If you’re one of those people who’s constantly opting for takeaway, or subbing in a bag of chips for your dinner, then meal prep could be the missing puzzle piece in hitting your fitness and well-being goals.
What is meal prep?
Meal prep (short for preparation) involves taking time to pre-pare your meals for the days ahead. It can take on a variety of forms and while some people may prepare every single meal for the entire week, others may find more value in preparing certain parts of a meal that can be quite tedious. When choosing your own meal prep method, it’s important to make sure you utilise one that’s suitable to your individual schedule and needs.
Why is everyone doing it?
Meal prepping helps you control portion sizes, eat cleaner, save money and make the most of your time. By having a ready-made meal easily available, you eliminate the temptation to eat the entirety of a restaurant serving size that’s likely filled with sodium, fat and sugar. Additionally, cooking in bulk is generally a much cheaper alternative to eating out. Meal prep can vastly reduce costs and improve health so long as you’re disciplined with it.
How do I meal prep?
To help you get started, we’ve made a list of some basic steps. Meal prepping for an entire week can seem a bit daunting, but once you find your rhythm it’s worth it.
Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to prep every single meal and snack for the week ahead. Start off by prepping one meal (or even one portion of a meal) and picking a recipe you’re familiar with.
Make a plan. Before going to the grocery store break down the week into the meals you’ll be prepping and list out the ingredients you’ll need for each recipe. Make sure you devise a meal prep plan that works for you. If you’re feeling a bit lost, a good place to start is having a look in your fridge to see what you already have. See example below:
Monday – Fish tacos: fish, tortillas, greens, tomatoes.
Thursday – Homemade pizza with cauliflower base: cauliflower rice, pizza sauce, cheese, mushrooms (x2 for Bolognese), capsicum, red onion.
Friday –Chicken and roast veggies: chicken breast, pumpkin, red onion (x2 for pizza), zucchini, potatoes.
Find food inspiration. A LOT of people meal prep and share their recipes and ideas online. If you need a bit of inspiration, do some research!
Use smart ingredients. One method of meal prep involves using the same ingredients to make several different meals. If you’re someone who can’t stand eating the same thing more than once, but don’t want to buy a whole range of ingredients, this could be a great option for you. Use the same foods as a base but change it up with seasoning, sauce or the way in which it’s prepared.
Cook in bulk. Meal prep is designed to help you save time, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be utilised the same week. A great cost-effective option is to cook in bulk. Freeze any food you aren’t ready to eat, then take it out a few weeks later for another healthy pre-made meal ready to go.
Buy the right containers and store your food properly. Storing your food safely is extremely important and can also prolong its shelf life. If you prep a salad for the week, store the dressing and more liquid-based ingredients separately. This will prevent it from going off more quickly.
Pick a time and day that works for you (think ahead). This ties in with ‘making a plan.’ If meal prepping will help you achieve your goals, then it’s really important you find time to prioritise it. When first starting out you should set aside at least a couple hours so that you are able to get the hang of it and do it properly.
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