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Meal prepping - a simple way to succeed at healthy eating!

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

What is meal prepping?

Depending on who you follow on social media, you may well have seen many photos like the one on the right, in which case you are probably quite familiar with the concept of meal prepping, but if not, let me explain.

Meal prepping is basically preparing all, most or some of your meals ahead of time so that when it's time to eat the hard work is already done!

How can I benefit from meal prepping?

Does this sound familiar to you? You start the week having decided that this week you are going to eat much more healthily. You've even planned some meals to cook and bought the ingredients. But by the time you get home from work, you are so tired or so hungry that you decide cooking is going to take long. So you look in the cupboards or freezer for a quicker alternative. Maybe a frozen pizza or beans on toast? Before you know it you're half way through the week and have been living on nothing but processed or convenience food!

It might be the same at lunch time. On work days you might buy pre-made sandwiches or canteen food. That's fine now and again, but they can often contain lots of strange ingredients like preservatives and artificial flavourings and quite high amounts of sugar or salt. If you prepare your own lunch to take with you then at least you know exactly what is in it!

Planning and preparing you own food in advance gives you so much more control over what you eat. You are much more likely to stick to your healthy eating plan if you are organised. Remember the saying - "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail!".

Because you are planning exactly what you are going to eat and when, you will also find that you waste less food because you are only buying things that you will definitely use!

So how can I start meal prepping?

It doesn't take long to get into the habit of meal prepping. Here I will outline some easy steps for you:

1. Create a 7 day meal plan. I have created a blank meal plan for you to download and print off for free from the members page of this website! Just create an account or log in to access it. Basically you need to plan what you are going to eat for the following week. You may want to start with just planning your dinners, or maybe just do a few days at a time. But have a look at some recipes and decide what you would like to eat and when.

2. Create your shopping list. Look at the ingredients for the recipes you have chosen and check what you already have in your kitchen. Write down all of the ingredients you need to buy.

3. Pick a day to do your prepping. I find a Sunday works best for me. So on Saturday I plan the following week and buy all of the ingredients and then do my prepping on Sunday, but decide whichever day works best for you.

4. Start cooking! Decide which elements of the meals are best made ahead of time and get cracking! For example, you might want to make a few nicoise salads for lunches. So you can hard boil your eggs and cook your potatoes and green beans. You may even want to put your salads together in individual containers with the other ingredients to keep in the fridge until you need them. Just make sure in this instance that if you are making a vinaigrette that you keep it separate from the salad and only add it at the last minute. Soups are great for making advance and taking for lunch too, as long as you have a microwave at work. If you make a really big batch you can even freeze some to use later if you have an extra busy week!

Other things that are great to cook in advance are things like curry and chilli. They actually get better after a few days as the flavours mingle and develop. Then when it comes to dinner time, all you have to do is reheat and cook some rice. You could even cook a big batch of couscous or quinoa on your meal prep day instead of having rice to save even more time! (You can cook rice in advance but be careful, you need to cool it down really quickly to avoid harmful bacteria growth).

Don't forget your snacks! Snacks can often be our downfall when it comes to healthy eating. Hard boiled eggs can be kept in the fridge, or try making a batch of hummus which you can portion out into little containers or ramekins. Then chop up some carrot, celery and cucumber sticks to dip in. Keep these in an airtight container with water to keep them fresh.

And lastly, remember your freezer is your friend when it comes to meal prepping! Make double batches of foods that can be frozen, it literally halves the total time that you spend cooking!

So there you have it! I hope you find this useful and please leave a comment if you have any other meal prepping tips or recipes by signing up!

Happy prepping!

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