If you're the type to get excited about weekly meal prep, then you're a special breed of human; and we salute you. If you're like the majority of the population, though, you probably despise preparing lunch for the work week. But there are tons of very good reasons to be more proactive about make-ahead meals. For one, a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath discovered people who often consume meals prepared at home are less likely to gain weight and suffer from type 2 diabetes than those who eat out.
In the study, published in PLOS Medicine's special issue Preventing Diabetes, researchers analyzed 58,051 women (from 1986 to 2012) and 41,676 men (from 1986 to 2010) from two separate studies. Researchers followed up with the men and women frequently, asking them how often they consumed lunch or dinner meals prepared at home and collected self-reported information on participants' eating habits and the onset/occurrence of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found men and women who reported eating five to seven evening meals prepared at home during a week had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed two pre-prepared meals or fewer in a week. One reason for the trend: Those eating healthier homemade meals will see less weight gain and a low risk of developing type 2 diabetes; those who eat out have a higher inclination to eat fast food, which is high in calories but poor in nutrients, which can cause weight gain and a greater onset of type 2 diabetes.
So, if the takeaway is to make more meals at home, then the next logical step is making meal prep suck less. Here are four simple ways to make the process easier so you can eat healthy food—not have healthy food eat up all your free time and money.