Despite our best intentions, sometimes we’re just too damn lazy to get busy in the kitchen. When we’ve had a long, stressful day at work and had a frustratingly long commute home, it’s too tempting to fire up Just Eat and have someone else do the cooking. What we need is healthy food, ready to go so that we don’t even have to think about it. Enter: meal prepping.
Preparing your meals for the week in one go is a great way of helping you reach your weight loss goals. The benefits of doing so are pretty obvious – if you’ve got your food ready and waiting for you, it’s much less likely that you’ll opt to eat something unhealthy because you’re too tired to make something. Here are some easy ways to make meal prep work for you…
You don’t have to go all out
Meal prepping is not just for Instagram foodies who line up seemingly endless rows of plastic boxes for a good photo-op: you can prep as much or as little as you like. Struggle to get up in the morning? Prep some breakfasts in advance. Keep finding yourself staring at Boots meal deal options on your lunch break? Prep some lunches you can grab on your way out of the door in the morning. Got a busy week coming up? Prep everything! It’s all about making your life easier.
Make stuff you’ll actually eat
It’s all well and good making a week’s worth of meals in one go but there’s no point if it gets to Thursday dinner time and you don’t want to eat what you’ve made, no matter how good your intentions were earlier on in the week. Not really into trendy health foods? Then don’t make a massive vat of quinoa that you’ll never want to have. You can still make exciting meals in advance – want to have burgers one night? Prepare the patties ahead of time, store in the fridge and whack them on the grill for a few minutes when you need them.
You don’t have to meal prep everything
If you’re thinking that a week of meals prepared in advance means a week of eating cold food straight from plastic tubs, it’s worth bearing in mind that it doesn’t have to be like that. Instead, just lighten the load by getting things ready for the week. You could chop a load of salad ingredients so you can make a quick salad for lunch, grill some chicken breasts and whip up a tomato sauce so you can have a complete meal in the time it takes to cook some pasta. These little things will be a major help when you come home from work and are tempted to call up your old friend Papa John.
Make your ingredients multitask
When you’re shopping for ingredients for the week, stock up on kitchen staples that can work overtime. For example, there are loads of things you can do with a pack of mince: bolognese, chilli, lasagne – they’re all more or less the same, but different enough to not feel like you’re eating the same thing every day. You’ll soon master the art of making all three at once.
Plan out your meal prep session first
We know it’s way more fun to wander around Asda throwing anything that looks tasty in your trolley but that doesn’t really work when you want to lose weight. You need to sit down and figure out exactly what you’re going to eat during the week and then make a shopping list based on that to make sure you’ve got everything you need. This is the best way of making sure your meal prepping is simple, effective and as easy to do as possible. As our English teacher used to say, fail to prepare and prepare to fail.
Get some good storage
If you’re going to be storing food in tubs, it’ll make your life a lot easier if they’re decent. We’re well aware that getting excited about good quality tupperware is a sign of impending middle-age, but you don’t want to be worrying about them leaking, especially if you’re taking your food to work. These food containers, which are BPA-free, come highly recommended and they’re handily split into compartments to keep food separate until you’re ready to mix them.
Save time with gadgets
It’s probably not the best idea to splash the cash on shiny new kitchen gadgets if you know you’re probably only going to use them once before resigning them to the back of the cupboard like every other must-have gadget (popcorn maker, anyone?) but if you’re committed to meal prepping you could really save some time with a kitchen buddy – a food processor will cut down on tedious chopping and grating time and one of those dinky little personal blenders will make breakfast smoothies a breeze (speaking of – keep your eyes peeled for a competition to win one on the blog next week).
Cut down on food waste
If you’re going to be cooking from scratch, make the most of your freezer by buying pre-chopped frozen veggies to cut down on prep time (and tears, if you’re using frozen onions) and waste, as you’ll only use what you need from the bag before putting it back. Liberate your fridge’s veggie drawer from sad, wilted spinach and what you think was once a courgette and fill the freezer – chopped onions, peppers, courgette and broccoli are all excellent cooked from frozen, and now you can even buy frozen avocado halves from Tesco (for £3! Bargain) and Iceland, which are perfect for defrosting and mashing on a bagel or toast for a quick breakfast.
Make one day a meal prep day
Meal prepping can seem like a daunting task if you’re trying to do it for the entire week, but really it’s not too bad if you get it over and done with in one day. We suggest you do it all on a Sunday so that you’re ready for the week ahead. Set yourself up in the kitchen with some good music, a fully stocked up fridge and your meal plan and get to work. Top tip: if you wash up as you go along it’ll make looking at the kitchen at the end of the day a little less soul-destroying.
Are you a fan of meal prepping? Got any tips you’d like to share? Let us know over on the forum.