Do you dread the idea of meal prep? A lot of people do despite knowing how beneficial it is to stay on track with healthy, clean eating. If preparing quick healthy meals just seems too hard basket while juggling duties as Mummy CEO, I encourage you to have a read of this. These super simple tips, and with a little planning ahead, I promise you’ll rethink meal prep altogether and be blown away by how easy it can really be!
8 Of The Best Meal Prep Tips From A Food Coach
Alina Petre, a registered dietitian, says there are various ways to meal prep — not all of which involve spending a whole Sunday afternoon cooking dishes for the week to come.
"Meal prepping is the concept of preparing whole meals or dishes ahead of schedule. It's particularly popular amongst busy people because it can save a lot of time. Having pre-prepared meals on hand can also reduce portion size and help you reach your nutrition goals."
And I wholeheartedly agree. When I get my clients to start meal prepping, we always start off simply. The perks far out weight a few extra minute here and there to prepare your meals for the coming week (s). Here's how you can get started...
1. Get In The Habit Of Thinking Ahead
At some point you will be over the stove making spaghetti bolognese, stir fry or baking for this kids. Why not do a double batch? This is by far the easiest way to ease into meal prep. Cook double the amount of brown rice or quinoa you need for Asian stir fry. Triple the pasta and make enough to free for next week or beyond. You are investing the time in stirring the pot anyway; getting into the meal prep habit is excellent time management when you double or triple recipes.
REUSABLE CONTAINERS: I love these stackable containers with 3 sections for mains, dressings and keeping sauces and things separate. Each container is perfectly proportioned to help you stick to a balanced diet plan.
When you plan ahead like this, cooking double the amount, you end up saving money and time. Look for specials and buy the ingredients in bulk so you make a few meals from one base recipe.
2. Make Pre-made Smoothies
Do you Pin? I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to smoothie making hacks and pre-made smoothie freezer bags top the list. A smoothie is how I usually start my day and kick start healthy eating with a hearty dose of phytonutrients, fibre and superfoods. It's easy peasy work on those crazy busy mornings when my Aspie son is fussing, and my hyperactive miss is doing loops of the lounge room, to just grab a freezer bag and drop the ingredients into a high-powered blender, blitz and go. Done. Click here for inspirations and clever how-to's.
3. Keep It Cool, Lovely
A big part of meal prep is keeping your delicious homemade meals cool and fresh. I highly suggest you invest in a good insulated lunch bag and gel cooler packs to take with you to work, on the go or in your travels like this one.
You can find fun, affordable functional designs at Kmart or the dollar store for under $10 or invest in a more 'adult' looking bag like this pretty feminine one (pictured) or a floral designer look like this, and this one. I can't choose, gimme gimme. I want them all!
4. The Secret Is To Batch Cook
I touched on this above, and this definitely something the participants of my Take back Your Health program learn all about. Many people resist making the time for meal planning, but once they give it a go and stuck with it consistently, it makes everything so much easier and less stressful. And you'll find you save money too!
Do you ever dread the days that you have no idea what is for dinner? Usually it leads to less-than-ideal food choices like whatever if convenient or takeaway. Preparing meals at home might seem like it takes more time initially, but when you double or triple the recipe, you can cook once and then eat 2 or 3 times during the week without a worry. From freezer to table in mere minutes, and very little mess to clean up.
Batch cooking your meals and little planning ahead totally alleviates the problem of what's for dinner. You can bake savory muffins or chicken while roasting your veggies at the same time. Stir a big pot of pasta while whisking chia pudding for desserts and breakfast parfaits. Once you start, you'll find you get things done much faster. And if you need someone doing all the meal planning for you… work with me to achieve your health goals through a 4 week completely done-for-you meal plan.
5. Learn To Love Mason Jars
I absolutely love glass mason jars! First of all, they look super stylish as a serving pot---I know, I love pretty things---but they are also very practical. Mason jars are typically used for jams, preserves and such, but they are cheap, most are microwave safe and perfect for storing overnight oats, chia pudding, smoothies and superfood salads. I get mine from Kmart for mere pennies (but long term, they don't seem to be as durable as ones you'll find at the kitchen shops, so shop around).
