Meal Prep 101
Meal prep is the best way to create healthy eating habits and keep our budget in check, but who has the time to chop & cook all day? And who wants to spend their free time in a kitchen? Not me.
Meal Prepping is preparing some, or all of your meals and snacks ahead of time. It’s like having those pre-made frozen TV dinners, except that you prepare them yourself, with tastier, healthier and unprocessed ingredients.
Planning, preparing and portioning your meals ahead of time is one of most effective ways to keep your food and budget in check because you won’t need to reach for quick and processed options as you will have healthy options ready to eat.
If you’re an aspiring meal planner but don’t know where to start and you are so over thinking ‘what’s for lunch or dinner’ I’m about to make life so much easier for you.
Start slow. Decide what to make and stick to ideas that don’t require too many ingredients or cooking techniques. Avoid all recipes that take 25 steps or 6 ingredients you’ve never heard of. You don’t need to prep every single meal you’re going to eat all week. Just choose the meals you struggle with the most. For example, if you don’t have a problem making dinner but always seem to have issues with your snacks or breakfast then spend your time prepping options that will make those times easier for you. Once you have your recipes selected, save them to your phone or go old school with recipe cards. Just keep them somewhere safe so you can find them again to use later.
Ditch the rules. lunches and dinners don’t have to be boring. All that matters is that the meals you eat offer a wide range of nutrients and cover the important bases: lean protein, complex carbs, healthy fats. As a guide to create a balanced meal aim to fill 50% your plate or container with colourful non-starchy veggies, 25% of your with a lean protein and the final 25% with whole grains or a Low GI carbohydrate.
Go shopping. Do a quick inventory of what you already have in the pantry and make a list of what you need. This will also help you choose recipes that use what you have on hand. Purchase your staples in bulk, this will not only reduce the amount of packaging you'll use, but it will reduce the overall cost as you will use those items in future meals. Once you are stocked up on staples you will only need to make a trip to the shops once a week to purchase fresh produce.
Get cooking. Be sure to multi-task to save time and always clean as you go. For example, while your protein is cooking you can clear dishes and wipe down benches, so you won’t have to spend time doing it after. You’ll also have an easier time getting things clean if the mess is still fresh. Additionally, I always start cooking with whatever takes the longest and have a few things going at once.
Account for snacks. Instead of undoing all your healthy prep efforts by reaching for unhealthy options in between meals, it’s important to have snacks on hand to avoid craving unhealthy foods and ensure you’re getting your fill of nutrients. Great snack ideas include fresh fruit, a handful of mixed nuts, low fat Greek yoghurt or even a small tin of on tuna on crackers.
Stock up on storage containers. You will need an assortment of storage containers, including glass and plastic containers with air tight lids to store your meal preps. Make sure the containers you purchase are microwave safe and BPA free to allow for quick reheating. The maximum that I recommend preparing lunches without freezing is between 3-4 days. This week I’ll be releasing additional information on how to store your food safely so keep your eye out for that.
Meal prepping will not only save you time but also money that you would have otherwise spent eating out on unhealthier options. Once meal prep becomes part of your weekly routine, your week will go much smoother, you’ll see!