Making Meal Prep Work for You... Really

August 2, 2017

 

I admit, I have struggled with meal prepping in the past and I still do. Yes, I’m a nutritionist, an advocate of healthy eating and I realise logically that meal prepping makes all kinds of sense. At the same time, I am human and still do struggle with consistency, motivation and inspiration.  

 

Last week however, was a personal meal prepping triumph and I ended up with a complete menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks… for the entire week! And it didn’t take all of my weekend to do either!

I realised that there are a few meal prep hacks when it comes to maintaining consistency. Posting this piece is a great reminder to myself and hopefully will help you too.

Planning is the key to a happy and healthy belly

It sounds obvious because meal prepping is essentially meal planning and preparation. I realise now though that my prepping plans lacked detail and clarity and hence I struggled. Now I have learned to:

  • Plan my meals around my social calendar

This is a key one to avoid, time, money and food wastage; my top three pet peeves. If I know I’ll be out two evenings out of the week, I will make smaller quantities of food, so that I can actually get through everything that I have prepared. I’ll also make my meals quite simple and inexpensive so that my budget isn’t too dented by both in restaurants and spending on my weekly supermarket shop. A vegetable curry, or rice noodle veggie stir fry using frozen veg is great on these occasions.

  • Plan various meals to complement each other: I’ll avoid having a lentil soup for lunch and then Mexican beans for dinner. As much as I love both meals, the bean and legume overload would be too much for me to handle in a 24 hour period.

  • Plan my meals so that one ingredient can be used in multiple dishes – i.e. spinach can be used in smoothies, salads and curries

  • Plan when I will go shopping, where I’ll go and schedule it into my diary as well as when I will do the actually prepping and cooking.

  • Plan how much I want to spend for the week based on my weekly budget planning

  • Plan healthy snacks based on what I would normally revert to when I need a comfort food fix

  • Plan in when I won’t eat a pre-prepped meal. Friday nights and a bowl of freshly made spelt pasta with a homemade tomato sauce is a little piece of heaven for me and having a meal that is different from what you have already been eating in the week can help to make the psychological shift into the weekend.

 

Get Excited

Please do yourself a favour and prep food that excites you and that you will actually eat! Healthy meal prepping is all well and good but if you end up throwing half of it away in favour of eating out or getting a take away that seems much more appealing, you’ll end up feeling like you failed. Set yourself up for success by making interesting food that you can’t wait to get home to in the evening.

 

Variety is the Spice of Food

If you know that you simply cannot eat the same thing for the whole week, make two different dishes. To make this more manageable so that your whole weekend isn’t spent in the kitchen, chose a combination of simple, quick dishes alongside a more complex, may be longer dish. Apps like Yummly will help inspire you.

 

Break if Down

If you don’t like the thought of cooking in one big batch, prep your ingredients instead. Chop all your veggies and store them in the fridge so you can grab them easily once you are ready to cook.

 

Keep it Simple

As you are likely to be on the go in the morning it’s often easier to have a breakfast that is quick, easy, nutritious and doesn’t take a lot of thought. My favourites are fruit, smoothies, overnight oats and smoothie bowls, boiled eggs are also great. With the exception of the eggs, all take less than 5 minutes to prepare and can even be prepared the night before.

 

Be Honest

If you really don’t have time to prep one week, because, as we know life can and often does happen, give yourself a break and don’t stress it. Instead do a mini-prep by picking up healthy pre-prepared food in the supermarket. On these occasions I love New Covent Garden Soups, Bol Veg Pots and Salad Bowls for lunch or dinner, fruit for breakfast, nuts and popcorn for snacks. You can also pick up hearty salads or soups for lunch from places like Vital Ingredient, Pret a Manger or Crussh as well as many independent cafes. The key here is to check the labels to ensure that ingredients simple and recognisable

Sharing is caring. What meal prep hacks do you have?

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