Ever wondered how best to keep your healthy eating goals on track? Do you find yourself mid-week lacking inspiration for your meals, ending up craving something you invariably regret afterwards. A little planning and organisation might help and meal prep is a great tool to keep you on track and satisfied.
Meal prep is all over Instagram. Expertly cut vegetables, matching containers and harmonised colour schemes, the picture-perfect meal preps displayed around social media can be quite intimidating and sometimes seem even too pretty to eat.
Meal prep is in fact a fantastic opportunity to keep a closer eye on your food budget. Rushing around, it is easy to grab breakfast, lunch or a snack on-the-go but it can get expensive too. Bulk preparing meals in advance, will also save you time and effort. Once all the cutting, chopping, cooking is done, there is less day-to-day tidying up to do in the kitchen.
Having a weekly meal prep routine does not need to be a burden. Nothing prevents you from having a different meal everyday but, in the interest of saving time, it is good to have a certain amount of repetition during the week so you get the most of your batch cooking preparation. Here are a few tips to keep things doable and achievable.
1 – Define your meal prep goals
Decide on what matters most. Keep things simple and achievable. If you have never done meal prep before, trying to organise all your meals at once will be extremely challenging.
– What do you want to achieve? Are you trying to eat healthier food?
– What are your needs? Is it breakfast, lunch, snacking and/or dinner you are struggling with? Do you have some time on the day to cook or do you require complete ready meals?
– Do you have any nutritional requirements? Trying to cut down on sugar? Do you need more protein intake to fit with your exercise routine?
2 – Plan time and portions
– Decide when you can allocate time to bulk prepare your meals. Weekends might work better as you will need to set aside 2-4 hours.
– Decide how many people are you meal prepping for.
3 – Keep a file of recipes
– Select your favourite dishes and stay on the look out for new inspiration. Bookmark recipes on the internet, keep a binder of the ones you find in magazines, supermarket recipe cards or photocopies from cookbooks.
4 – Plan your week ahead
– Keep a calendar of the daily meals included in your meal prep. Adjust your calendar to fit around any commitments you have during the week.
– Write a shopping list. Cross check which ingredients you already have.
– Keep in mind that some foods will keep longer than others and plan your meals accordingly.
5 – Do a prep list
– What needs chopping, cooking, blending etc
– Can you combine your ingredient prep list between recipes to save time?
6 – Plan your containers
– Make sure you have enough to stock up food. Choose shapes that are easily stackable in the fridge.
– If you want hot food at work, are your containers suitable for the microwave? Or do you prefer taking in an insulated pot?
Once you have practiced meal prep a few times, it will become second nature. It is a trial and error process so don’t be discouraged if it is not perfect at first. Soon you’ll know which recipes work best and your shopping list and prep list will be done in no time.
Following the tips above, I have devised a meal prep for weekday breakfasts and lunches. This is what I struggle the most with. Most mornings I operate in a daze and often end up with two slices of toast and jam washed down by coffee. A far cry from a nutritious start of the day. If I have any leftovers from the night before, then lunch is an easy choice. However, if I have nothing prepared ahead, I end up snacking or having chaotic meals.
I have selected a few seasonal dishes from my recipe section, paying attention that some of them such as the granola, muffin or hummus can be shared across this weekly meal prep. I am also planning to have some food leftover, so that we can have the bean casserole in the evening. Any extra muffins will keep in the freezer.
Here are the links to the different recipes (I have simplified toppings on some of these to suit the meal prep process)
MEAL PREP LIST
Think ahead about what you need to make first and how much active time is required. Here I need the oven for the muffins and the granola, so I make the muffins first as the granola needs to be in the oven for longer.
[ ] Prepare porridge
[ ] Make muffins
[ ] Make granola
[ ] Cut vegetables
[ ] Make bean casserole
[ ] Make dips
[ ] Cut fruits
[ ] Make smoothie to freeze
[ ] Make yogurt pot
Once you have prepared the food you will need to store it. Deciding which size containers you need can be tricky so plan ahead. Addis sent me a selection of their Seal Tight range, which I find really practical as they are hard-wearing, sturdy and stack easily in the fridge. A total lifesaver when it comes to both meal planning and food storage, they are also BPA-free and suitable for fridge, freezer, microwave and dishwasher.
From 200ml to 5 litre, Addis Seal Tight comes in a variety of shapes, forms and sizes. This is really important as it helps maximise space and functionality. I have a selection of round, square and rectangular containers as well as beakers. Being “seal tighted” ensures that food keep fresher for longer which is also paramount when you prepare food in advance. For individual smoothies I use 200ml containers which easily stack in a freezer drawer.
Addis Seal Tight reuseable plasticware collection is made in the UK to minimalise the carbon footprint. The containers are made from a virgin master batch of new plastic and can be recycled at the end of their lifecycle at your nearest waste recycling centre to become post-consumer waste that can be remade into another hard plastic item. Hard-wearing to stand the test of time, they come with a 10 year guarantee.
Disclaimer: this post is sponsored by Addis. All thoughts and opinions are my own.