Let me run you through the art of Meal Prepping.
The biggest hurdle I had and I know all my friends, family, work colleagues have with eating well is time. So let’s start with a quote you would have all heard before
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
Whether we are working, parents or students, the underlying problem is the same. We are busy. We don’t have time to cook from scratch each meal.
“I don’t have time to eat healthy.”
“I’m always in a rush.”
This makes easier to grab something ‘convenient’ but not necessarily wholesome.
Good meal prepping however will you save you time in the kitchen as well as allowing you to have better meal choices available. Win. Win!
And if that’s not enough to convince you think of the added bonus of not having to think about what to eat everyday. Trust me with the decision fatigue we have in our lives, food should not be one of them. I have found this has even given me more time in the mornings I even have time to sit and actually enjoy my cup of tea! If you need a little help to get started click here for your copy of my Meal Prep Friendly Eating Plan, it even comes with recipes and a shopping list!
So What is Meal Prepping?
The thought of meal prepping is not only foreign but a little daunting to many. So let’s start with what is meal prepping? Meal prepping is going to look different to all of us. Like with everything at The Nourishing Way, this is going to be personal to you. To make it successful it needs to be a routine that works for you. It can be as simple as having vegetables chopped ready for dinner that evening to making a weeks worth of meals and all variations in between.
Start simple. Don’t go for the weeks worth of meals if you haven’t meal prepped or meal planned before. Start by analysing your day. Where do you struggling to eat well?
Are you always rushing out the door in the morning grabbing a slice of banana bread with your morning coffee? Prep breakfast.
Do you get to lunch and have to head down to the corner shop? Make your lunches in advance and take them with you.
Or is it a mad rush in the evenings and you find yourself grabbing a packet of something out of the cupboard? Have food chopped and ready to put in a pan.
We eat approximately 35 times a week if you include snacks. If you can make one meal a day a healthier, easier choice you have influenced 20% of your meals that week. That is huge. That is how change happens. That is how you begin to feel better. You don’t need to overhaul everything at once.
Simplest way to start meal prepping is just making more of one meal and using at another time. This could be dinner that you take for lunch the next day. It could be breakfast you eat the next morning. This would depend where you find the most time in you day.
Containers are also super important. We don’t want to make all this yummy food and have no way of taking it with us. I prefer glass containers. Pyrex. They are a little heavier to carry but I know that none of those yucky plastic chemicals are going to be leaking into my foods. If you do use plastic please make sure they are BPA free. Never use the takeaway style.
Where possible don’t heat your food in plastic, it is the heat that releases the chemicals. There are definitely going to be times where this isn’t possible, please don’t stress about this. Remember it’s what we do 90% of the time.
I work as an Area Manager. I’m not in the same place for the whole day. If this sounds like you I also recommend a good cooler bag and some ice bricks. I use two ice bricks in mine and sitting in a hot car still keeps my food nice and cold until lunchtime.
When I first started arriving with my lunch packed I definitely got a few weird looks and some comments. It’s because I was doing something different. It’s not because people are judging. I actually have so many people remark and say how they wish they could do that. And by implementing the below you can be the person who goes from wishing you could do this to actually doing it! Now everyone expects me to turn up with my lunch packed…lol!
Now the back bone of meal prepping is meal planning. Before you can even think about what to cook you need to know what you are going to eat. If you haven’t meal planned before start by getting used to this. Again don’t go for all in. Start by planning a few days at a time. Having a plan allows you know what to buy when you go shopping and what you will need to prep.
Write down what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and any snacks for the next 3-4 days. From this break it down to the ingredients you need for those meals and how much you will need. Stick to recipes you are used to and ones that can be made or partially made in advance. If you grabbed it earlier my Meal Prep Friendly Eating Plan will help with this.
Let the Meal Prepping Begin.
There are a few ways you can meal prep. And remember you must do what works for you so have a play around with a few different options. I’ll run through a few ways to approach meal prepping and hopefully it will give you a base to begin with.
