You see them everywhere. Fitness Pros who have stacked up all their Tupper wear containers full of their pre-prepared meals. They line up their weeks’ worth of food and post it as some sort of trophy. But only athletes and bodybuilders have the time to do that don’t they? You’re surviving on make shift meals every day. But is it the best you could do?
Meal Prep doesn’t have to be like what you imagine it is. There is no need for 3 freezers to store your 30 Tupper wear boxes in. There is no need for the boring meals you see such as chicken and broccoli. You can enjoy your favourite meals and have them ready for you to just pick them up and go.
“I know how to eat healthily!”
You may know which are the healthy choices. Most people understand that sugar is bad for us, we should eat more vegetables and less processed foods. Yet actually doing this as you go along is very difficult.
You may walk into a nearby store since you didn’t make any lunch. You know you should have a meal full of vegetables and ideally unprocessed meats. If they sell vegetables and meat in a local shop, it will need cooking first. This is impossible when you’ve just left work on your lunch break to grab something to eat. So, the only other option is to get a premade, processed and fat filled meal.
Even if you know the healthy choices you should be making, you don’t often have the opportunity to make them. You could do your best and choose to buy a salad, yet this will still have unnecessary calories in and will usually cost you a bomb.
Instead if you had premade lunches, you could just pick one up on a morning, so even if you are running late you still have a healthy meal ready with you. This then means there is no reason to have to try and make a healthy choice. The healthy option is now the quickest, easiest and cheapest option since it was premade by you.
It takes too much time!
Most people usually cook every night of the week to make the evening meal. Food prep can be included in this time. Just make an extra portion and you have a pre-prepared meal for the next day. It is as easy as that!
If you want to make all your lunches for the week, make some time on the weekend in which you can do this. Meal prep can easily take under an hour once you know what you are doing. You can make it easy by making one meal in bulk and splitting that over five days or if you like a change, make five similar meals and use different sauces and flavouring on each. You can make a week worth of meals in the same amount of time as it usually takes you to make one.
For example, I usually make homemade burgers and vegetables or spaghetti bolognaise. These are easy because all they use is lean mince and vegetables (plus spaghetti for the bolognaise).
Or if you like to have something a little different each day, you could cook 5 chicken breasts, each in a different sauce or seasoning (e.g. garlic chicken, lemon chicken, spicy chicken etc.).
Spending that small amount of time can help improve your nutrition drastically. You don’t have to choose what you are going to eat so it takes the temptation of choosing unhealthy meals. It is also cheaper making meals yourself, rather than buying them from a store premade.
How to meal prep
First, we need to go shopping and have in mind what meals we are going to make. We want a lean source of protein, a selection vegetables and herbs and spices, plus anything else you need to make your meals (spaghetti, pasta, rice etc.).
Here you can choose all the foods you like. However, for vegetables, the greater the selection the less bored you will get of eating the same meals regularly. Most people usually have herbs and spices in their homes but if you need more get some. They provide lots of flavour and can allow you to make two of the same meals taste very different.
Once you have been shopping we need to start the prep right away. Too many people will get home with the good intensions of preparing their meals for the week yet will end up filling the fridge with what they bought and going off to do something else. Someone will then end up using some of your ingredients so you no longer have enough to prepare your meals. This means you end up back where you started, buying or making ad hoc meals, which means you end up wasting time and money.
The actual meal prep just involves cooking your food, seasoning it however you want and then splitting it into tubs ready for the week ahead. Most meals should keep for up to a week if kept stored in the fridge. I’d recommend prepping meals for the next 5 days, so doing your meal prep on a Sunday would be perfect.
Once you have done it is out of the way and is no longer a worry. Now you don’t have to make decisions about what you can eat the next day. There will be a meal ready to just pick up as you walk out of the door.
How else can I use Meal Prep?
Through this post I have mainly related meal prep to a lunch time. This is because I believe this is the meal that most people struggle with. If you don’t have time on a morning before work to make a healthy lunch box then that usually means you grab something quick during your lunch break. Having the meals ready will save you time and will mean even if you don’t have time on a morning you can still have a nutritious, healthy meal ready for you.
However, the idea of meal prepping can be used for anything.
The craze of overnight oats is just a way of meal prepping for your breakfast. They are made the night before and stored until you eat them in the morning. This means you can easily grab a healthy breakfast since it is already made. You could also make a smoothie the night before which you can pick up in the morning and drink it on your way to work. This gets rid of the time spent making and eating breakfast on a morning so is perfect for anyone with a busy day or if you like to have more of a lie in.
Since most people you see meal prepping are doing it just for themselves this may make you think “I can’t do that… I have a family”. Yet having a meal in the freezer can be a godsend when you have an unexpectedly busy day and there is nothing for tea. Make a big meal that can be made in a dish, such as a lasagne. Then freeze it, either cooked or uncooked. This is now available for an easy tea when you have no time. It’s that simple!
Meal prepping is an easy way to improve what you eat and make sure you are eating well consistently. It can save you time, money and the stress of having to make a meal when you have nothing in the fridge.
Anyone can meal prep get a huge benefit from it, not just the pros.