Whether you are looking to make healthier food choices or just trying to save some time spent in the kitchen, meal prepping is a great idea to keep you on track with your diet and food plan while helping you save a little money too!
Buying food out all the time is not only expensive but it’s also going to ruin your diet as it’s harder to control the ingredients and nutrients you’re putting into your body. There are lots of hidden sugars, fats and salts in ‘ready to grab’ meals, so by cooking and preparing your own food you at least know exactly what you are eating and how fresh the ingredients are.
We’ve put together a simple guide to prepping your meals ahead of time – keep reading to become a meal prepping pro!
What is meal prepping and how do I become a prepping pro?
Simply put, meal prepping is the process of preparing a few meals ahead of time and portioning them out to enjoy throughout the week. You can prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks ahead of time, or just a few meals here and there if you want to save time and effort after a long day at work.
Prepping is a great way of controlling your portions and moderating the ingredients you’re putting in your food. There are certain recipes and ingredients that keep better than others, so figuring out what’s good to batch cook ahead of time can be a case of trial and error.
Here’s how you get started:
There are a few different ways to meal prep and the right one for you will come down to your time schedule and the way you prefer to cook – try a few of these methods and see what works best for you.
Make a weekly meal plan
- Make a larger portion of the meal you are cooking and keep behind at least half to split into 2-3 meals for the future. Pop it in the freezer and re-heat when you need to.
- Dedicate a few hours to batch cooking a few different dishes and freeze it all for a stockpile of meals that are ready to go when you need them.
- If you prefer to cook the meals just before you eat them, you can save yourself time by preparing the ingredients that you’ll need the night before. That way you won’t have to worry about the chopping and peeling vegetables after a long day.
Once you’ve decided how you’ll prep your meals, you can start planning out what you’ll eat and when! Making a weekly food plan will help you prepare what you’re eating with time to shop for ingredients ahead of time - you’ll be less likely to reach for the takeaway menu too!
If you aren’t sure what to cook, stick to meals you know. Some rice, a few chicken breasts and lots of steamed veg is a quick, easy and healthy meal to fall back on, plus you can season it differently each time with various spices, so it doesn’t feel too repetitive.
A stir fry is also a tasty idea that isn’t too bad for you if you go light on the oils and sauces. You can also grab some fruits and veggies to prep before breakfast so all you need to do is pop them in a blender for an easy way to start your day.
Make a list of the meals you want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the week. That way you can make a shopping list of exactly what you’ll need (and prevent yourself from popping in a few extra treats to tempt you during the week)! Not only will this help to keep you on track with your meal plan, it will also help you to save some money in the long run.
Once you know what you’re having, you can start preparing it ahead of time. You can either batch cook it all in one day and just re-heat it throughout the week or cook a few days’ worth of food and cook the rest on another evening later in the week. There’s no perfect fix, you’ll just need to figure out what suits you.
Prep and store
Make the most of your time in the kitchen by planning your schedule beforehand. Start with the meals that will take the longest to cook – for example stews and chilli’s, and end with the meals that take the least amount of time to cook (you can also prepare these another day if you run out of time).
Make sure you have plenty of containers that are suitable for freezing and microwaving at home in a range of sizes. Don’t forget to label your tubs so you know what you have, the portion sizes (if you are keeping track of this), and the date you cooked it.
Be mindful of storage life, food will last longer if it’s frozen rather than being refrigerated so make sure you take into consideration any time you’ll need to defrost it before you re-heat it.
That’s it! You’re ready to start prepping meals like a pro!
Looking for more healthy meal inspiration?
Try these 10 breakfast ideas for before and after your workout!