The secret to clean eating and healthy living is all about preparation and organisation. As the old saying goes “abs are built in the kitchen”, and that saying is still true for achieving a healthy and a balanced way of life. And one thing we know for sure is that prepping your meals makes this task 10x easier and your goals even more likely to achieve. As well as being an obvious money-saving strategy, meal prepping is a win/win situation.
Regardless of whatever plan or programme you are following, and the end goal you want to reach, when you’re trying to adapt a healthy lifestyle and good, clean diet (aka what makes up your meals each everyday), your eating plan is just as important, if not more so, than your training. So by taking the simple step in preparing your meals in advance you can stop yourself from eating without thinking, and the regular snackcidents we are all guilty of (snacking by accident). It is also a super simple and convenient practice for people who are super during the week, and plays as a major life-saver on those nights you get home late and don’t feel like cooking.
In the fitness biz, this is called “meal prepping” and we have all the necessary tips and tricks you need to make sure you become a pro at it. Essentially to meal prep means to prepare, cook and store most of your weeks’ meals in one go, allowing you to eat at your convenience and to ensure that you are eating good, wholesome, healthy foods rather than take-away during the week. Personal trainers, and fitness addicts alike all swear by this and when you discover just how critical meal prepping is to your weekly routine, you will never not be able to do it again.
Planning is key
You are going to need to do a lot of planning in order to create enough tasty meals for the week ahead. This comes down to ensuring you have the right tools and ingredients, as well as the recipes for each meal. Make sure that you have enough food containers to store your food in once its prepped. These don’t have to be expensive, just some standard plastic takeaway style containers will do (even better if they are microwaveable and dishwasher friendly).
Decide on what meals you are going to be creating and ensure they are balanced with good ratios of protein, fats and nutrients in each portion.
Then write a shopping list, but make sure to multiply the ingredients so you have enough for however many meals you are creating. Knowing what you are cooking, checking your cupboard for spices and oils etc, before going to the supermarket will ensure you only stick to whats on the list.
Also, get to know your ingredients, and learn how you can create a bulk meal for the week ahead but add and swap in different ingredients for some variety, because trust us, eating the same meal three days in a row can become tiresome. Also, don’t discount your snacks as well. Eggs, frozen berries, yoghurts, veggie sticks… all great things to prepare in advance.
Seasoning is your best friend
Seasoning: whether that is just the standard salt and pepper, or maybe a few herbs, or even a squeeze of lemon juice will become your go-to gals in the kitchen. Each different seasoning can transform the same dish into something a little bit different. Eating the same meal every day can become tiresome, and eating nutritious and delicious food is supposed to be fun, so even if you are eating chicken as your protein source each day all week, line up some different combinations and various seasoning possibilities to create some tasty alternatives every day!
Schedule a time
Prepping a whole week’s worth of meals can take up a chunk of your time so make sure you are scheduling in enough time to bang it all out. And by learning how to multitask while cooking is going to become a life-long skill. Vegetables can be cut and washed while your meat and starch is cooking, and vice versa. And don’t worry this multi-tasking during cooking will become mere natural the more you do it. We recommend taking time on a Sunday afternoon to prep for the week ahead, it is honestly the most therapeutic way to commence a new week, all rearing and ready to go.
Label and store in the fridge or freezer
Make sure you are labelling your foods clearly – what’s inside, how long it takes to re-heat, when it was made etcetera. Anything that you are going to need to know before you eat it, because you probably will forget by the time it comes around to doing it.
As a general rule of thumb is that frozen food will keep for up to three months in a standard home freezer before showing signs of freezer burn (aka when it starts to grow little ice flakes). This is true for raw meats, cooked meats, prepared foods, breads, and anything else you might think of freezing.
Mix up your ideas
Still struggling to find some ideas on what to make for the week? Our top trick is to find a protein and a carb, throw in some veggies and then just swap and change it around with seasoning and veggies so you never get bored. Pair that with the above tips and you will have mastered the art of meal prepping. We have also put together a list of the main staples we think any active gal needs to meal prep like a boss, you just need to pick one or two from each list and add them together for some quick inspo.
Protein: Carbs: Vegetables:
Chicken Sweet Potato Broccoli
Steak Potato Cauliflower
Turkey Brown Rice Carrots
Fish Barley Courgette
Eggs Quinoa Mixed Veg
Tofu Cous-Cous Salad
Chick-peas Pasta Spinach/Kale
From the list above you could create:
Poached Eggs on sweet potato toast with wilted spinach
You can pre-cut the sweet potato toasts ready to just pop into your toaster in the morning. You can also poach your eggs and keep them for up to 5 days in the fridge and then just submerge them in hot water for 2 minutes to re-heat!
Mediterranean Chicken and vegetable quinoa bowl
This gorgeous slightly spiced recipe compromises chicken and roasted vegetables with a bunch of spices, and cooked quinoa can be made well in advance. Cook your quinoa and add into your chicken and vegetables to create this bowl, and keep some of the ingredients a part for other dishes during the week!
Grilled steak with garlic herb butter, potato wedges and salad
Cut, prepare and cook your potato wedges and then just place in the microwave for 2/3 minutes to re-heat. Pre-portion your salad for this meal too and then all you need to cook is your steak for a tasty and quick meal!