I’ve been meal prepping about 40% of my meals for about 2 full years now. I find it much more time and cost efficient and honestly a lifesaver when it comes to the decision on “to get takeaway or not to?”. It eliminates the risk of a not-so-good choice.
Step 1. Sit down before you go grocery shopping and check out what you have in the pantry already. Look up recipes if necessary, to incorporate some of those items. Nobody likes to waste food, and we do far too much of it. Once you’ve done that, make a meal plan for the week. Write your shopping list. Make sure you have containers to store your prepared food, add them to the list if you need to.
On another note, it might be a good idea to do a pantry and fridge clean out. Chuck out anything past its’ expiry date. Reorganise based on what you use the most. If you want a good resource for this, see the Sarah’s Day Youtube video on this exact task.
Step 2. Do your shopping, stick to the list. I avoid the chocolate aisle altogether usually. Actually I avoid all aisles that I don’t need to go down. If you’ve mapped out your local supermarket (hey, it’s not weird), then you will know what’s where.
Step 3. Come home and put it all away, have a rest if you need.
Step 4. Have your meal plan and recipes handy and get to prepping. Make sure you follow food safety guidelines.
Here’s my typical week, now that I’ve got a little more time on my hands (work 30 hours = Mon-Thur 8:30am-5pm + workout + 5 min commute).
Saturday morning: Meal plan, make list, get groceries.
Sunday: review meal plan and figure out what I need to make.
Sometimes this means:
juicing lemons for my lemon juice ice cubes
prepping protein powder to take to work for my shakes
making (or portioning out) healthy work snacks
making healthy desserts
making overnight oats, prepping oat servings or portioning out egg whites
chopping fruit or veg and putting them in airtight containers/ziplock bags
Sunday night I make a large meal for me and my husband, usually in the slow cooker. Examples: roast dinners, corned silverside and vegetables, soups/stews/curries, stir-fries. There’s generally an extra 3-4 meals out of this, so they go in the fridge or freezer.
Throughout the week I make dinners and the extra portions either go into the fridge or freezer. I typically have at least 2 meals in the fridge during the week that are prepped. Just a note, my husband works away Monday - Friday, so he generally takes a couple of frozen meal prepped meals with him.
Here’s my old schedule (work 40 hours = Tue-Fri 7am-5:30pm + workout + 25 min commute) meal prepping routine:
Buy 2-4 types of low carb cooking vegetables.
Buy 2 types of protein (4 servings of each).
Buy 1 type of carb (8 servings).
Cook all of them and do a mix and match system for the protein and vegetables.
This makes 8 meals which covered me for lunches and dinners. At his point my husband worked as a field tech and was constantly on the road. He wasn't really interested in taking home prepped meals because he wasn't sure when he'd get a break and didn't have access to a microwave.
For breakfasts, I would makes 4 types of overnight oats or prep 4 servings of eggs and 4 servings of oats to make oatmeal/porridge. That way I could take these to work and eat there.
Morning snacks: I made healthy muffins, biscuits, slices etc. portioned up, wrapped in cling wrap and in the freezer.
For afternoon snacks, I cut up celery, capsicum/peppers or some other dipping veggie and took a (smallish) tub of healthy dip to work, that lasted me all week. I always had other snack options in my desk at work; as well as an assortment of tea bags. In case I got an attack of the “I don’t want what I brought” or “I’m extra hungry today” or “I have PMS and desperately need sugar”. Oh and I took my own milk because our workplace only had Coffeemate (we were in Canada after all).
So on Tuesdays I packed the most stuff into work i.e. my dip, veggies, milk, extra snacks. And then each morning I just had to grab breakfast, a baked treat out of the freezer, a lunch and water bottle.
Just a note that I usually don’t prep for weekends; they’re a little less predictable and I have more time to cook or go out or invite people over. So I keep that loose.
Another idea that I've seen on Instagram is one lady who cuts up all the ingredients for lunches, puts them in separate containers and all her and her husband have to do is construct. So I've seen her do burgers, burritoes, wraps, "buffet" (mix of random ingredients). So if you're a person who hates all the chopping and the decision each day but you have time to make yourself a plate, this method could work for you.
I hope you've gotten some ideas from this blog post. Do you struggle with anything else when it comes to food, such as binge eating, not eating enough or not knowing what to eat? Contact me for a free consultation, I'd love to chat.