Published: 17 August 2020
A Beginner's Guide to Meal Prep
Meal prepping is all about cooking and portioning your meals ahead of time, so you have a few days to a week worth of food that is ready to ‘grab and go’. Not only does this free up time after work for other activities, it can also help you keep control of your food budget, make healthier food choices, and reduce waste. Meal prep has been a hot trend among fitness fans for a while, but we think a little meal prep could benefit everyone!
The key things to know:
Meal prep, at least in the sense we are talking about, can be hard to do with a bigger family. It is great for work lunches, pre or post gym dinners and giving yourself or another a break after a long day of work. Generally, in meal prep people tend to make one big meal and then eat that over a few days, so if you like a lot of variety, this may not be you either.
It is also key you have some good containers, as these will help keep your food fresher for longer. The best to aim for would be glass containers, but plastic and even reusable Ziploc bags can work too. We will post some links at the bottom if you are interested in upgrading your container game.
What foods work best for meal prepping?
- cooked grains & pasta (oats, quinoa, barley, buckwheat)
- cooked pulses (chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas)
- cooked meat (cuts of chicken, beef, turkey)
- lean protein (eggs, Greek yogurt, tofu, fish)
- roasted vegetables (parsnip, sweet potato, pumpkin)
- fresh vegetables (celery, carrots, peas, bell peppers, kale, cabbage, radishes, etc.)
- whole fruit (apples, oranges – resist slicing these in advance)
- nuts & seeds (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia, flax)
Are there any foods to avoid?
- fried food
- cheese crackers and biscuits
- softer fruits and vegetables (e.g lettuce, cut fruit)
How long will my meals last?
This really varies depending on the food prepared – for instance, cheese lasts a while, but chopped vegetables may only have a few days of freshness. This is why some people only prepare meals for a few days, say 3 or 4. We recommend looking at the Food Standards Agency https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/best-before-and-use-by-dates and consulting the food’s packaging guidelines to determine how long your food can be safe for.
Don’t forget you can always freeze some meals, just remember to defrost them correctly and in time, and that you eat your defrosted meal within 24 hours of it defrosting.
How to start meal prepping:
It is important to start small and build up. Try not to pressure yourself to perfect Instagram-worthy meals straight away. Instead, concreate on getting all your needed protein, grain, and vegetables all in one recipe to begin with.
Then, look at these three things:
- Which meal would you like to prepare for — breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
- Which day is best to meal prep on? Sunday and Wednesday are common choices for getting through a week, but choose a day you have time on.
- How many days do you want to prep for? We recommend 3-4, but if you freeze some meals you can expand this to a week.
For optimum health benefits, remember to aim for 50% vegetables in any meal.
Some of our favourite meal prep recipes:
Published: 17 August 2020