Meal Prep 101: How To Coast Through A Week With Healthy Lunches
If you’ve ever thought about trying to be healthy or just want to stop blowing cash on Woolies pre-packed lunches and $14 salads from your local cafe, then you’ll be happy to hear about the wonders of meal prepping.
You don’t need to be a #fitchick of Instagram to have your meals balanced and delicious every day of the week. All you need are a few essentials: some smarts – and some excellent Tupperware.
#1 Tupperware love
Get ready to make Tupperware your lover, supporter and best friend. Your whole life will change when you start to meal prep: you will become obsessed with new containers and your fridge will never look so organised. Investing in good quality BPA-free containers is your best bet, and while we’d like to say we wouldn’t judge you if you decide to buy the 12 pack of cheap plastic containers for $8 instead – we now know too much not to care: single use plastics are heinous for the environment and harmful to our health.
Paying that little bit more for reusable containers always works out better in the long run, and if you can afford glass, even better.
#2 Get your plan on
It’s easier said than done, but the few minutes it takes to write out a grocery list and what you want to eat will save the unnecessary headache of being on the back foot for the whole week ahead – and save you a bunch of money.
Set out your grocery list into sections, starting with your regular weekly items (i.e. the items you have every week like milk, eggs, protein etc). Break down your shopping list by looking at what you want to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and then turn these meals into a list of ingredients.
Try to buy in bulk so that you can use one item in many meals, for example, use spinach in your morning smoothie, for brunch with scrambled eggs and in your salads.
You’ll also want to decide on the best day to do the actual cooking and prepping and do your grocery shop as close to this time as you can; for many of us it’s Sunday, but this can differ depending on your schedule.
#3 Prep your kitchen area
Like Jamie Oliver says at the beginning of his myriad cooking shows, you have to prep your kitchen, too. Get the ‘good’ knife ready with two chopping boards; pre-heat the oven; get a pan or two on heat; and boil the kettle. Doing simple things like this will allow you to have many elements of your meals going at once.
#4 Figure out how much you want to prep
The time it takes to cook all your meals depends on what you’re cooking for, so ask yourself whether you’re just cooking lunches for work, preparing snacks for the whole week or if you want to do a full prep for three meals a day for seven days.
Most people won’t jump straight into a diet schedule to rival Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson, so having lunches and snacks for the working week sorted is likely all you’re after. In this case, all you need to do is set aside about two hours of your Sunday to chopping, boiling, frying and stacking.
#5 Activate cooking sequence
You’re ready to meal prep, but what to actually make? If you’re trying to be wary of what you’re eating, try and follow some basic road rules: aim to include dark green veggies and leaves; lean proteins; good fats (think olive oil, avocados, nuts, fish); and the right kinds of carbs (in other words, whole or complex carbs. Here’s some examples).
When it comes to salads you have a couple of options: pre-pack and eat earlier in the week or make fresh mid-week. Just remember to pack your dressing separately, and dress your salad when you want to eat it – lest be left with a bunch of sad, soggy salad leaves.
You’ve probably also jumped on the quinoa, barley and/or faro bandwagon, and these are great to pre-cook at the start of the week in a big batch. They work well to bulk up your salads and mix with veggies for your lunches.
If you don’t trust yourself or your colleagues when three-thirty-itis kicks in be sure to chop up some veggies sticks to enjoy with a homemade hummus, make your own bliss balls, or try out some of these ‘desktop snacks’.