Meal Preparation: Tips & tricks to get you started
Do you have a pretty hectic schedule? Do you start your day early and finish it late? Meal prep might be just the thing for you! It helps to keep your diet in tact and it can even give you those extra five minutes of sleep we sometimes desperately need!! Personally, I train a lot and try and look after myself as best as I can, and nutrition is a huge part of this. At home we don’t prepare all of our meals in advance, however when we know we have busy days coming up or early starts we try and make sure that we have our meals prepped so that we don’t have to worry about food.
WHAT EXACTLY IS MEAL PREP?
Simply put it is preparing meals in advance. It involves planning out, shopping for and preparing ingredients or your entire meals ahead of time. This of course will vary depending on how busy your upcoming week is. If I find the time I like to try and set aside two days a week to do my meal prep. It does involve some work and effort, but I can assure you that it is worth it.
HERE ARE SOME POINTERS TO GET YOU STARTED:
What are your next few days like? Will you have time to prepare your food on the day or will preparing it in advance save you some time?
How many meals/ snacks do you need each day? Take into consideration whether you are training or taking a rest day.
Figure out how many servings you will need per meal, will you be cooking for just yourself or for other family members/ friends as well.
Now the fun begins! It is time to convert those meals and portions into actual recipes. Start by finding some of your favourite recipes, then write down or print these out. Moleskine makes a recipe book that is completely blank, and I like to use this to write down all of my recipes.
Try and focus on a core group of ingredients. This speeds up the meal prep and planning. Add variety with different spices and flavourings and test out a new core group each week.
Try to avoid any complicated recipes, I like to use meal-prep formulas instead of recipes. It makes things so simple and allows me to get pretty creative!
Make a list of all the ingredients needed and write your grocery list.
Find some good containers – this is a vital element of food prep! I like to use a combination of mason jars and airtight containers. The last thing you want is a leakage in your bag!
Now you are ready to start with the actual food prep! There are a number of different ways to actually prep your meals. There are some recipes that you can make right away and pack away in the fridge, while others you may want to simply do all the necessary prep (chopping, measuring, arranging) so that everything is ready for you to make the meal and eat it hot. Once you get into the routine of preparing your meals for the week it is a reliable and certain way to accelerate fat loss results, and to ensure you stick to your diet. Nutrition is the base of good health and is fundamental for sport performance. Meal prepping is the best way to guarantee the best results.
Now for the fun part, some of our favourite meal prep recipes:
· Over Night Oats These are an absolute life saver particularly when we have early starts! I love to add goji berries as they seem to really expand when you let them soak and they are delicious!
· Paleo Banana Bread This is definitely one of our favourite recipes, we constantly keep some bananas in the cupboard waiting for them to go brown. If you are in a rush in the morning a slice of this with some peanut butter is a great way to start the day!
For lunch or dinner, we have a few formulas:
Grain bowl: this tends to be either quinoa or freekeh. I like to make a big batch so that we can use it up over a few meals. For meal prep purposes these are a couple of my favourite grain bowls:
· Grilled Chicken with sautéed peppers and courgettes on quinoa with pistachios. This is a great option, the sautéed vegetables can stay for a couple of days, and any leftovers usually end up in salads which is also delicious! I love to add the pistachios to add a healthy dose of fat and a crunch!
· Freekeh with tahini, chickpeas and pomegranate. This is great on its own or for some extra protein add some feta.
Beans and Pulses also make a great base:
· Cannellini beans with tuna, sundried tomatoes, black olives and dill. This is simple, fast and delicious!
· Mediterranean lentil salad. Again, this is great on its own, or for extra protein add some fresh white cheese. I also like to throw in some walnuts.
A frittata is also a good option and will keep for a couple of days. We will often make a frittata for dinner and eat the other half for lunch the following day. The best thing about frittatas is that you can throw in anything you want! Our favourite combination is roasted sweet potato cubes, sundried tomatoes, feta and lots of fresh herbs!
Ps. If you live with someone like Emilio, food prep can be difficult. He has a tendency to just eat everything I prepare before it even manages to make it into the boxes laid out for food prep!! (4 chicken breasts somehow disappeared at dinner last night!)
Food prep does not have to be complicated or stressful! The whole point is to make your life easier, so don’t let it do the opposite! Some final tips:
o Start in your kitchen: use up what you already have in the fridge, freezer and pantry to inspire your weekly meals before heading out to the shop! You'll save money, waste less food, and have a shorter shopping trip.
o Prep products: Vegetables are fantastic, the problem is, they can be time-consuming to prepare, which is why if I have spare time I will use it to clean, chop, and prep a variety of veggies, so they're easy to add to meals throughout the busy workweek.
o Make big batches: healthy starches like quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes are easy to cook and will last up to five days in the fridge. Make a bigger batch and use them for multiple meals! It makes things a lot easier even if you haven’t had time to prep anything else, when you get home and find some quinoa or freekeh and you just throw some stuff on top of it!
Do you prep your food? What are your favourite recipes? Share them with us here! Bon appetit!