It’s the usual story, getting home at the end of the day and cooking the simplest meal possible, to satiate all your cravings, before flopping onto the sofa. It’s rushing out the door in the morning and grabbing a single bag of crisps to act as your sustenance for the day (or even worse, nothing at all). It can be tricky and tiring to make three good meals every day. The solution? Learn how to meal prep.
Learning how to meal prep will make your life easier, I promise you. It’ll help you save money, time and take control of your diet. I’d say I’ve been eating healthily, plant-based, and working out fairly consistently for about a year and a half. But the most drastic change I felt in my body, both inside and out, was when I started meal prepping.
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Why should you learn how to meal prep?
Kick any unhealthy habits
Say goodbye to grabbing packet foods as you walk out the door or to skipping meals completely. With your meals ready to go in advance, you need only grab them from the fridge, knowing they’re nutritious, a good portion size and will keep you full all day.
Suggested for you: How To Kick Bad Habits (And Replace Them With Good Habits!)
Stick to a healthy diet
I’m not saying your meal preps have to be Pinterest-worthy salads and Buddha bowls, nor that they have to be healthy all the time. But, by planning your meals in advance, you’ll be able to take more care ensuring that you’re getting all the right nutrients to keep you happy and healthy.
Especially as someone who eats a plant-based diet, it’s really important to make sure I’m getting a wide enough range of vitamins, fats and food groups on the regular. It’s also great to plan around what you need each day. Whether that’s eating foods around your gym routine, or making sure you get a good meal when you’re tight on time when life gets hectic.
Save money (like, soooo much money)
I hate wasting food. And as someone who uses a lot of fresh produce and cooks for one person (curse multipacks), it’s always a struggle to use up everything in the fridge before it goes off. But, when you’re planning your meals in advance, you can make sure everything gets used up and you know exactly what you need to shop for. Plus, things always last a little longer once they’re cooked.
Going shopping without any idea of what you need to purchase is a dangerous move, where your mood, your hunger and bright coloured deal labels will hijack your shopping trolley. Shopping with intention and only purchasing what you know you need makes it easier to say no to those cravings and remind them of the yummy plans you already have in mind.
No cooking! Alright, so you’ll need to dedicate a couple of hours on your chosen meal prep day, but you can say goodbye to spending every morning and evening in the kitchen. I love cooking, it’s an alternative meditation for me, something I can put my attention into and peacefully get on with. So I’m happy to spend hours working away in the kitchen, but after a long day of work, it’s so nice to not have to always come home and cook.
My favourite bit is the time it saves in the morning. Having your breakfast ready to be eaten and your lunch ready to be put in your bag removes the need to do any last-minute prep before you leave the house. I’ve spoken about it in-depth in my Morning Routine, but lessening the amount of decisions you need to make in the morning can have a massive effect on how ready you feel for your day! So, even if it seems trivial, this will reduce your stress levels in the morning.
Suggested for you: 20 Wellness Inspired Morning Habits To Improve Your Morning Routine
Make it work for you
There are absolutely no rules with meal prepping. It’s up to you what you make, when you make it and what works for you.
My personal routine is to meal prep on Sundays, for all my lunches and dinners Mon-Fri the week. Breakfasts I either make the night before or in the morning if I know I’ll have time. On the weekend I always end up with too many spontaneous plans and like I said, cooking’s a lot of fun for me when I have the time.
What do you need to get started with meal prepping?
Lots of containers. How many you’ll need depends on what you like making and how many meals you plan on preparing so try and estimate this before buying a set.
I’d definitely suggest investing in some glass containers, not only are they going to last you longer, but they’re also better for the environment and much more convenient as they’re oven-proof and dishwasher-proof. I don’t have a microwave, so being able to take my pots straight out the fridge and into the oven just saves on washing up.
Suggested for you: Eco-Friendly Kitchen Products: Green Swaps and Habits
2. Fridge or freezer space
The number of times I’ve finished prepping my meals, looked at the fridge and realised I don’t have enough space to store them is kind of ridiculous. Especially if you share your home with multiple people, you’ll feel the struggle. Rejig the fridge before you start to make sure you have enough space. Or meal prep more frequently, only preparing a couple of days worth of food at a time.
3. Regular batches of time
Meal prepping can take a little while, especially as you get used to making multiple meals at once. You can minimise the time and complexity of this by making multiple portions of the same meal and bulk cooking anything you can.
If you can’t dedicate a couple of hours at once, consider meal prepping multiple times a week, prepping fewer meals at once. Remember this is saving you time in the long run!
4. Recipes. Lots of recipes.
This one is essential. Make sure you have a wide variety of recipes, with a good variety of different foods. I often see meal prep plans that have the same style of meal repeated over and over throughout the week. This may suit some people, but for me personally, I need a good variety of food to keep me interested and to keep my belly happy.
My personal recommendation is to only make two or three portions of the same meal, so you don’t get sick of it through the week, and to try cooking foods of different styles. One easy trick is to make meals with the same base, with a variety of different sauces and toppings. Salads and rice dishes are my favourites for this.
Happy cooking! Love, Ella-Rose x