Meal prepping is the simple task of preparing some or all of your meals in advance. This can take many forms and it is completely individual to you and your lifestyle. You may find it helpful to make overnight oats in advance for your breakfast, or you could go as far as preparing all of your lunches and dinners for the week to portion and store in the fridge or freezer. However you decide to use meal prepping to your advantage, it goes without saying that it will save you time, money and help you stick to a healthier diet. In this blog, I'm going to tell you everything you need to know about meal prepping - from the benefits to some useful tips and tricks.
Why meal prep?
People use this tool for many different reasons. For some it's simply about time saving. We all have very busy lives, and an hour spent cooking lunch and/or dinner everyday isn't possible for most of us even if we wanted to, however many of us can find a bit of time over the weekend to batch cook and prepare meals for the week ahead. Evenings are a busy time for most of us and the ease of having dinner ready to go allows you to spend your valuable free time doing other things! Not only does it save you time, but preparing in advance also helps to ensure you eat healthier foods more often with the proper portions, instead of reaching for quick, processed and prepackaged snacks or meals that are high in sugar and are less satisfying. Meal prepping ensures that you always have a delicious, healthy, home cooked meal ready and waiting to stop you reaching for the takeaway menu when you just can't be bothered to cook. This also applies to work lunches - if you have a lovely, nutritious meal for lunch, you are far less likely to grab fast food or make poor food choices when buying lunch. It might even help you to stay away from the biscuit tin!
If those reasons aren't enough, a huge bonus to meal prepping is the money you save. Batch cooking and portioning meals yourself takes the cost down massively. This is especially noticeable if you buy your lunch each day!
So now you're convinced and want to have a go, but where do you start? For beginner cooks especially, it can seem daunting to attempt to make a weeks worth of meals in one go, but it doesn't have to be! Simply pick one or two recipes that you like and double or triple the ingredients to make a batch big enough to make however many portions you need. This is even easier if you aren't fussy about eating the same meal daily as you only have to make one recipe. Choose a day when you have some free time to cook and just get going! After a few weeks it will become habit and a weekly routine for you, making it easy to stick to.
If you are really orgainsed, it can be super helpful to make a meal plan way ahead so that you can make a shopping list from the recipes that you are going to cook. This will again save you money on the weekly food shop.
My tips for successful meal prep:
Use recipes that keep well in the fridge or are freezable so you can make several days in advance.
Find some good containers that you can microwave and won't lose their shape.
Pick recipes with a lean protein source (chicken breast, fish, turkey, tofu), some complex carbs (wholegrains, legumes), some good fats (cheese, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocado) and as many veggies as you can!
Choose recipes you'll actually eat. This seems obvious but you might pick recipes based on the health benefits, not considering that you won't actually want to eat it when it comes to it. Food should be enjoyed!
Make enough food. If you don't prepare enough you'll end up reaching for something else anyway, which defeats the object of prepping in the first place.
There are so many recipes on the internet, as well as some recipe books specifically written for meal prepping, but you don't have to find something new to make it into a prep. The easiest way to start is to use recipes that you already cook and love, and just multiply the ingredients! If you are stuck for inspiration, here are a few ideas:
I hope I've given you enough information and inspiration to get cooking - it's more satisfying that you think!