Meal prep is something that has long been synonymous with the bodybuilding scene, but loads of different people are taking to it these days. It can help you stay on top of your healthy eating as well as save you a little time and money in the long run.
If you feel a little intimidated by the thought of prepping your meals several days in advance, don’t worry. The idea of a fridge full of labelled Tupperware or 10 pots and pans in the sink at one time can seem overwhelming, but remember, you don’t have to prep all of your meals, just some - and once you’ve done it for the first time, you’ll pretty much have it nailed.
Here are some quick and easy tips that’ll help you become a meal prep wizard.
1 Get the gear
First thing’s first. It’s time to go Tupperware shopping. Those throw-away containers you’ve got lying around from last night’s takeaway aren’t gonna cut it. Airtight. Stackable. The perfect size. These are all things to consider.
Investing in a cool bag is also a good idea if you’re picky about the temperature of your food, or if you’re constantly on the go and don’t have access to a fridge or microwave during the day.
2 Write a list
Making lists are every organised person’s secret weapon. First, plan which meals you’ll want to prepare for the week ahead. The key here is to make sure that ingredients - if not complete meals - feature enough times that you’re able to use up all the food you buy for the week. For example, if you’re using chickpeas, how many meals will one can provide? This will help you reduce waste as well as save money.
Next, make a list of all the ingredients you’ll need to buy. This will make your shopping trip significantly easier and quicker. Try not to buy anything that’s not on your shopping list - this will also help to reduce waste and save money.
3 Make some space
Ok, so writing your meal plans and shopping list has helped you clear the necessary mental space to meal prep, now it’s time to make some space in the kitchen.
Your fridge is about to get packed, so make sure there’s enough room in there to house the incoming Tupperware. You might want to freeze some meals too, so do the same for the freezer.
Clean and clear up the whole kitchen area before you start - there’s about to be a build-up of washing up, and you’re probably going to use a billion pots and pans. Don’t worry though - get this over with once and you can chill for the rest of the week.
4 Nail the nutrition
Now that you’re planning your meals in advance rather than settling for what’s available come lunchtime, it’s the perfect opportunity to get your healthy eating where it needs to be.
Aim for a solid portion of protein (chicken, eggs or tofu, for example), and pair that with a healthy portion of unrefined carbohydrates like quinoa, brown rice or sweet potato. Don’t forget your healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, nuts and seeds...), and finally, add lots of varied veg - kale, broccoli, courgette... the possibilities are endless. Meals of course should be adjusted according to how active you are, too.
5 Stock your cupboards
To make life easier and to save money in the long run, stock up your cupboards with the essentials that have a long shelf-life. Think ingredients that you’re likely to use over and over while doing meal prep such as rice, pulses, herbs and spices.
These staples go a long way, and also ensure you’ve got something to whip up if you need to make an impromptu meal at any point. Before heading out on a big shop, check your cupboards first to make sure you’re not doubling up on anything.