If I am doing up a big cook up akak batch cooking, I'll use little these reusable chalk label stickers I found to label my mason jars and other meal prep containers. All I do is jot down the jar's contents with the chalk pen, peel the labels off the backing and press onto the surface. Super easy peasy, and they look stylish too!
Wanna know how to assemble the perfect mason salad jar? Its super easy. Just add your oil and vinegar dressing or the wettest ingredients to the bottom. Then build to the top with the hard, crunch items next and layering up to the more delicate ingredients. Always add your lettuce or green leaves at the top so they don't become soggy overnight. Chill in the fridge overnight and grab as you go the next day!
MASON JAR RECIPES: find all kinds of fresh and delicious mason jar recipes here.
Another reason I love mason jars so much is because you can easily see what’s inside. This is fabulous for presentation when you make up salad jars or breakfast parfaits for friends or family. Glass is also safer. It can be used in microwaves, won’t alter the taste of food if it is stored in there for a few days. Unlike plastic containers, glass containers won’t release any chemicals when heated to hot temperature like plastic. Clean up and sterilisation is also a cinch in the dishwasher!
RELATED: Download my free Fitness & Meal Planning printable set to bulletproof your meal planning and weight loss efforts.
6. Don’t Meal Prep Too Many Meals At Once
Once you start, it can be hard to stop. I kid you not. I recommend you only meal prep 3-5 days worth of fresh food, if stored in the fridge. Many meals once prepared, won’t last more than 3 days in the fridge, so make sure you freeze the rest. Things like pasta bakes, simmer sauce meals freeze really well, so keep one or two out for the next few days and freeze the rest immediately.
When you need something, I recommend that you take your frozen meals from the freezer the night before you are plan to eat it and let it defrost in the fridge. This avoids any food safe issues. Just reheat at dinner time. Too easy. And if you need someone doing all the thinking for you… work with me to achieve your health goals through a 4 week completely done-for-you meal plan.
7. Yeah, But What's The Goal?
Like anything else, you have to keep your eye on the prize. What's your goal for meal prep? Is it to just feed the family healthier meals or are you trying to lose weight, combat illness or quit sugary foods? If your goal is not something very important to you, it's all too easy to start strong and lose interest. Hold the end goal of calmer, happier kids, a slimmer waistline or improved health when you are planning how to fit meal prepping into your lifestyle.
Is your goal short term or long term? It will take time to detox the family from sugar and shift their taste buds to healthier options. Usually 14 days more depending on the dependence. It may take you a month or several to lose the muffin top from poor eating and lack of exercise.
8. My Top Choice For Healthy Meal Prep Recipes
Lastly, here you can find my favorite quick and easy meal prep recipes! All these meal prep recipes are super quick and are perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Super Healthy Breakfast
Try these super easy and fast recipe ideas for quick breakfasts.
Egg Muffins or Quiche
Lettuce Breakfast Wraps
Eggs (any which way) Avo & Greens
Try these super easy and fast recipe ideas for quick lunches.
Superfood Salad Wraps
Rice/Corn Cakes & Smashed Avo
Rice/Corn Cakes & Smashed Berries + Nut Butter
Healthy Leftovers + Side Salad
Try these super easy and fast recipe ideas for quick breakfasts.
Healthy Wholefood Snacks
Snacking can make the difference between binging on unhealthy foods and managing your blood sugar. Choose snacks that are small portions, wholefoods and protein based for the best results.
Raw Cacao & Avocado Pudding
Celery Sticks & Hummus
Carrot Sticks & Beetroot Hummus
Cucumber "Biscuits" & Dip
10 Almonds & 1/2 Green Apple
Apple Rings & Nut Butter
2 Pieces Cheese & Pear Slices
10 Walnuts & 1/3 cup Blueberries
1/4 cup Cottage Cheese & Handful of Blueberries
Meal prepping can save your life, especially if you have a very busy schedule but you still want to eat healthy food.
Just try it for a week and you will see a big change in your health and in your wallet!
What are your favorite healthy meals to prep? Share them in the comments below!