Have a comprehensive written plan and stick to it. Plan your meals, your quantities, your containers and your shopping guide ahead of time. It is so important to know what you are cooking, how much and when. Write down each breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks you will be eating, then break that down into a list of ingredients, and how much of each you will need. This will not only make your shopping experience a lot faster, but also less stressful and provide minimal opportunity of you selecting foods that you don’t need or are not part of your plan. When planning your meals, be sure to use recipes that can be prepared in advance and won’t spoil when reheating etc.
INVEST IN SOME GOOD QUALITY CONTAINERS:
Keep in mind that if you are going to be reheating your food in these so you want to choose containers that are BPA free or perhaps glass. I personally like to buy containers that are the same size and shape so they can be easily stacked in my fridge or freezer.
DON’T BE BORING:
Yes, you will need to prepare bulk foods such as protein, veg and grains… but that doesn’t mean you have to eat plain boiled chicken, broccoli and rice each and every day! Mix it up by using a variety of different proteins- chicken, fish, beef and by adding spices, homemade sauces, lemon juice, olive oil etc.
STICK WITH STAPLES:
I know, I know. I just said don’t be boring. But seriously… we know what foods give us the best results, so of course- it is best to stick to them.
Protein ideas include, chicken breast, lean ground beef, white fish, salmon, tuna, pork tenderloin, flank steak, lean lunch meat (turkey breast, ham, or roast beef) and low-fat beef jerky
Carbohydrates could include a variety of oats, quinoa, couscous, brown rice, wild rice, whole-grain tortillas and bread.
Healthy fats can be found in almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil, avocados, cottage cheese and coconut oil
KNOW WHAT YOU CAN & CANT FREEZE:
Freezing meals certainly prolongs the time in which your meals stay “usable” and work just the same as any quick frozen dinner meal…only be SO much healthier. In saying that, you can freeze almost any protein source except for fish and eggs, in my opinion. Those don’t work as well frozen, so you’re better off preparing them fresh. Rice, pasta and sweet potatoes also freeze quite well, either on their own or as part of a mixed slow cooker dish.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING:
How much time you dedicate to meal preparation is totally up to you. You can choose to dedicate a whole day to this or spread it out nightly. I personally like to spend part of one day preparing my lunches, snacks and dinner sides for an entire week. That way, no matter what comes up in my week- my meals are ready to go. I rarely prep my breakfasts as I like to make fresh eggs each day. I do, however, prep my morning snacks (eg: protein pancakes) my lunches (eg: chicken, rice and steamed greens) and my pre workout meal (eg: proats). If time allows, I prepare my vegetables or various sides to accompany my freshly cooked protein portions each night for dinner. With winter on it’s way in Australia, I will be prepping soups, stews and plenty of slow cooker meals too!
The point of meal prep is to make life easier for you during the week, this doesn’t mean you have to pre cook all of your food though! For example, you can marinate your chicken breasts, weigh out your portion sizes and place them in the freezer ready to defrost when you’re going to use them. If you are like me and like your vegetables freshly cooked (for dinner only), then you can portion them out for each meal and put them in containers ready to be steamed or cooked. If you know you will be making a meal that requires a lot of chopping, you can do this in advance too. I also like to wash all fruit and portion nuts into snack bags, so that I can easily grab and go.