Instagram has become an increasingly valuable platform for the food industry and the people that identify themselves as dietitians, nutritionists, wellness guru’s and the early adopters of the #phoneseatfirst crowd, ‘foodies.’ While trends come and go, it has become easier than ever to track the latest, greatest, and strangest food trends doing the rounds through a simple hashtag search. Even without searching you’re likely to see several posts along your scroll that reference a meal out, a recipe, a new diet (keto anyone?) and increasingly - meal prep posts. Meal prep might not be a new idea, but in the Instagram age, it has seen a massive boost in popularity.
The Rise of Social Meal Prep
The meal prep trend has reached an entirely new demographic thanks to Instagram’s influencer base with the hashtag #mealprepping being used by fans over half a million times . That’s more uses of a hashtag than that other big food trend, #detoxing. Meal prepping’s dynamic boost in popularity is in part due to the photo opportunities available. From the massed collection of fresh ingredients to the symmetrically stacked prepared meals that will last for a week or a month, there are plenty of chances to take a pic that will stop a scroll in its tracks. People love food, and just as it brings people together around a table, meal prepping has built a virtual table within the Instagram community where people share stories, recipes, tips, and encouragement for those entering their first #mealprepsunday.
Meal Prep Sunday
As well as the incredibly high use of the hashtag #mealprep, Instagram gets a massive boost of meal prep posts on a Sunday. That’s because this is the day when many meal preppers do their bulk cooking, and the hashtag #mealprepsunday denotes their part in this current cultural phenomenon. What was once a chore is now an activity that millions of us happily participate in. There are websites and even a subreddit dedicated to meal prep Sunday, but nothing can beat the visual gratification of seeing and sharing our perfectly portioned meals.
Prepping for Meal Prep
Meal prep accounts have inspired many but some haven’t gotten past just enjoying other people’s images. Getting a beautiful photo of your hard earned meal prep containers neatly in a row is the least of the benefit of this practice. There are 3 major and photo free reasons to add meal prepping to your routine:
Stretching your food budget.
When you plan in advance you can buy in bulk but you’re also creating meals that will prevent you from eating out, or spending money on delivery services bringing food in.
Meal prep is a complementary strategy to most any fitness regimen.
When starting a new fitness routine our diet can often suffer as our increased output and new time constraints lead to a decrease in awareness and care of our nutrition choices. Having something as simple as good quality containers or meal prep boxes ready to use, and you could be filling your fridge and freezer with all of the meals you’ll need for lunch or dinner for the next week. This saves you time during the week and will also help you from snacking on unhealthy treats during the day. When you have a healthy meal all ready to go, you’re going to be less tempted to reach for the unhealthy options.
Sticking to your diet.
For some us, we have self-imposed rules related to what we eat. If you’re vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or keto it can be hard to find the foods that align with your diet choices. The best measure against skipping a meal or eating a substandard version of your chosen diet is to meal prep so you have what you want to eat available, when you want to eat it. Have a prescribed diet? The D.A.S.H. diet , diets created to decrease inflammation, diets for celiac disease, anti-allergy diets, and infertility diet’s are far more likely to be followed when food is prepared and planned for at home. Restaurants try their best, but they’re cooking for mass appeal not your specific health needs.
Meal prepping has become an internet phenomenon, driven in no small part by the popularity of the hashtag on Instagram. While restaurants and hotels are spending millions in marketing to bring you to their tables Instagram is helping to make this at-home cooking trend a welcome and much needed alternative to constantly eating out. It’s a lifestyle change that can have long-term benefits to your health levels and your bank balance. You might even get a few extra Instagram followers too!