The key is to making your food healthier is to prepare meals that are simple, repeatable, and easy to access so that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice. This is where meal prepping comes into its own. Meal prepping in five easy steps is designed so that you can start today and soon you won’t even think about it as it becomes part of your usual routine.
I used to think meal prepping was so complicated or boring, so I’d procrastinate and waited to make things day-by-day. Now I realise it saves so much time to prep food in advance. The first step is to put on a fun cooking playlist and dance around as you wash, chop and cook. Secondly, take the ‘simple is better’ approach and just start off with just a few easy, straightforward meals. There’s no need to prep your whole week’s eating in one go. Instead, just prep a few lunches and a dinner or two and you’ll reap the benefits, including;
- Extra change: you won’t waste many euros on buying your lunch at work or on ingredients you don’t use at home
- More time: prepping components of meals or entire meals in advance definitely saves time (and precious energy!) during the week
- Less stress: it’s one thing less to worry about during the week, because we’re all busy enough as it is!
- Healthier food: it’s easy to make the healthier choice when it’s ready (or almost ready) when you get home from work!
Meal Prepping in Five Easy Steps
- Get decent containers: invest in high-quality containers. It’s worth spending a bit on these so that they last. Also important that you’re able to pop them into the dishwasher and the microwave without warping. Meal prep containers save time, space, are portable and offer great portion control, which is crucial on any weight loss plan.
- Write a meal plan: this means writing out what you (and maybe the family) will eat for the week ahead. Take a look at the plan devised for you by your Motivation Weight Loss Consultant and swap meals or customize ingredients to your liking. Focus on the protein and veggies first, followed with a small amount of slow-release or wholegrain carbs (or none at all in some cases) and possibly a small amount of healthy fats. So that your dinners should each comprise a decent serving of lean protein (chicken, fish, eggs, tofu, yogurt, beans), veggies and salad (aim for lots of colour), complex carbs (wholegrain bread, quinoa, rice or oats) and some healthy fat (olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado).
- Stick to a food shopping list: First, I go through my meal plan and write in ingredients that we need beside each meal. Then I write up a shopping list. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend ordering your food shopping online, particularly for busy parents who work fulltime. Not only does it save you time, but you are less likely to impulse buy, and will end up with exactly what you need for cooking. Read our blog for more advice on healthy food shopping and recap on how to food labels before you do your shop.
- Pencil in the prep time: Set aside 1-3 hours to do this prep work (depending on how many days you’re cooking for). I like to prep in batches. For example, I prep 2-3 days of meals at a time which is plenty. After you finish cooking and portioning your meals into your storage containers, refrigerate or freeze your meals. Most pre-made meals can last 3-4 days in the fridge. Some favorites of mine include:
- Breakfast: chopped apple, Greek yoghurt, a small amount of oats, and cinnamon
- Lunch: fresh salad with lots of greens – prepped, washed and in a container ready to go (I add the protein – such as smoked salmon – on the day)
- Dinner: cooked veggies and protein (I cook up chicken breasts or salmon fillets in advance so they are ready to go and I also pre-chop the veggies and often cook lentils, which are high protein, in a stock cube and then place in a container so they are ready to go as a ‘side’ to the protein). Have a read of our blog on beans and pulses as they are a great food to prep in advance.
- Post-workout snack: a Motivation protein bar or a small handful of almonds with some fruit or hummus with carrot sticks.
- Invest in a slow-cooker: this clever kitchen appliance whips up healthy, low-maintenance meals while infusing every dish with tons of flavour. It has the ability to dramatically reduce the amount of eating out you and your family do so it will save you money and time. With a bit of planning and preparation you can always have a stock of easy meals to eat and, if you’re like me and don’t exactly love cooking, it means providing nourishing, tasty family dinners becomes so much easier. I often cook a whole chicken, chicken thighs or a beef or lamb stew in my slow cooker and it is so handy. I prep everything the night before, which takes less than 10 minutes, then switch it on the next morning at around 9am and then it’s ready for dinner at 5pm. Plus its delicious, as it keeps the meat very moist. There is a ‘warm’ setting on my slow cooker, so if we’re not ready to eat til later, I just turn it to warm and then it’s ready when we are! A life-saver!
There you have, meal prepping in five easy steps – best of luck food prepping y’all!