MEAL PREPPING – THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO LEARN THIS SKILL
If you’re serious about getting your nutrition under control whether that be for weight loss or athletic gains one of the most effective tools you have is “meal prep. Meal prep or meal preparation is simply preparing your day’s nutrition in advance (even up to a week in advance can be done).
Meal prep can help for a number of reasons including:
- Time saving – get all your cooking done at one time.
- Quantities – you can measure how much you need to eat for your goals
- Prevents bad food choices – food it prepped and ready so you’re less likely to get super hungry and call Talabat
- Tracking – You know what you are eating so you can easily adjust nutrition if you’re not making the progress you expect.
Meal prepping though, is a skill, it takes a bit of time in the kitchen and a bit of effort. The usual excuse for not meal prepping is “I don’t have time” – well guess what!? Now you do!
If you think your nutrition could do with some help then why not take this opportunity to give meal prep a go, once you get the hang of it then it’s not that bad and could eventually save you time! Here is some advice for getting started:
MEAL PREP: FIRST STEPS
GET HIGH-QUALITY FOOD STORAGE CONTAINERS
use quality food storage containers to keep meal prep food hot (or cold).
We recommend avoiding reusable plastics and plastic bags whenever possible. Aside from carcinogenic BPA, even non-BPA plastics can contain estrogenic chemicals that leach into your food and mess with your hormones. And if you heat these plastics in the microwave, they may leach compounds into your food. Gross.
The bottom line: Glass or stainless storage containers are your friends. Avoid storing food in plastic whenever you can, and keep plastic out of the microwave whenever possible.
CHOOSE RECIPES AND BUILD YOUR MENU
What foods can you prep? You can meal prep pretty much any food that holds up well in storage and tastes palatable to you after a few days in the refrigerator. Cooked meat, roasted vegetables, soups, sauces, nuts and hard, raw vegetables make good bases for meal prep recipes.
Soft vegetables, cut fruit and crunchy food like crackers tend to get soft when stored in containers and are not so nice after a few hours let alone a few days
Choosing the recipes, or meals is the most important part. Start with food that you like to eat and then adapt it to your goals. Detailed macro counting is a pain but does work (we can help you with this part if you need it). But if you’re just starting out and your nutrition has not been great before then you probably don’t need to bother with detailed macros – the simple act of preparing food and not eating junk may be enough to get you started.
Generally you need for the main meals a lean protein source about the size of your fist and complex carbohydrate source about the same. Greens as much as you like and about a tablespoon of fat.
Allow for 3 main meals and two snacks.
Exact quantities really don’t matter too much. Once you get in the habit of meal prep and eating homemade food every day you can test and adjust as needed for your goals. FOr most this simple act can make all the difference – if you’re still not seeing benefits after a couple of weeks then it’s time to adjust.
Your ingredients list should include items from the table below – if something you like is not on here but it is natural and unprocessed and not incredibly fatty or incredibly sweet then it is probably ok
Fat Free Greek Yogurt
Fish (other than salmon)
Lean Ground Beef
Whole Grain Wraps
Whole Grain Bread
Whole Wheat Pasta
Brown or Wild Rice
All Nut Butters (natural)
SCHEDULE TIME FOR MEAL PREP
You can’t meal prep without prep time. Schedule one to two days per week to prep your meals. If you multitask a little (use your oven and hob to prep more than one food at once, for example), you’ll cut down on time even more – slow cookers are great for meal prep as are big over based dishes.
HOW TO MEAL PREP: FOOD SAFETY
There are no hard-and-fast rules for how long your food will stay fresh. The safety of your meal prep depends a lot on your refrigerator, how you packed it and the quality of your ingredients.
Most meal prep meals will last between three to five days in the fridge. If you want to meal prep for the whole week, you’ll want to schedule two days a week to do so (such as Sunday and Wednesday) to keep food as fresh as possible. Some foods like salad are really so much better prepared on the same day
SHOULD I MEAL PREP IF I DON’T LIKE EATING THE SAME THING EVERY DAY?
Prepping the exact same meal every day can save a lot of time — but it also gets boring. If you tire of eating the same meals over and over, make small tweaks to your meal prep to make each dish a little different. For example, swap in different veggies, sauces or garnishes for each container to keep things interesting.
Alternatively, you can prep and freeze multiple recipes ahead of time. Then, thaw one or two containers in the refrigerator every day so you can enjoy different dishes throughout the week.
HOW TO MEAL PREP: AVOIDING COMMON MISTAKES
KEEP MEAL PREP SIMPLE
For beginners, start simple. Make one-pot recipes or focus on one main dish. Avoid the temptation to spend a whole day cooking elaborate meals. Too many recipes can complicate your meal prep fast, and you may not want to do it again if it was too hard the first time. Try making just one recipe ahead of time, then meal prep additional dishes when you get comfortable.
PREP BALANCED MEALS
Depending on your diet and health goals, plan meals that will keep you satisfied. It’s easy to make a big bowl of chili for lunch, but it wouldn’t serve as a complete meal. Make sure you get enough of the right food groups – simple guide a fist of protein, a fist of carbs and as much green vegetables as you like
COOK RECIPES YOU’LL ACTUALLY EAT
As long as your meal prep dishes are balanced, you don’t need to branch out of your comfort zone. For beginners, make recipes you know you’ll love — anything less could result in wasted food (and wasted time).
MAKE ENOUGH FOOD
It sounds straightforward, but make sure you prep enough food to fit your plan. Keep your schedule in mind: Events like work lunches and happy hours can interfere with mealtime. Do you truly need to prep a meal every day, or just enough for a few days at a time?
MEAL PREP TOP TIPS
- If you’re starting out then no need for macros – just good food not junk for all your meals will make a difference so don’t worry about the detail
- Load up on vegetables if you need more to eat before adding grains or proteins
- Make food you like, don’t go for super healthy stuff. Sustainability is key
- 3 main meals a day and 2 snacks. Main meals to include protein, veggies, grains, fat. Snacks can be fruit or a small protein plus veggie combo (e.g. tuna plus salad)
- Don’t be afraid to play with it. Make a start and then adjust – practice makes perfect
- Don’t try and be perfect from the start – the key is starting even if you only prep your lunch then it’s better than a takeaway
- For health follow the general rules – no added sugar, no pre prepared anything – meal prep is all about you making the food – a pizza slice in a box doesn’t count!
- Try it and see. If it’s not working then we can help you with the details but I promise you getting into the habit of eating homemade food will make you better.