If you’re looking to start making changes to the way you eat, one of the easiest ways to simplify the process is by pre-preparing meals. Now, I’m not talking bodybuilder-style containers of cold chicken, steamed broccoli and sweet potato ;).
Meal preparation surpasses any food trend, it’s seriously handy and means you get to eat homemade food frequently. The fact that it's grab-and-go but healthy also makes a big difference to your daily routine and long term health goals.
Preparing meals and making meals ahead of time, ensures you’re eating foods that are better for you, healthier and more likely unprocessed. Basically, it means you’re less likely to run down to the store during a break and come back with three packets of chips, two slabs of chocolate and a family pizza with all the trimmings, for one.
By packing your own meals, you can ensure that they’re portion controlled and not from a packet, saving you, your wallet and the environment. If this all sounds a little overwhelming to you don’t worry, I’ve got you!
Let’s talk about easy ways to start meal prepping so you can get the most out of it and enjoy the process - just think of it like a meditation practise; you’re in the moment and before you’ve had time to think the job is done!.
If you’ve ever looked at the Insta feed of a famous foodstagrammer, I’m sure you’ve noticed fancy recipes prepared for each meal of the day. While that’s great, that’s not the aim of meal prepping. Meal prepping is done to make your life easier so, you don’t stress. Rather than starting to prepare gourmet, five-star meals for every day of the week, start with recipes you already know or, very simple ones.
The first thing I recommend doing is picking a day to prepare. Pick one or two days a week that you can set aside some time to prepare meals. Maybe this is a day you have off work, away from the family or just have some extra time. I like meal prepping on Sunday and Wednesday night as I have some time off then, but choose the days that work for you.
The second thing to do is pick the meal you want to create. If you never have time to make breakfast, start with that. I've got a great breakfast bowl here and more tips on how to meal prep here. If you’re usually stuck without lunch, try that. Or, if you come home late and can never be bothered to cook once you get home, that’s your meal prep meal.
If all of these sound like you, start off with one and slowly build up so you don’t get overwhelmed by the process.
Before you do your grocery shop, ensure you include everything you’ll need for these meals. You may choose to focus on one simple meal like roast chicken and cook enough so it can be portioned out for a few days. If you’re cooking with your oven, use it to its fullest potential, even if that means cooking with multiple oven trays to get it done. If you don’t want to create specific meals that’s okay too. My favourite way to meal prep is to cook separate bits and pieces to create meals the night before. I like to think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure.
For example, if you have fresh vegetables on hand, chop and prep them and enjoy them with some of my other recipes such as:
And then mix-and-match what you want to eat the night before. If you are cooking dinner throughout the week, I recommend cooking double and then adding it to your meal prep selection for the next few days. Preparing your meals and snacks in advance will save you time and money in the long run.
If you’re into renewable meals, read this post from my eBook The Renewable Table on how to build a renewable table- that means to cook once and let that food stretch. By cooking in larger batches and creating a ‘base meal’, you can reclaim it to make delicious meals that can live on for another meal or four. You can create chicken schnitzels for dinner that turn into a schnitzel and broccoli salad the next day and a delicious schnitzel wrap here.
I’ve also created an ultimate guide to batch cooking which will give you everything you need to know about building a menu, the cooking day, preparation tips, baking and roasting tips, what ingredients to use, labelling and how to store them.
Speaking of roasting, if the oven isn’t your thing, I also love a good slow-cooker or crock-pot recipe for ease and convenience. Two of my favourites are my Supercharged Lamb Bone Broth and Rosemary and Thyme Chicken Stew.
When you’re storing away your food, make sure you have enough containers. I recommend ones that are BPA-free, stackable, reusable and air-tight to avoid leakages.
If you’re looking for a new breakfast recipe to add to the meal rotation, there’s nothing easier than a chia brekkie jar. Chia seeds are high in a plethora of nutrients, including fibre, to help keep you fuller for longer. If you’ve never used chia seeds before, they absorb water and turn into a jelly kind of consistency. Chia’s to that fun time.
And there you have it, meal prepping for the beginner. I’d love to know, do you practice meal prep. If so, what do you like to prepare in advance?
Raspberry & Chia Overnight Brekkie Jar
Cut these ingredients the night before and take the hectic out of the morning rush hour.
- 1 small handful of fresh or frozen raspberries, plus extra to serve
- 1 small handful of fresh or frozen organic blueberries, plus extra to serve
- Pinch of vanilla powder
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons coconut flakes
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 tsp Love Your Gut powder
- 250ml (1 cup) non-dairy milk of your choice; almond milk is nice
- 1 tablespoon nut butter (optional)
Combine the berries, vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, love your gut powder and chia seeds in a mason jar. Gently mash the berries, then stir in the milk. Pop the lid on and leave in the fridge overnight. Serve topped with the nut butter and extra berries.