I’m often asked how I stay motivated to eat healthily and stick to my goals on a regular basis. For me, I’ve found that organisation is key and setting aside a few hours once a week is vital in keeping me on track. One way that I do this is by prepping my meals ahead of time for the week ahead, “meal prep” for short, and it’s great whether I’m packing lunch for school or feeling a little peckish when I’m at home.
Personally, meal prepping is a fun way to get in the kitchen and create some new, healthy recipes that I’ve been dying to try, or a way for me to recreate delicious recipes that I love. Every Sunday I set aside around 3 hours, generally from 9am-12pm (I’m an early bird!) to cook up one or two meals for the week and chop up my fruits and veggies to use for snacks. I don’t see it as a chore; rather I see it as almost therapeutic. A couple of hours once a week is genuinely all you need, and you’ll realise it’s such a life-saver! Not to mention it’s a great way to save money for those on a budget.
Here are some of my top tips for getting started with meal prep:
Be inspired. Got Pinterest? Search up some healthy recipes and give them a shot. Got Instagram? Follow users who post images of their healthy meals to give you some ideas of things you would like to try. There are a many resources out there for you to discover healthy, amazing recipes that are super easy to create in your own kitchen. And you don’t have to be a kitchen-wizz to recreate them!
Plan your meals. Once you’ve gotten a few ideas, plan out which meals you’ll make for the week. Decide what you’re going to make and write down a list of the ingredients you need for when you go shopping. I often pick one meal that I’m going to make for the week for school lunches and separate that into individual containers. One meal often gives you about 3-4 servings, so that covers you for almost a week!
Your freezer is your friend. When it comes to pre-cooking lunches, take advantage of your freezer space. A lot of the meals you make can be kept in the freezer for up to 3-6 months depending on what you’re freezing. I’ve found this to be really helpful especially during the weeks where I haven’t had as much time to meal prep. It feels great to be able to just pull something out of the freezer, and voila, you’ve got a pre-made lunch all ready for you.
Use your leftovers and keep those off-cuts! Whenever there are leftovers from dinner the night before, I often pop it into a container and take this for lunch the following day. This is an excellent way to use leftovers and not let them go to waste. Additionally, when I chop up my veggies and have off-cuts and bits that I don’t use, I’ll save them and use them in another meal to ensure I’m not being wasteful. Another awesome tip is to use those off-cuts and little bits and pieces to make a veggie soup (thanks, mum)!
Keep it simple. Stuck on ideas for what to do for snacks? Try simply chopping up some veggies and fruits to grab on-the-go when your stomach starts to rumble. This is a fantastic way to save time throughout the week, and it’ll help you to grab healthy options instead of succumbing to those packet of chips. I really love to have chopped up fresh capsicum (bell peppers), carrots and cucumber on hand for when I’m feeling peckish, but you can use any other veggie that you love! I often make some home-made hummus as a dip. Also, the great thing about fruit is that a lot of it is already “grab-and-go”, which is great for snacking. If you’re like me and prefer having your fruit chopped up, think about spending a little extra time to prepare it ahead of time.
Have fun! Turn up the music, listen to your favourite podcasts, or even meal prep with a friend! Cook foods that you like and be adventurous. Making meal prep an enjoyable experience will make you look forward to it each week and not see it as a chore.