitely more in terms of eating fewer, more satiating meals and consequently, less prep. Now, I have a solid breakfast of protein pancakes or eggs, a big ass salad for lunch, then focus on preparing a nice dinner (not a fan of leftovers anyway).

    I’ve never been a fan of eating food out of a plastic container that I prepped 4 days ago, anyway. Not very appealing….
    caren recently posted…Comment on HIIT & Run Lower Body Workout For Butt-Less Runners by KerryMy Profile

    • says

      I find the 5-6 meals a day works well for me, but it does add a bit more prep. I’ve always been a leftovers person anyway, so maybe that’s why the make-ahead meals aren’t a problem for me? It’s just less overwhelming to prep a few days at a time. :) You have to find what works for you!

    • says

      I like the plan, just not the big chunk of prep work. But like I said, some people like it and that’s great too!! I just wanted to share that there are options and it can be done a few ways. :)

  10. says

    Hmmm, I am not sure whether I agree with you or not. I guess I am in the middle. I found total meal prepping was exhausting, like you said….leaving the weekend tired, but I guess then you can sleep with a peaceful mind knowing you do not have to do that. I usually make a big meal on Sunday that will give me leftovers for a few days that I can take to my night classes, and then cook again on Wednesday evening. I do not really prep anything else though.

    I have cereal most days, so that is easy for my breakfast, but I need to somewhat plan ahead with my schedule when I am going to meets as I need to keep my nutritional intake up for my training, but as a coach we are sometimes unable to get food for long stretches.

    That being said, I am glad someone addressed this, as I was terrified of how big the meal plans of some people were getting! And the amount of tupperwares filled with food was crazy! I would have none left haha!
    Tina Muir recently posted…Salmon, Spinach, and Broccoli RisottoMy Profile

    • says

      Since I work during the day, I have to bring prepped meals to the office (usually 3 small meals in my Fitmark bag). I just prep those a few days at a time, so I have them ready to grab in the morning. it’s just that I don’t want to prep everything on the weekends, that’s what seems like a time suck to me and was killing my love for cooking. :)

  11. says

    I’m kind of stuck on this because I gotta do meal prep with my schedule + food allergies, but I need to figure out a better way of doing it. Typically I did what you did, and I got the same results. Instead, I’ve been trying to spread out food prep over the weekend by making a meal or two a day, and one or two extra things on whichever day I have time to do so. This method has been helping with my stress levels. :) I can’t completely quit meal prep though, but maybe I can keep working on figuring out how to reduce the stress around it

    I just did a HUGE post about meal prep. The biggest piece of advice I can give anybody about meal prep is JUST KEEP IT SIMPLE. Stir fry and casseroles go a LONG way.
    Calee recently posted…Sweet Tunes Thursday: Oh, you pretty things! + 3.12 playlistMy Profile

    • says

      i think you’ve found a good balance – making a few meals at a time is SO much better. I plan my meals throughout the previous week, then just prep 2 days at a time. The difference in how I feel stress-wise is amazing. And YES – keep it simple. as much as possible!

  12. says

    I don’t meal prep and for a while I would just wing it at the grocery store. But then I’d be stressing out when dinnertime came around and I didn’t know what I was making. Now, I spend about 10 minutes writing down a menu for the week and a grocery list. It’s working so far.
    Xiomara Meeks recently posted…What if everybody ran? MizunoMy Profile

  13. says

    This is great, Heather! I think that there are times in your life when you need to just take stock of what’s important and how you’re prioritizing your time. I am AWFUL and meal planning and prepping. I’ll write out what I want to make for dinner one week, and then not do it again for a month. It’s really helpful (and money saving!) to have a plan when grocery shopping- because then you’ll only buy what you actually need.
    I had to pack my breakfast, lunch and snacks every day for 8 years when I was a teacher. There was no other option (well, cafeteria food…) so if I didn’t pack something, I couldn’t eat! I spent SO much time each night packing meals and it made me so frustrated and angry- I think that when I quit teaching I just totally wanted to go 180 degrees in the other direction. I associate meal prep/planning with all of those horrible emotions I had with teaching I guess.
    I would LOVE to find a healthy balance of being able to plan (mostly to save money!) and prep to a degree. Since I work from home though, it’s too easy to just walk into the kitchen and whip something up.
    Good for YOU for taking back your Sundays!!
    Lauren @ Me and the Mountains recently posted…Maximize Your Life [An Evening with Jillian Michaels]My Profile

  14. says

    I’ve never done weekly meal prep because I also think it would stress me out. One of my resolutions last year was to grocery shop every weekend for the upcoming week – I don’t know how I used to survive not doing this! It’s made life so much less stressful having everything on hand and not realizing we’re out of coffee as soon as we wake up.
    Stacy @ Stacy Eats recently posted…Our First HomeMy Profile

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