Something that I’ve been doing for almost a year now is mass-cooking my meals for the week at the same time. What is mass-cooking? Basically, it’s making extra meals that you can package into tupperware or containers to store in the fridge or freezer and heat up throughout the week. When I’m mass-cooking my meals, I generally like to keep them as simple as possible while providing adequate nutrient value at the same time. Here are some examples of meals that I’ve mass-cooked so that you can see just exactly what I mean by “simple”
Tofu with stir-fried bell peppers, onion, & broccoli, on top of brown rice and kale.
Chicken breast (3oz) with brown rice, broccoli, & green beans
Tofu scramble with mixed veggies & quinoa
Salmon fillet (4oz) with brown rice & a simple spinach and tomato salad
Chicken & vegetable soup made in crock pot
Tilapia fillet with brown rice, kale, and broccoli
Salmon (3oz) with mashed potatoes and asparagus.
As you can see, these meals really aren’t fancy or complex at all. I mean it when I say that I keep it as simple as possible. But at the same time, I try to incorporate all of the nutrient groups together to make it a well-balanced meal. By cooking all of your meals at once and portioning the nutrients out adequately, you have your serving size of protein, grains, and veggies.
Now, why do I do this?
For many reasons, really.
First of all, it helps you control your diet and prevents over-eating when you’re hungry. If you think about it, a lot of the times when you’re feeling really really hungry, you’ll tend to just reach for whatever is in site or easy to prepare. Most of the time, these convenience items are junk foods or highly-processed foods. By preparing all of your meals in advance, you can easily heat one up to eat, rather than choose the convenience foods. Also, when you’re feeling extremely hungry, you will tend to “binge-eat”, or eat more than your body needs. When you have a prepared meal like this, you can enjoy it slowly, and you will realize that it will actually fill you up, and you do not need all of the excess food!
Secondly, like I said, everything is already portioned out for you! This encourages you to meet your daily intake in all your nutrient groups (minus dairy, which I get from almond milk, and fruits, which I always, ALWAYS make sure to eat everyday after each meal). If you were to separately cook your meals every time you got hungry, chances are, you wouldn’t even think about receiving your proper serving of grains or vegetables. But here, since you already have a nice portion of everything, it really balances out your diet. And going off of the portion control – by preparing your meals like this, you really prevent yourself from over-consumption of nutrients as well. Did you know that for someone my age and size, a serving portion of protein is actually 3 to 4 oz? As you can see from the pictures, that is a lot smaller than what you’re probably used to! And, being an Asian who naturally loves rice, I will admit to having eaten more rice than I should have on occasions. But when you properly portion everything out (3 oz of meat, half a cup of rice), you prevent yourself from eating too much of what you don’t need.
Third, it saves time and energy. You may think that by cooking 6x as much as you need, that you would be spending hours more in the kitchen…but the reality is actually the exact opposite! Having done this for awhile, trust me when I say that it really doesn’t take that much longer! I probably spend a maximum of 2 hours a week preparing my meals, including the preparation and cleaning time (in contrast with the approximate hour it would take each day to cook and clean). If you were to cook separate meals every time you got hungry, I can almost guarantee that it would take you a much longer time. In addition, doing this really does save you energy! Rather than having to turn on the stove or oven every day to cook, you can conserve energy by doing it all at once! It really does make a big difference.
Fourth, it saves you money and improves your health because it prevents you from eating out as much. I only allow myself to eat out once a week, which is usually on Sundays, after church. And when you think about it, a lot of the times when you’re feeling really hungry, you would probably rather go out and get some fast food, instead of cook your own food at home. And I don’t think I even need to go into detail about how bad fast food is and how much damage it does to your body… but regardless, it definitely does a lot more “bad” than it does “good” to your health. However, if you already have your meals prepared, you will find that you do not have nearly as big of an urge to eat out and instead, you can have your own balanced and healthy meal in your home instead 🙂
Anyways, I’m just going to end it here because this post is getting to be really, really long and I don’t want to bore my readers to death. But seriously, you should give this method a shot! You may be surprised 🙂