So.. if you’ve been following me for a bit, you will know that I am a big fan of meal prep!
And.. I could be accused of thinking that meal prep is the answer to most things (..lack of time.. bad diet.. low energy… etc.) which I suppose could be partly true in some cases.
I think it’s great and I do it quite a lot, so instead of just harping on about it, I’ve decided to bring you 7 practical tips to help you get started with meal prepping:
1. Plan (in 2 week blocks)
Obviously with meal prep planning is important. However I think that rather than just doing a weekly plan it can be a good idea to sit down once a fortnight and decide on your meals.
The reason for this is, just say you cook a meal that serves four on a Sunday evening.. rather than having it Mon-Thurs* you could have it Monday and Wednesday of one week and then Tuesday and Thursday of the following week. And then you could cook another four portion meal for the other days.
Planning this way gets you into the habit of always thinking “how could I make this meal stretch to another day?” which will then help you to cut down on the amount of prepping you have to do.
(*more on why that’s not the best option in tip 3)
2. Set aside time
This goes without saying. You need to set aside time to plan, to shop for groceries, and then to cook. This probably sounds like a pain in the hole but the more time you put in initially, the better the return (yummy food, plus midweek time not spent cooking or queuing in a shop on your lunch break).
At the start it can be a good idea to pick one afternoon a week and get all your cooking done then, but as you get more comfortable you can do bits throughout the week when you have free time.
Also, if you’re unlucky enough to hate cooking I have an additional tip that can help you want to spend more time in the kitchen.
That is.. to keep yourself entertained in the kitchen with something you would normally in the evening time to unwind. Maybe watch an episode of something on Netflix, stick on a movie, pop in your headphones and listen to a podcast etc.! Something that’s enjoyable and will keep you entertained and happy to be in the kitchen, and I promise you that the time will fly.
3. Don’t eat the same thing every day!
Eating the same thing every day, especially midweek, can be handy if you have specific fitness or weight loss goals or maybe you’re following a special diet etc. But in general, eating the same thing every day is boring as hell!
If I am ever unfortunate enough to be caught with the same lunch for a week it always goes a little something like this:
- Monday: “This is yummy! I could eat it every day”
- Tuesday: “Yum! This is so tasty”
- Wednesday: “….this is grand”
- Thursday: “…ugh not this again”
- Friday: “Nah.. I’m going to the shop”
I inevitably end up wasting one of the meals, so that’s where the planning ahead and planning in two week blocks comes in very handy. Just try to mix it up and vary the meals to at least every second day.
It’ll make you much more inclined to eat the food you’ve pre-prepared.
4. Invest in a freezer (if possible)
Ok, so I’m not saying that you have to go out and buy a freezer but if you live in a place that only has a crappy icebox freezer, it might be worth considering getting yourself a decent chest freezer.
You’d be looking at an investment of about €100-€200 but it would make your life a whole lot easier and would lend itself to two week planning.
5. Buy a big pot
..Another suggested investment would be to get a big pot!
This is really great for batch cooking one-pot meals, doubling recipes and making ALL the soup. Essentially it will help you whip up 8-10 meals in one go.
6. Get suitable containers
This is ONCE again.. a suggested investment. However this can be the cheapest of the lot.
You can either go out and buy some Tupperware boxes, or if you are a fan of takeaways (or know someone who is) keep the takeaway box and use those instead.
I mainly use takeaway boxes because they’re great for portioning out meals and they fit nicely in the fridge and in my lunch bag. They do tend to break eventually from repeated heating and freezing but you will get a good while out of them before that happens.
7. Label & keep a record
And my final tip is to label the boxes before you put them in the freezer. Frozen food can look fairly similar, and I have been caught out before with what I thought was soup…… which turned out to be a bolognese sauce.
It’s also good to be able to see what you have in there for planning and remember to pop the dates on them so you know what you should be eating first.
Also if you can, keep a list of what’s in the freezer and how many portions in a notebook or in the notes on your phone so you don’t have to go digging every time.
And that’s it! Please let me know your meal prep tips or questions in the comments below. I will be doing a “Day of Meal Prepping” post and video soon where I will show you some good meal prep friendly recipes to keep you full all week.
And this post if episode 6 of my #shiftwork series. If you’re curious about the other tips and posts, please see below: