Research: Prepping Meals May Lead to a Slimmer Waistline


How much time you spend a week preparing meals can influence your health and your wallet.

A Family Preparing a Meal

A Family Preparing a Meal

Husband and Wife Preparing a Meal

Preparing a Meal

[pullquote]Failing to plan is planning to fail. – Allen Lakein[/pullquote]I recently started prepping my meals ahead of time.  I usually prepare my meals for the week on Saturdays and Sundays.  I make 1-2 recipes each day and divide them evenly by portion size into to storage containers.  I used to hate cooking, but recently that has changed.  I have begun to enjoy making a new masterpiece.  Cooking is as much a work of art as medicine or painting and so is planning your meals ahead of time.  This concept reminds me of a quote by Allen Lakein: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”  Recently, I came across an article that drives home the point.


The research I found was an article from 2014 on the time spent on home food preparation as an indicator of the quality of the food eaten and the health of those eating it.  The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine[1].  The research was a cross-sectional analysis of a survey of 1319 adults from 2008-2009.  The investigators stratified the test subjects by those that spend less than 1 hour, 1-2 hours, and over 2 hours preparing their food per day.  The results revealed that those that spent the most time preparing their meals were associated with a higher quality diet and those that spent less time cooking spent more money on fast food.

The bottom line: Healthier foods take more time to make.  Compare the time to make a salad to that of microwaving a pizza, and the study results are obviously correct.  I would say this is an excellent study, but the results are subject to some bias.  You do not need to prep your meals every day of the week.  Spending just a couple of hours once or twice a week when you have time, you can prepare and portion all of your meals for the week.  The one thing that food prepping has taught me is that you can prep your meals on the weekends and portion them out for the whole week as long as you plan and prep ahead.  I highly encourage you to consider meal prepping as a means to prepare and plan ahead.  This method will allow you to better optimize your time and money.  For more on meal prepping: Meal prepping.         

[1]Monsivais, Aggarwal, and Drewnowski, “Time Spent on Home Food Preparation and Indicators of Healthy Eating.”
Monsivais, Pablo, Anju Aggarwal, and Adam Drewnowski. “Time Spent on Home Food Preparation and Indicators of Healthy Eating.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Elsevier BV, December 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.07.033
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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