Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.
Have you ever felt that the meal you just bought didn’t really fill you up or didn’t go down very well with your stomach? Have you wondered why you spend so much money on food and yet still struggle to choose something that is healthy, filling and satisfying for your taste buds?
If yes then may be you should consider trying meal prep. As the name suggests meal prep refers to making all or some of your meals in advance, be it just for the next day or two or the entire week. It works really well for those who are busy (who isn’t?) throughout the week and yet want to have more control and satisfaction from the foods that they eat.
Get creative with healthy eating
I have been meal preping for a few years now and it came as a natural evolution from weekly grocery planning. That and the fact that my digestive issues at the time meant I had to be very careful with what I put in my sensitive stomach.
What initially seemed like a chore ended up saving me so much time and money in the long run! I knew exactly what I was eating (and that it wasn’t going to upset my stomach) and I knew exactly how my food was prepared (free of unhealthy ingredients and toxic additives). And, trust me, nothing feels better than coming home after a long day knowing that there is a tasty (and guilt-free!) meal waiting for you.
Preping meals also encourages you to experiment with cooking and discover healthy ways to make your favourite unhealthy treats! Meal prep doesn’t have to be bland or boring. In fact, it was only when I started meal preping that I expanded my cooking repertoire as I wasn’t in a situation where I had to put together something quickly because I was too tired or too hungry.
Save time & energy
I spend about an hour or two during the weekend preping all my ingredients and meals for the next two days. I then spend no more than 10 minutes each evening making a fresh salad for dinner and, every couple of days, no more than 30 minutes preping meals for the next two days.
Now, I hear you say, but I want my food freshly made. Fear not, meal prep does not have to mean you are stuck with frozen meals. You can either do it more than once a week (like me) or prepare only part of a meal in advance. For example, you can freeze pasta sauce, yet make some fresh pasta on the day of your meal. Alternatively, you can marinate your chicken, freeze it and cook it on the day.
So you are not only preparing tasty food suitable tailored to your personal likes, but you are also getting a much more nutritious meal at a much lower price than buying it elsewhere (that 50 dirham salad would probably cost you half if you made it at home and contain half the unhealthy fats hidden in salad sauces).
Making a weekly meal plan means you can be quick and efficient with your grocery shopping and can benefit from ‘economies of scale’ (i.e. buying in larger quantities, instead of individual portions, and paying less per meal).
It also means you won’t be caught off-guard by a sudden change in schedule or tempted to spend (and eat!) more than you have to at each meal. This is great for anyone trying to clean out their diet as you never know the quality and quantity of ingredients used in store/restaurant bought foods (e.g. hidden fats and sugars).
So three key benefits here:
- Meal preping saves time
- Planning your meals in advance saves money
- It also helps you eat healthier
Let’s get started!
Convinced? Now let’s go through the key steps of meal prep:
- Start making weekly grocery shopping lists (if you haven’t already) and meal plans
- Invest in good quality containers as you will be using them a lot!
- Avoid keeping foods in tins, aluminium foil or wrap plastic – opt for glass containers (or jars) for your fridge and BPA free plastic containers to carry out and about (or to use for home freezing)
- Get some measuring tools – this will help you split out your meals evenly throughout the weel
- Pick a day / time to dedicate to meal prep and try to stick to them on a weekly basis (typically 1 weekend day and 1 mid-week day)
- Last, but not least, remember to choose foods you like and find out which way you like them cooked (roasted, stewed, stir-fried)