If you follow me on the socials you will know I love nutritious, tasty, wholesome food so the thought of making a weeks worth of steamed chicken, broccoli and rice is so unappealing. I am however happy to eat pretty much the same thing for lunch for a week. It just has to be interesting. I will make up a big salad, roast or BBQ a heap of vegetables, add a yummy dressing, some nuts or seeds and some form of protein. This might be meat patties, a curry, roast lamb, poached chicken (the flavours from poaching chicken are amazing!!), salmon, fish – really anything, it totally depends what I feel like. I love the flavour a good dressing, seed mix, spice rub or marinade gives, this is how I take my food from bland to bam. It’s also a great way to increase the nutrient content of your meal.
Now thinking back to those times in your week when you struggle, start by prepping there first.
An example: Say your day was super busy around lunchtime. On Sunday night you’re having steak and salad. When you put together your salad for that evening, prepare 3 additional serves of the salad, putting them into individual bowls, leaving off any dressing (this can make your salad soggy). Divide the dressing into small containers and place in the fridge. When you’re cooking dinner each night make sure you add an extra piece of meat, use this to add to your salad for the next day. Voila! Three healthy lunches with little extra effort.
The time you spend on prepping can be as little as 10-20mins each night or morning, chopping up vegetables for dinner or snacks, cooking extra an meal each night to spending a few hours before your week begins and batching a few meals. The latter is what I do. I’m away from home 7am to 7pm most work days, by the time I get in my daily dose of movement in the mornings and have a little downtime in the evenings I don’t have time to be spending cooking and prepping on those days. I would normally prep breakfast and lunch for each of the days I’m at work and have one pan dinners planned for when I get home.
This is a good time to remind you that the point of meal prepping is to make life easier. So if it’s not easy for you to do 2 hours of food prep. Don’t.
A few more suggestions that you might be able to do…
– Maybe you can pre-marinate your meat then freeze it in serving sized batches.
– Pre-make meat patties and do the same.
– Have your smoothie ingredients in snap lock bags in the fridge/freezer, ready to throw into a blender.
– Make a big batch of your favourite dip, like hummus so it’s ready to add to meals or have as a snack.
– Pre-chop vegetables so they are ready to stir-fry or steam. (This is best done the moment you get your veggies back home – eg: Broccoli and cauliflower cut into florets). – Most good quality carbohydrates take a little longer to cook, these are great to make ahead – think quinoa, brown rice.
I’ll run you through what an afternoon of meal prepping looks like for me.
I have a look at what’s on work wise for the week and decide what I’m going to need for example, 4 breakfasts and 5 lunches (I usually will eat at least one breakfast or lunch out during the work week, sometimes I will also need a dinner or two). I then decide what I’m going to eat. This is totally dependent on what I feel like. Sometimes its a salad, sometimes it’s soups, sometimes it’s vegetables. I then start with what will take the longest. If I need to cook up some of my signature loaf that will go on first. If I have the oven on I will chop up a heap of veggies and roast them at the same time. I will then cook up any meat. This is usually some marinated chicken, grass fed mince or fish. Then I would make up a big salad. From this I would grab out 4 containers (2 for breakfast, 2 for lunch)and start putting together my meals. Big handful of green leaves topped with the roasted veg and a serve of the meat. I’ll put some butter in a small container and a piece of my loaf in a snap lock bag. Breakfast done. For lunch it would be the same. Serve of salad in each bowl with a serve of meat and probably some nuts. The dressing would go into a small container. The leftovers for the next few days would go into the fridge and I would put together another two days worth of meals when the first ones run out. Each morning all I have to do is go to the fridge, pull out the two meals, pop them into my cooler bag and I’m done. The stress reduction alone of not having to rush around after the gym is reason enough for me to think this is amazing!
Now it’s Over to You
I hope this has helped you not only understand meal prep but also how you can do it! Try a few different ways until you find something that works for you. Any meal prep that can help you not only make better decisions around food but also give you time back in your day is better than none. A little can go a long way here.
“If you are what you eat then you might as well eat something good”
If you still feel like you would like a little help I have created a FREE Meal Prep Friendly Eating Plan complete with recipes and a shopping list to help get you started. Click here to grab your copy, all you need to do is pop in your name and email.
If you have any other questions please contact me here. Also I would love to see what your meal prep looks like so send me pictures or tag @thenourishingway_ and use #nourishingmealprep on instagram.