A lot of people feel healthy eating and cooking is expensive and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.
By knowing what’s in your meals, you can have a better idea of your calorie count and, more importantly, the amount of the different macro-nutrients (carbs, proteins, fats and sugar etc.) which can make a huge difference to you achieving your goal or not. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle or strip fat, macros are important.
Obviously everybody is different and so is every week, but this is how I do my planning and preparation. If you have kids, they may have after-school clubs or other activities that need to be taken into consideration – I work shifts, so this is a similar concept.
There is no right or wrong way to prep – you have to make it work for you! It can be as simple as writing your meals down, or you can chop vegetables and fruits that you’ll need for the week and store them in Tupperware, it’s completely your choice. It’s easy to get bogged down in the ‘all or nothing’ approach, but anything you can do to make your life easier is a help.
- Plan and buy right
What you buy influences what you eat. Sounds simple, right? I sit down for 10 minutes before a food shop and think about:
- Shifts for that week
- When I’m seeing the other half
- Any nights out?
- What food I already have in
I tend to have similar breakfasts and lunches when I’m working, so I don’t have to think about that too much, but I like to have an idea what dinners I’m going to make throughout the week so I don’t over-shop (and write my shopping list as I go along, so I don’t forget something!).
- Make a list
I have to take a shopping list with me, otherwise I’m lost. It also helps me to not buy things I don’t need/ want – usually junk food – or more food than I need throughout the week.
- Cook ahead
Like I said, I tend to have similar lunches for work but I like to cook a couple of days ahead so I can just grab-and-go when I’m on an early shift. You can store cooked meat in the fridge for up to a week, but I’m a bit funny so I tend to stick to 2 days ahead. Roasting chicken, cooking rice and then putting that pre-portioned into the fridge. That’s then ready for me to add to salad.
If I’m planning to use the slow cooker, I’ll prep that the night before so I can just switch it on before I leave – if I have a bit of extra time in the morning then great, but I usually work with a ‘worst case scenario’ attitude (if I oversleep, it’s done).
- Pre-portion snacks
If I buy dried fruit or nuts that I’ll be having for snacks, I weigh out the right portion size (usually on the back of the packet) and put them in bags or little pots. It saves me time when I come to eat them, and stops me eating the whole bag.
- Double up
If I know I’ve got a busy week coming up I’ll batch cook a meal which is easily freeze-able or re-heatable, meaning I don’t have to worry about putting something together when I get in late.
I think when it comes to meal prep and planning, there really are no limits – the world is your oyster. I have to have things planned out, mainly so I can make sure I eat correctly. If I don’t plan, there’s always the option to fall off the wagon and bad habits come creeping back in.
The thing to remember is that Rome wasn’t built in a day – start small and then incorporate more things in as you go along.
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