Ever get fed up with deciding where to go for lunch, what to eat, and spending too much cash on it in the process?
Or despite your best meal prep intentions, feel like by the time you have arrived home, cooked and eaten, it’s simply time to jump into bed and set that dreaded alarm again?
Meal prep may indeed seem like a chore, however with the right approach it is actually rather simple and doesn't have to be overly time consuming. Still need convincing? Then read on…
The undeniable benefits of meal prep
Money is one of the top stressors out there; it can cause tension, conflict and anxiety. So why not step into a healthy habit that helps to save up some dough and reduce stress!
Eating out on a daily basis quickly adds up financially, so keep a stack of meals in your fridge to avoid over spending. Planning your meals in advance will make you shop with more of a focus and be less likely to divert and splurge during your weekly shop.
To keep things cost-efficient, buy a few key ingredients and use them to inspire your breakfasts, lunches or dinners. With this approach you’re also less likely to have so much food waste by the end of the week. Win win!
Amidst the pace of modern life, it can be hard to motivate yourself to make your meals daily. But by meal prepping in batches, once your food is all boxed up, you just need a few seconds come meal time to add a few extra toppings, from pomegranate to nuts and maybe a tasty sauce. Last minute sandwich grabs and disappointing microwave meals can become a thing of the past, which is great news for your waistline and wallet.
You know what you’re eating
This is a key benefit to meal prepping. Whether you have certain allergies, are on a specific diet, or have certain weight and fitness goals, meal prep ensures you are controlling exactly what you want your body to consume.
By being fully conscious of the nutritional value of your food and subsequently avoiding hidden nasties, you will undoubtedly feel more empowered both physically and mentally by fueling up this way. It is true what they say, a healthy body is a healthy mind, so it’s time to get your hands dirty in the kitchen!
This point is perhaps less obvious, but of equal importance. Meal prepping can truly help you to feel less stressed and anxious, through the process of prepping and the outcome itself. Meal prep encourages mindfulness, teaches you balance and helps to keep your life simple.
We’re all about removing unnecessary stress from your daily routine. And with a direct link between stress and the health and function of your immune system, meal prep does not only offer reassurance and clarity for the mind - your gut and sleep cycle will thank you for it too.
When to meal prep
Find a day and a time that suits your schedule best, then try to make it a habit. I try to meal prep on a Sunday evening, after completing an afternoon shop at my local supermarket or farmers market. This helps me to bypass that Monday fear and feel prepared and ready for the week ahead!
How to meal prep
For lunch and dinner, my personal favourite technique is to opt for a ‘build a box’ style set up. It ensures diversity within your meals, so that you don’t get caught in a monotonous food cycle.
For example, prepare:
- 2 types of carbs or grains
- 2 types of your favourite proteins and/or dairy sources
- 4 types of your favourite veggies
You should have enough from this to create several different lunch or dinner boxes, by mixing and matching the foods in different ways.
Alternatively, you could store each food type in its own container and build your own box according to what you fancy on the day.
To avoid eating the same meal every day of the week, you can also add different spices, sauces and extra toppings, to ensure that extra crunch, excitement and fulfilment at each sitting. Keep a bag of spinach or rocket in the fridge too, as it’s a great addition or ingredient swap for any meal.
Ingredients to inspire your meal prep
- Green beans
- Slivered almonds
- Sun Dried tomatoes
- Grated apple
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
Save the best ‘til last...
I think it’s only right that we end on a sweet note! If, like me, you have a serious sweet tooth, then batch bake some nutritious cupcakes or cookies for the week ahead. If you’re on a health kick, you can always swap the butter for coconut oil, flour for blended oats, and sugar for natural sweeteners. For an extra health kick, add some fresh grated ginger or turmeric, or a couple of spoons of Maca or Lucuma powder.
By having healthy treats, you will be less likely to have sugar and junk food cravings, but will be left happy and with your sweet tooth satisfied! It also means you can avoid the daily splurge on panic-bought (and often overpriced) treats when you hit that afternoon slump at work.
Food is fuel and it is important to have a healthy and balanced relationship with it, so remember to enjoy the craft of meal prep, mindful meal times and most of all, keep it tasty!