In this article by nutritionist James, he offers some of his best ninja tips for meal prepping
Can I let you in on a not-so-secret secret?
Almost everyone struggles with sticking to a healthy diet from time to time. Yes, even me. Even Joe Wicks. In fact, if any health professional tells you they don’t, they’re lying.
So, this month let’s talk about how we can make eating the foods that serve us well a little easier.
The thing is, what you eat matters a lot… How you eat can:
- Help you live longer
- Boost your immunity
- Help you reach & maintain a healthy weight
- Support your muscles and bones
- Keep your skin, teeth, and eyes healthy
- Lower your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
- Help your digestive system do its job
- Support healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding
- Not to mention give you more energy, cut down on aches and pains, help you sleep better, and improve your workout performance and recovery.
Here’s an easy tip to get started:
Every time you make dinner, make extra! This way you have leftovers ready and waiting for you for lunch or tomorrow night’s dinner. So instead of cooking up a 500g of turkey or tofu for tonight’s tacos, double it. Yes, it really can be that simple — and that is why it works so well.
Having said that, I know that a lot of people don’t meal prep because they simply don’t like eating leftovers. I get that. But you can still get all of the time-saving and stress-busting benefits of meal prepping WITHOUT having to eat last night’s dinner!
Just cook/prepare some of the following in advance:
- Your Elevated Food For Life Brilliant Bases if you’re a subscriber. These form the basis of so many of our dishes and allow you to avoid the lasagna-for-a-week trap
- Carbs like whole grains, rice, quinoa, etc.
- Pre-chop your veggies
Then, just before it’s time to eat, just assemble the meal from your prepped ingredients – a little like we have done in our February 2023 fast and furious February month.
- You could poach chicken breasts, brown turkey or tofu, or roast a chicken.
- Bake some sweet potatoes, steam some rice, or prep some quinoa.
- Chop onions, dice carrots, or slice peppers.
Having everything prepped and on standby makes throwing together a balanced meal fast and easy.
Meal prep and money saving tips
You know that feeling when you have a project hanging over your head and you just can’t get it started… But once you get it going, you wonder why you dreaded it so much? Meal prepping can feel that exact same way!
The thing is, once you get started, it can save you SO much time, money, and stress. With that in mind, I’ve put together a quick list of meal prep time and money savers for you.
6 Meal Prep Time and Money Saving Tips:
- Keep it simple. Don’t expect to become a meal prep pro overnight.
Pick ONE meal that gives you the most stress – like lunch – and start making those meals ahead of time. Once you get into a routine with lunch, you can branch out into other meals.
- Double up on your meals. I’ve mentioned this one earlier but that’s because it’s so easy. Just make extra when you cook dinner! It can easily turn into tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.
- Have a game plan. If you are planning to cook a few different dishes at the same time, read all of the recipes through, create a plan, and do as much chopping/rinsing/pre-prep ahead of time as possible. This will help keep you organised, allow you to clean up as you go (a huge time-saver), AND chances are… you’ll actually enjoy making your meal!
- Cook up bigger batches of protein-rich foods. This saves time and money. Think about it: it takes just as long to cook up 1kg worth of turkey burgers as it does 50g and buying in bulk usually results in a lower cost.
- Use your rice cooker and/or slow cooker. Both are inexpensive “set it and forget it” cookers that will save time and effort – and they both make delicious food!
- Make it fun. Listen to your favourite music or podcast, or download an audiobook to keep you company while you get busy in the kitchen.
Containers for meal prep
You know those social media “meal-prep” pics of food containers that are stacked up all perfectly in people’s refrigerators? They’re not as great as you think. Yes, they might look great (or “oddly satisfying,” as they say on social media) … but those plastic containers can actually do more harm than good.
Unfortunately, plastic storage can cause unwanted chemicals to seep into your food, which pretty much defeats the purpose of healthy eating!
To help you get the MOST health benefits out of your meal prep, I’m going to break down the dos and don’ts so you don’t unknowingly sabotage all your efforts.
TIP 1. Never reuse plastic water bottles or other plastic containers that food comes in (like yogurt containers). These might save you money, but they often contain harmful plastics. Instead, put them straight into the recycling bin!
TIP 2. Plastic containers that have the recycling codes 1, 2, 4, and 5 on the bottom are generally considered safe as, long as they are in good shape. Plus, they’re cheap, unbreakable, and light (a big issue if you’re taking them to and from work). One thing to remember? Heating these containers shortens their lifespan, so the moment they start to show signs of wear (with cracks, scratches, or discoloration), send them out for recycling. (IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: many researchers are now questioning whether even plastics labeled “BPA-free” are safe, and they are studying the long-term health effects!)
TIP 3. Think about making the switch to glass containers. With glass, you don’t have to worry about plastic residue. Plus it can safely go into the freezer and microwave.And because glass containers last forever, in the long run, you will save £££.
TIP 4. A compromise! If you bring your prepped meals to work and want a lighter/less breakable option, store your food in plastic and when it’s time to heat it, transfer it into a glass container for heating. That way you get the best of both worlds.
Hopefully, all the above tips will make your next meal prep session a breeze rather than a chore.
Got some meal prep tips? Let us know and we’ll include them on a future article.