As a self-proclaimed trend hater, I had my doubts about meal prepping. One look at Pinterest and you’ll see an influx of groomed mommy bloggers assembling organic heirloom veggies in their super-organized kitchens. Without knowing more, I thought that meal prepping was inherently time-consuming and expensive, something only for fancy people who buy everything from Whole Foods and don’t have day jobs. Spoiler alert: I was wrong!
At the behest of my favorite aunt, who was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, I am in the early process of being evaluated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It turns out my inability to support myself and keep my house clean may be more than being “artistic.” From my research (read: nightly Googling), I learn that adult ADHD diagnoses are common among women and those who were assigned at birth to females who, according to the CDC less likely to be properly diagnosed. While ADHD is often stereotyped and written off (kids are often labeled “brawlers” or “nervous”), research published in the Journal of Attention Disorders finds this to be the case ADHD can occur in adults about things like struggling to keep a house clean, feeling overwhelmed by the grocery store, and not using groceries before they go bad.
To my surprise, my research up ADHD in adults and ADHD Lifehacks led me to meal prep. It turns out that topping up your weekly living expenses can help you stay cool, calm, and actually nourished during the week. It doesn’t have to be an all-day, costly affair for the gifted, either.
How to start meal prep
BethMoncel, a budget meal prep blogger and author of “Budget Bytes: 100+ Easy, Delicious Recipes That Can Cut Your Grocery Bill In Half told me that preparing food for the week doesn’t have to be stimulating or fancy. You don’t have to create completely new dishes for every meal, you can simply prepare them in large quantities.
“Meal prep is literally just eating leftovers!” said Moncel. “You break up the leftovers into individual portions before you put them in the fridge for easy portability later.”
Though you might see wellness influencers making every single meal plant-based for an entire week, Moncel explains that meal prep is about making your life easier, not about making you feel bad. Start by preparing a small thing or two at a speed and quantity that works for you.
“Meal prep isn’t all or nothing,” said Moncel. “You don’t have to prepare three meals a day for seven days. It is enough to prepare a few lunches for the week long way to reduce your grocery bill.”
Moncel suggests starting slow and building a more robust routine. Try making extra chicken breasts or a large curry that can be eaten throughout the week. Once you get comfortable with it, Moncel suggests making a simple breakfast Overnight Oats.
How to prepare meals on a budget
If meal prep conjures up images of fancy, fresh produce and expensive glass containers from trendy zero-waste stores, then I get it. Although I was skeptical myself Taylor Stinson, author of the Meal Prep Blog the girl on bloor, explains that finding a meal prep routine that works for you can actually help you save money on groceries and groceries.
“When you open your refrigerator to ready-made meals or ingredients that can be cooked in 15 to 20 minutes, you no longer have to reach out or carry extra groceries because nothing looks appealing,” Stinson said.
Meal Prep helps you get the most out of your groceries. Knowing exactly what you’re preparing and how much of it you need can help you be more efficient at the grocery store.
Liz Lewis, an ADHD coach, founder of Healthy ADHD and author of one ADHD Meal Planning Ebook, also pointed out that easy-to-cook, versatile foods that last a while (like frozen veggies and microwaveable bulk rice) can help you save money. She suggests preparing large batches of protein like chicken in a slow cooker, then shredding or chopping it and storing it in the fridge. “That way, everyone in the house can use it however they want,” says Lewis.
Finally, Moncel, Stinson, and Lewis all agree that you don’t need to shell out special food storage containers, but more on that later.
“Really simple containers are best because they’re the most versatile,” says Moncel. “I’ve bought some fancier containers in the past, but they’re less versatile, harder to wash, and have more moving parts that can break.”
Meal prep for adults with ADHD
According to Jacqueline Sinfield, an ADHD coach and author of “Untapped Brilliance: How to Reach Your Full Potential as an Adult with Attention Deficit Disorder“Meal prep can help turn cooking into a lower-impact activity that you can do in your free time. Rather than waiting until you’re hungry and then struggling to do something, “do it at a time that’s convenient for you and there’s no pressure to get it done quickly,” Sinfield said.
According to Sinfield, people with ADHD can easily become engrossed in a particular activity or task and have trouble breaking away from it. For example, when you’re stuck in the middle of work emails or running errands, it can be stressful to stop your work, choose something to eat, pull out all the ingredients, prepare them, and then cook. Waiting until the last minute can also lead to negative self-talk, feelings of shame, and being overwhelming.
However, if you can find a day or night of the week when you have some free time, you can put on some music or a show that you enjoy and focus on getting your food ready. Without the pressure of being hungry or in the middle of a bunch of other half-finished chores, meal prep can be a slower paced activity.
“It gets one task done with a five-meal benefit, as opposed to five tasks for five meals,” Sinfield said.
Of course, Sinfield said, knowing that meal prepping can get you through the week is different than feeling personally motivated to do it.
“A lot of people think, ‘I should do that,’ but that’s not a very compelling reason!” Sinfield said. “When you have ADHD, motivation is key. Identify exactly why do you want to do that. Then it will be easier to take the necessary steps.”
If you’re looking to get into meal prep to save money and/or make eating easier during the week, the experts have shared their favorite food storage containers with meal prep newbies.
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