One of our biggest mantras at HQ is “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” Once you have mastered the art of meal preparation, your journey towards being the healthiest and fittest version of yourself will get THAT much easier.
Remember that meal prep doesn’t have to mean having every single meal cooked and ready to go for the whole week, it means preparing things in advance in order to make eating healthy as effortless as possible. From planning your weekly meals to portioning out your proteins/veggies ready to be assembled easily. This is one of the most essential lessons for a healthy lifestyle and will stand you in good stead going forward.
Here are 5 ways to get your meal prep done with as little fuss as possible:
1. Set aside a few hours 2 days a week for bulk prep:
Set aside time each week to do most of the “work” involved in making your meals. Cutting veg, cooking your proteins and dividing them into portions and setting aside all that you would need for the meals you planned for the next few days so it’s ready to go with as little work as possible on the day.
We recommend a food prep ritual on Sunday and Thursday evenings.
- Here is a great post by Sleekgeek’s Melissa Thomas about food prep for our 30-Day REBOOT that gives excellent pointers for preparing in bulk.
- Here are 5 healthy recipes that make meal prep really easy (yes, sweet potato brownies is a thing!)
2. PLAN your shopping (and don’t shop when you’re hungry):
There’s nothing worse than starting your meal prep only to find that you didn’t buy everything you need. Before you go shopping, do a quick inventory of your fridge/freezer and pantry and see what you need for the meals you’ve planned for the week ahead. Write it down or make a note on your phone so you don’t forget anything. Also, don’t shop when you’re hungry because it makes it way too easy to be tempted by fast/convenient junk food. Have a snack or meal before you head to the grocery store.
3. TUPPERWHERE-is-the-effing-lid (how to store tupperware without losing it):
Airtight containers and Consol jars will be your BEST friends for meal preparation but keep a close eye on them as containers and their lids are like socks that mysteriously disappear in the wash!
We have two suggestions for minimal container/lid separation:
- After washing and drying your tupperware, close them immediately. To save on storage space, store smaller containers inside larger ones. By keeping the lids together with their partners the chances of them disappearing are way less.
- Have a “lid drawer” and “file” the lids so that they are easy to find – when you put the lids into the drawer make sure you put the corresponding container into your tupperware cupboard at the same time – that way you can make sure there’s nothing missing.
When you’re doing your meal preparation, put the lids underneath the containers so you have them ready to seal as you go.
4. What’s good for freezing and what isn’t:
Having pre-made healthy meals in your freezer is a LIFESAVER for those days when you’re too busy/tired/sick to cook. This helps you avoid taking the “easy” route of unhealthy fast food and junk.
Meals that are easy to freeze (and prepare) are bulk meals like soups/stews/curries.
Foods that don’t freeze well are:
- Starchy veg (potato, sweet potato, butternut)
- Cabbage, Lettuce, Leafy Greens (if they are raw)
- Cooked eggs
When freezing your meals, make sure they are in an airtight container (you don’t want freezer burn on your food)
How long can you freeze certain items?
- Chicken or turkey pieces, uncooked: nine months
- Fruit: 6 to 12 months
- Steaks, uncooked: 6 to 12 months
- Butter: 6 to 9 months
- Lean fish: 6 months
- Roasts, uncooked: 4 to 12 months
- Chicken or turkey, cooked: 4 to 6 months
- Chops, uncooked: 4 to 6 months
- Shellfish, uncooked: 3 to 6 months
- Meat casseroles, cooked: 3 months
- Fatty fish: 2 to 3 months
- Soups and stews: 2 to 3 months
- Bacon: 1 month
If you’re unsure about whether you can freeze something – don’t be shy to pop by our Sleekgeek Support Group and ask (chances are if you have a question at least 10 others have that same question too but are too shy to ask)!
5. Oops I left my lunch at home, now what?
Life happens. Be prepared. Identify meals at your local store that you can get if all else fails – most shops have a salad section/deli where you can get cooked chicken and mixed veg or salad, it’s a better alternative than having a pie or a gatsby.
Another good strategy is to have back up non-perishables at your desk, like tinned tuna, nuts and olives – items that won’t go off that you can store in case of “emergencies”
Being prepared is VITAL on your journey to health and vitality – food prep doesn’t have to be as daunting as some people make it out to be.
Got any meal prep tips and tricks? Post them in the comments below!