Whether you’re busy, lazy or super organised, meal prepping could answer your prayers
Meal prepping is all about preparing your meals for the following day or week, which sounds simple enough but there’s commitment involved. It can also mean something different to everyone and can range from making sure you make enough food on a Sunday night for lunches in the week, or chopping all your vegetables the night before ready to just throw in the wok the next day. Here are some tips that should help you meal prep.
First things first, buy some containers
It may sound obvious, but you’ll want to make sure you have enough containers suitable for freezing that will be able to hold all the food you want to make. It’s always worth buying too many than too little, especially if you can get them on the cheap – you don’t want to make a lot of food and have nowhere to store it. Also, make sure they have lockable lids to help prevent spilling. Why not use reusable lunch boxes instead of plastic? Made from natural sources like bamboo, they're great for helping you reduce the amount of plastic you use.
What are you prepping for?
It’s worth deciding what you’re actually going to meal prep for. If you’re a first timer, don’t try and prep everything all in one go as you might find it a little too much. Instead, choose one meal and go with that until you get the hang of it.
If you’re thinking about prepping for breakfast:
• Why don't you try out some healthy smoothies recipes which you can prep for the night before by chopping everything up, storing it in the fridge and adding to the blender come morning. Whilst you’re waiting for the yummy goodness to blend, you can make yourself a cuppa or a coffee, then you’re good to go
• Give overnight oats a go. Try soaking oats in a milk of your choice before bed, popping them in the fridge and adding fruit in the morning. If you keep them in the container you’re going to eat from, you can literally grab-and-go and eat them when you’re ready
If you’re thinking about prepping for lunch:
• Try putting aside some time to get your meals ready for lunches in the week. This doesn’t mean you need to make a bulk load of chicken and veg to eat every day; you could try making a few different meals that aren’t miles apart from each other ingredient wise. For example, try making a big batch of mincemeat or quorn mince with lots of veggies and make a chilli, casserole or add it to some pasta – already you have three lunches prepped
• You could even prep each night ready for lunch the next day by doubling up whatever you have for dinner. You can do this by just using double the ingredients you normally would, put aside what you’re going to have for lunch and pop it in the fridge once cooled
If you’re thinking about prepping for dinner:
• Whilst you’re waiting for your dinner to cook or if you have time afterwards, you could try prepping ingredients you’ll need for the next night and put them in a container in the fridge. This requires some planning ahead as you’ll need to know what you’re having the next night, but will be worth it once you get home from work and all your ingredients are chopped and ready to be cooked
• If you have a slow cooker, this is the perfect time to put it to use. All you need to do is prep your vegetables as outlined above but instead of putting them to use after work, let them get to work slowly throughout the day. There are plenty of slow cooker recipes out there, so go and have a quick search
Decide on recipes
This is a great time saver and will help you plan what you’re making in advance so you can whizz around the supermarket. If you’re on the hunt for lots of fresh fruit and veg, try to pick up ones without the packaging – every little change we can make helps the environment! Frozen fruit and veg has all the same goodness in as fresh fruit and veg, so if you can’t fill your fridge, fill your freezer instead! Boots nutritionist Vicky Pennington says, "I find having frozen packs of mixed vegetables ready in the freezer a quick and handy way of packing extra goodness into classic family-favourites." This is a great idea if you want to add lots of veggies to your slow cooker as they can just go in and cook throughout the day. Or if you want them as a side to a lunch dish you’ve prepared, you can let them defrost in the fridge overnight.
Set aside time
To prep your meals, you need to make sure you actually have the time to do this. Sunday is a great day to prep for the week ahead, as we all know how hard a Monday night can be! If you don’t have enough time to cook for lunches on a Sunday, try getting the shopping out of the way for the week ahead and double up your Sunday night tea for lunch the next day.
Store your food correctly & label
If you’re prepping for the whole week in one night then you need to make sure you label the containers for each day of the week and the date you made it – especially if you’ve made different portions or food for each day. If you’re freezing food make sure you’re able to thaw the food correctly or reheat it properly.
Finally, have fun!
Where you can, you should always try to incorporate fun into your activities that are seen as chores.
• Try using jam jar containers to store your food in – just because they’re cute to look at
• Pack all your meals with colour for the fun of it – and for nutritional purposes, too!
• Put your favourite song on and get chopping!