Meal Prep 101
Meal prep has for a long time been considered something exclusively for those enamoured with fitness/weight, showcasing Tupperware containing only chicken, rice and peas. I want to change that viewpoint, I know that meal prepping can be beneficial to many people and it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.Let me break down the ways you can make meal prep work for you, without hours in the kitchen, huge expense or wasting any produce.
The best starting point is to spend 10 minutes in your kitchen and write a plan, consider the following:
What do you enjoy/want to eat?
What do you already have in the fridge/cupboards that could do with being used?
How many meals do you need/want to make?
What do you need to buy in your weekly shop?
The objective here is to avoid food waste, alongside excess cost and to ensure you always have a meal worth looking forward to. The great thing about meal prepping is it can be used as a great tool to save money, for example, fruit and vegetables in the reduced section of the supermarket can be brought and used right away. Also, by considering what you already have to use up, which will reduce the amount of food you throw out.
The number of people who claim they don’t have enough time for breakfast makes me feel sad because breakfast is all about breaking the fast. There are so many options including sweet, savoury and portable and by preparing in advance you have no risk of leaving the house hungry.
One Dish Dinner
Tray bakes are completely underrated in my opinion, the above can be varied accordingly to your tastes and hugely speed up your meal prepping process.
Less mess and reduced washing up
4+ meals in under an hour
Perfectly balanced and satisfying
Keep Everything SIMPLE!
The aim is to make life easier, why complicate something that should be completely straight forward?
Batch make bolognese: This can be turned into cottage pie, teamed with vegetables, pasta or add some spice and make tacos. Veggies/vegans: quorn mince or lentils work really well and make a very satisfying bolognese.
Burgers + Patties: This can take a lot of time; all that frying, shaping and fuss? Cut that out by baking homemade burgers in loaf tins and slicing once they’ve cooled. This does work best with vegetable based burgers but I’ve had success with tuna and pork mince by adding slightly more egg. Veggies/vegans: use flax to replace eggs and provide a protein boost.
Potatoes are your flexible friend: You can pre: make; chips, mash, wedges or creamy potato bake and it’ll all freeze well.
Fresh is best, but frozen is fine: We live in a world where we can buy bags of frozen pomegranate, asparagus and Mediterranean vegetables – What a time to be alive?
Add carbs later: There are weeks when I batch cook meat and vegetables which provides me with the flexibility to add rice, couscous, wraps, potato or whatever I fancy.
Prepare fruit and vegetables right away. Why spend £2.00-3.50 on a fruit salad when you can buy the fruit and vegetables freshly and create your own? Any uneaten fruit or fruit close to expiry can be frozen to use in smoothies, just throw some fruit and greens into a ‘seal it‘ bag and freeze for another day.
Let’s talk about freezing food.
Okay, I’ll start with meat; as long as it’s cooked and you’ve allowed it to cool (and sealed in Tupperware) freezing for future consumption is fine. However, to stay on the side of caution, if you are in any doubt then throw it out. I aim to eat meals I’ve prepped and frozen within a month if there’s meat involved, with regards to vegetables and potatoes, I’ll leave these for up to 3 months.
*Baked oats, muffins and bread (as long as it’s sealed correctly) will freeze without a problem.
*You can freeze egg whites but I wouldn’t recommend cooked eggs
*Many sauces will freeze well, but I’d avoid any sauces with cream.
*When it comes to freezing vegetables I’ve found that courgette, butternut squash and any other high water vegetables do not freeze well. Strawberries and other high water fruits are fine to be frozen if they are going to be used in smoothies or crumbles.
I know that a few of my readers are vegetarian and vegan, or some of you just prefer to limit your animal product consumption and that’s just fine by me. I’ve previously mentioned little tweaks that can be made to ensure some of the meals I recommend can be vegan, but I feel one of the fastest vegan meal preps is ‘Budda Bowls’. Start by roasting a huge tray of vegetables, you can add tofu, falafel or another protein source if required. Whilst your vegetables are roasting, boil up a big ole saucepan of rice, quinoa, buckwheat or grain of choice. Then put together colourful bowls of vegetables, grains with added extras such as avocado, hummus, pulses and seasoned nuts.
*I love making vegan stew and this chickpea and sweet potato stew is super tasty.
*I’ll often eat roasted aubergine with lentil bolognese, thankfully this is super easy to make in large batches and very satisfying.
*Vegan chilli is another popular choice and can be teamed with rice, potato or turned into tacos or even a vegan sloppy joe burger.
Finally, I firmly recommend stocking up on Tupperware and let’s face it, you’re bound to lose the lids at somepoint! On that note, I recommend nipping to Poundland or similar and grabbing a selection of different sizes according to your needs.
My top tip is if they are a similar size that will make stacking in your freezer a lot more space efficient.
For me; meal prep is a hugely important factor in ensuring I’m eating a balanced diet and saving time during this crazy journey we call life. It’s not for everyone, it most certainly shouldn’t be stressful and there’s no such thing as one cookie cutter plan for all. I feel it’s important to keep meals varied, try new recipes and don’t beat yourself up if you eat beans on toast instead.
I hope you enjoyed this post, I will be sharing more speedy recipes and low-cost options over the next few months. Do you have any meal prep tips or ‘to go’ meals to share?