By having your meals prepared and partially ready to eat not only saves time, it eliminates stress and helps you keep on track when you want to either lose weight, or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whether you are a student, a full time Mom, or working full time it can be very difficult to cook healthy meals all the time. Sometimes being tired or very busy, leads us to eat something fast and ‘easy’, which usually involves popping an unhealthy pizza into the oven! Believe me when I say, it’s all fun and games until we no longer can get into our jeans!
Personally, I do my meal prep twice a week. My first meal prep is on a Sunday, where I prepare food for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My second meal prep takes place on a Wednesday, when I prepare for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Typically on a Sunday, I like to be a bit more spontaneous, when I like to rustle up fun and simple salads or easy to put together healthy meals.
First thing’s first:
5 essentials you need in your kitchen to meal prep like ‘a boss’:
A good range of plastic containers. If you are on the go and need to bring your lunch in your bag you are going to need containers to keep your food safe and secure, and avoid any unpleasant spills.
2. Kitchen scissors
They will help you cut excess fat from rashers, chicken or beef.
3. Bags, people!
Ziplockbags to be precise. They are always handy to prepare snacks for the week so you can just grab and go every day. They’re simply fantastic for storing nuts, fruit, rice cakes, dark chocolate, protein bars, dates, raw veggies, and everything else besides.
4. Get measuring!
Measuring cups and measuring spoons. They are indispensable to measure your portions so you can divide equally your foods, especially your grains. For example rice, quinoa, couscous, beans, etc. Generally speaking, females should be measuring around 1 cup of cooked grains, and the males should be measuring around 2 cups.
5. And Weighing!
Have a weighing scale. This is not 100% necessary, but some meal plan will require measuring your protein or your oats. It’s also handy for certain recipes.
Once you have all your equipment ready, the next step is to spend some time planning what your meal plan will be for the week.
Example of a weekly meal plan:
Mon-Friday: Overnight oats and berries
Saturday and Sunday: Poached eggs and a slice of whole meal bread
Monday-Wednesday: Chicken Stir-Fry with brown rice and 1 apple
Thursday- Saturday: Tuna on crispy crackers with ricotta cheese, cucumber, corn and spinach
Monday-Wednesday: Homemade beef burgers with a roasted sweet potato, broccoli and a side salad
Thursday to Saturday: Vegetarian chickpea salad
- Rice cakes
- Nut butters
- Carrot, celery and cucumber sticks with hummus
- Greek yogurt with nuts
- A protein bar
Once you have you meal plan you can now do a smart grocery shopping. However, wandering in to your local Supermarket without a shopping list, is nothing more than a recipe for disaster. I apologise for the bad pun! But joking aside, there is no point in going shopping and choosing random ingredients while hoping for the best! It is essential you have a shopping list, it empowers you to know exactly what you are buying and cooking! Make sure you experiment with flavors. Plain eating can get a little boring! Use spices and homemade marinades and dressings! Coat your chicken or fish with lemon and herbs! Jazz up your veggies with some extra virgin olive oil, paprika and sea salt for extra flavor! Chicken, beef burgers, salmon and any other animal protein freeze very well after being cooked.
I find the trick is to wrap them with 3 different layers: 1. tinfoil, 2. cling film and finally 3. newspaper. It might sound a little OTT but this really helps to keep the meat protected and preserves all the delicious flavors. You can keep cooked meats in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Grains also freeze very well in ziplock bags. You can cook rice, quinoa, couscous or millet. Then measure your portion, allow to cool fully, then place inside the ziplock bags, and freeze. They keep perfectly for up to 6 months. And one last tip, don’t forget to label all bags. When needed, you can then take your pre-prepared meal out from the freezer the night before, to allow it thaw fully. The next day, heat the meat up in an oven, or microwave, and serve with a fresh salad or with steamed vegetables that you have already prepared from your meal prep day. You can keep your cooked vegetables in the fridge for up to 3 days.
It is also key to always keep whole meal breads in your freezer, such as whole meal pittas, wraps, and bagels. You can take them out from frozen and pop them in the toaster to make yourself a delicious wrap, a chicken pitta or an avocado-egg bagel for breakfast, on a lazy weekend morning! I hope these tips have helped you all, and that you are all now ready to meal prep like ‘a boss’!
As the saying says: ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!’