Why Meal Prepping May Be the New Sustainability Trend In 2024
By Beth Rush
Virtually every decision we make carries environmental consequences. With this awareness, more people are changing their habits to become more eco-friendly. Meal prepping, an emerging sustainability trend, is a great place to start.
Why Is Meal Prep Sustainable?
Many people have adopted meal prepping as a time-saving tool. However, it also comes with multiple benefits for your health, your wallet, and the planet.
Reduces Food Waste
We waste a staggering amount of food every day. Over one-third of all food produced goes to waste each year, amounting to 1.3 billion tons. As you begin meal prepping, one of the first things you’ll notice is the significant reduction in food waste. Meal prepping encourages mindful planning as you can carefully portion your ingredients, ensuring you only buy what you need.
One of the most enticing aspects of meal prep is its potential to save you money. When you plan your meals, you can strategically purchase ingredients in bulk, taking advantage of discounts and reducing packaging waste. When eating out the average meal costs about $14, but a home-cooked meal costs only $4. By avoiding last-minute, impulse purchases, you’re cutting down on your grocery bill. These small amounts can add up to substantial savings over time.
You Can Choose Sustainable Ingredients
As awareness of the environmental impact of what we eat grows, people are turning to sustainable ingredients. Meal prepping allows you to choose locally sourced, organic and ethically produced ingredients. You support eco-friendly practices and promote a healthier food system by opting for sustainable options.
Some of the most sustainable foods in the world include:
- Beans, peas, lentils and legumes
- Organic fruits and vegetables
Whether you work full-time, study, look after kids or are always on the go, life can get busy as we often have limited time to whip up a meal. Meal prepping allows you to reclaim some of your precious time by dedicating a few hours to cooking and organizing your meals for the week. Say goodbye to daily kitchen dilemmas and hello to stress-free evenings — and mornings — all while positively impacting the environment.
Minimizes Your Carbon Footprint
The journey of food from farm to table often involves significant carbon emissions. Meal prepping allows you to plan your meals efficiently, reducing the need for frequent trips to the grocery store and lowering transportation-related emissions. Being intentional about your food choices contributes to the fight against climate change.
A Chance to Get Creative In the Kitchen
Meal prepping isn’t just about practicality — it’s an opportunity to unleash your culinary creativity. Experiment with new recipes, flavors, and cuisines. By enjoying the process of preparing your meals you develop a deeper connection with the food you eat, fostering a sense of appreciation for the resources involved in its production.
Benefits Your Health
A sustainable lifestyle extends beyond the planet. Meal prepping can benefit your health, especially if you tend to overeat or make poor food choices. Meal prepping encourages you to create balanced, wholesome meals. With a carefully planned menu, you can ensure you get the nutrients your body needs, ultimately leading to better health and longevity.
Home-cooked food is often void of additives, preservatives, hormones, and chemicals and is lower in salt, sugar, unsaturated fats, and calories. These ingredients are in many convenience foods, which can leave you feeling tired and sluggish and exacerbate anxiety, depression, and stress.
Energy and Resource Efficient
Cooking multiple meals at once is a brilliant way to maximize the efficiency of your kitchen appliances. You can save energy and resources by using the oven, stove, air fryer or slow cooker for batch cooking. Batch cooking lowers your utility bills and contributes to more sustainable energy use, helping to mitigate the environmental impact of cooking.
Promotes Mindful Consumption
In a world dominated by excess, meal prepping promotes mindful consumption. When you plan your meals, you’re being intentional about what you purchase and eat and how much you prepare, contributing to a culture of conscious living. This shift towards mindful consumption is a powerful force that can drive positive change.
Additional Tips For Sustainable Meal Prepping
Go the extra mile by ensuring your meal prep process is sustainable with these tips:
- Use ingredients that are in season
- Experiment with plant-based meals
- Compost any food scraps like peels, eggshells, coffee grounds, and leaves
- Donate leftover food
- Stick to your shopping list
- Invest in reusable containers for storing meals
- Conduct a weekly inventory of your fridge and cupboards to ensure you use what you already have
- Buy frozen fruit and vegetables to save money and reduce waste
Meal Prep Ideas
Rotate meals each week to switch it up and prevent getting bored. Give these ideas a try:
- Grilled chicken and quinoa bowls
- Vegetarian stir fry
- Mason jar salads
- Roasted vegetable quiche cups
- Baked salmon with sweet potato
- Greek-inspired grain bowl
- Quinoa and black bean stuffed peppers
- Homemade soups
- Egg muffins
- Overnight oats
- Chia pudding
- Breakfast wraps
- Teriyaki chicken and broccoli
Make Sustainable Changes This New Year
Meal prepping can be more than a time-saving hack — it’s a lifestyle choice with far-reaching implications for sustainability. Use meal prepping as an opportunity to expand your palette, explore different cuisines, and save money and the planet at the same time.
About the Author: Beth Rush is the green wellness editor at Body+Mind. She has more than five years of experience writing and editing articles covering topics like sustainable transit and the importance of green spaces in urban planning. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag.
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