Meal Prep vs Ingredient Prep: Which Is The Better Option For You?

Meal Prep vs Ingredient Prep: Which Is The Better Option For You?

So you might be reading this title and thinking ‘what the hell is ingredient prepping? And how is it different from a traditional meal prep?’. Don’t worry, I’ll explain it all in this blog post!

Up until about 3 months ago I had never heard of this method of preparing either. Whenever I heard about any method of preparing food for the week it was always ‘meal prepping’ which I considered repetitive and bland (hint: I definitely have a favourite ;)). That is until I watched Sadia’s video on Pick Up Limes where she explains how she meal preps (she did call it meal prepping but for the sake of distinction I’ve decided to call it ingredient prepping). Her video changed the way in which I viewed preparing food in advance and I’m going to share that with you today.

In this post I will outline what each of these methods of planning are. I will list the pros and cons of each and give examples of how both of these methods can be used to save you time!

I also briefly mentioned meal prep vs ingredient prep in my last post about things to include in your Sunday routine so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already!

 

What is the difference?

Meal prep:

Meal prepping, in the most common definition of the term, is when you batch cook several meals at one time (usually once a week) and chill/freeze these ready meals in food containers ready to be microwaved or enjoyed cold throughout the week with very little additional work required. It’s simple and saves a lot of time.

Meal prep image

Ingredient prep:

Ingredient prepping, as I’ve decided to call it in this post, is when you prepare, cook, and cut ingredients once a week so that they are quick and easy to include in any meals you make throughout the week. Examples of ingredient prepping could include boiling a big batch of lentils or cutting up vegetables to reduce your time in the kitchen the rest of the week.

Ingredient preparation image

 

How are they useful?

Meal prepping is great for people who don’t have a lot of time in the week. With meal prepping you put all hard work into batch cooking over the weekend. This leaves you with easy, healthy and cheap ready-meals in the week. A weekly meal prep can help you to save money because you don’t need to buy lots of different ingredients for different meals. It is also easier to eat healthier meals when you prepare them in advance. After a long day at work you may not feel like cooking a healthy meal.

Ingredient prepping is great because it allows you to prepare ingredients in advance. This will speed up the cooking process throughout the week. Ingredient prepping is great if you enjoy cooking throughout the week but want to save time. It allows you to create different meals everyday but still have ingredients ready to use. This is especially great for things that take a long time to cook like beans, lentils and brown rice. It will also motivate you to use more vegetables and healthy ingredients because you don’t have to spend a lot of time cutting and preparing them. Instead you have them ready to be added to your meals!

Examples of ingredient prepping

Things you can ingredient prep include the following:

  • Boiling lentils, beans & chickpeas
  • Boiling rice & other grains
  • Washing & cutting vegetables
  • Cutting & frying onions (you only need to suffer the tears once!)
  • Making homemade spreads like hummus

Of course there are many more that you could do, these are just some tips to get started!

 

Pros & cons

Now that I’ve gone through what each of these methods are and how they may be useful for you, let’s examine the pros and cons of each.

Meal prep:

Pros:

  • Is a massive time-saver
  • Easy to prepare healthy meals
  • Saves money by having to buy fewer ingredients
  • Makes it easier to avoid eating out (saves money!)

Cons:

  • Meals aren’t as fresh as when they’re freshly cooked
  • Meals can easily get repetitive
  • Not good for people who enjoy cooking often

 

Ingredient prep:

Pros:

  • Saves time cooking in the week
  • Easier to include (and stick to) healthy ingredients
  • Good if you still want to cook in the week but don’t have a lot of time
  • Makes it easier to avoid eating out

Cons:

  • Still takes time every day to cook meals
  • Not good if you have very limited time in the week

 

Which is the better option for you?

At the end of the day only you can know which of these methods is best for you and your family. If you feel like you would rather not spend any time cooking throughout the week then meal prepping is probably better for you. However, if you enjoy cooking and would like freshly cooked and varied meals throughout the week then ingredient prepping will be a great way for you to save time but still get the quality of food that you would like.

If you’re not sure, you could try meal prepping for two weeks and then ingredient prepping for two weeks and see at the end which method you prefer. At the end of the day you don’t have to stick with either method but they can be useful during particularly busy moments in your life.

 

That’s it for this post! I hope you were inspired by at least one of these methods of preparing food in advance. Which is your preferred method? Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading! xxx

 

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