Making meals ahead of time not only makes it easier to eat healthily. It will also save you time trying to figure out what to eat each day! If you often stare into the fridge wondering what to cook, meal preparation can be a lifesaver!
I know some people swear by meal prep, while others say they don’t have time, they can’t cook or find it too boring. That’s why I wanted to give you all some tips to help you up your meal prep game!
Here’s how you can easily make meal prep work for you:
Stock up your cupboards
There are the ingredients you will use over and over again. Things like beans, seeds, rice and grains. Often, these ingredients can be purchased in bulk, so you may find it works out cheaper to buy them this way. You can also purchase other ingredients that are in season, like fruit and vegetables, and freeze them.
Canned proteins, like tuna, salmon and legumes can also be stored in your cupboards (or in desk drawers at work). These sources of protein can be quickly added to a salad, sandwich or a wrap to help keep your tummy happy. Perfect for when you need to put lunch together quickly!
Prepare ingredients instead of full meals
Meal preparation can seem overwhelming at first, but it can actually be really simple!
The big thing to remember is to try and include foods from each of the main food groups. You should be particularly focused on having complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats on your plate. Think of these as the main elements that need to be in every meal. That’s why a simple combination such as brown rice with vegetables, chicken and avocado is hard to beat!
To make meal prep easier for yourself, focus on preparing ingredients, rather than full meals. Wash, chop and prepare your vegetables then store them in airtight containers in the fridge. Cook grains (like quinoa, brown rice or barley) ahead of time and freeze the portions in individual freezer bags. Then you can just combine the ingredients to build a healthy salad or hot meal.
Store your ingredients correctly
No one wants to waste food, so make sure you are storing prepared ingredients correctly. Plus, you don’t want to risk eating something that has gone bad! Here are a few pointers on how long those meal prep foods last:
Boiled eggs — In their shell, boiled eggs can be stored for up to one week. Once the shell has been removed, they need to be eaten the same day.
Cooked rice — Keep cooked rice in an airtight container in the fridge and eat it within two to three days.
Cooked chicken or salmon — Once cooked, chicken or salmon can keep for up to two days in the fridge.
Roasted vegetables — After roasting, vegetables can be placed in airtight containers and stored for up to a week in the fridge.
Legumes and lentils — Try to use these within two days of cooking.
Grilled red meat — Store in a container in the fridge and use within three days of cooking.
Prepared soups or stews — Freeze for up to 2 months, or keep in the fridge and use within 3 days.
Choose simple meals and snacks
Remember this everyone: meal prep is supposed to make it easier for you to eat healthy! So, don’t get bogged down with trying to find new recipes to try every week (unless you want to, of course!). A few key meals that you can rotate each day/week can make preparing meals so much easier and it doesn’t have to be boring.
Make chicken and vegetables more interesting by adding different herbs and spices. Try different dips, like hummus, beetroot dip or tzatziki, and dip slices of veggies into it for a snack! If you have a slow cooker, use it to make delicious stews or soups that you can portion and store to use during the week.
Meal prep can be really helpful if you are trying to stick to a well-balanced diet. You can plan meals for the week, shop less and still enjoy delicious, healthy meals!
Hopefully these tips will help you to maximise your own meal prep!