‘Meal Prep’ has a bad wrap. We get it, the thought of slaving away in the kitchen for hours, eating food that might not be to your liking, the organisation and so on. Does it have to be that way though?
Our new trainer Sophie Benbow has been meal prepping for quite some time and here she shares her tips.
‘Meal Prep’ is not a label everyone likes to use, I find ‘food organising’ is much more appropriate for me. It can mean different things for different people but for me ‘meal prep’ is a way to plan out exactly what I need to be eating throughout the week in my own way. It helps to keep me accountable, it helps with portion control and it actually helps me think outside the box and be inventive with what I want to eat (let’s face it,no-one likes bland, boring food eaten day in and day out).
I start with a meal plan, then a shopping list and then the prep (which usually take a few hours). Once I’ve written a few meal plans with a shopping list I can rotate these depending on my specific diet goals and what I feel like eating that week.
HOW DO YOU KEEP EVERYTHING FRESH?
I have so many good quality containers. I find snapware containers are the best and you can get them in glass and plastic. I much prefer storing in glass but if I’m on the run sometimes plastic is easier.
I also use small ziplock bags for snacks such as nuts and protein balls.
WHAT ARE YOUR SUPERMARKET STAPLES?
I buy fresh fish and seafood like prawns and salmon, a good amount of grains and seeds such as quinoa, freekeh and rolled oats, mixed nuts and seeds and fresh fruit and vegetables. Frozen is a great option if you are time poor. I use frozen spinach, kale and berries for my smoothies.
Also I like to make my own sauces but if I am pushed for time tinned tomatoes, tinned kidney beans and chickpeas are a really quick, easy and cost effective way to make healthy sauces and spreads and are awesome cupboard staples.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE VARIETY?
I like to change up my meal plans depending on what’s in season, whether I’m craving winter food or summer food and so on.
There is a lot of trial and error but I’ve managed to be quite inventive with herbs and spices, dressings, spreads and so on so that I keep it interesting. There is nothing worse than a bland diet, you have to make it delicious so that you stick to it.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE MEALS?
Quick and easy salads, soups and curries are great as they can be frozen, steamed fish with greens, rice paper rolls, wraps (there are so many)!
WHAT IS BEST TO PREPARE FRESH?
I try and keep my salads fresh but I’ll make the dressing and hummus (which is the time consuming part) so that it just takes a few minutes to throw it all together. Mushy tomatoes and black avocados are definitely not appetising!
Some great kitchen gadgets you should invest in:
I honestly could not live without my Vitamix, I use it once or twice a day (I actually have three of them I love the brand so much!!) My food processor is handy if I want to go to the effort of fermenting my own veggies, my spiralizer is so quick and easy to use. Zucchini noodles are a staple of mine.
You will also need a good set of mixing bowls, good quality non-stick pans, a steamer, containers and storage jars.
Some essential gadgets you should invest in:
- Measuring spoons: Essential for when you are making all of my recipes
- Fine grater: Use this for ginger and zesting citrus
- Egg perfect timer: For $10 this little gadget makes sure you get the perfect boiled egg
- Single and julienne peeler: I am constantly peeling vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes and I always julienne my carrots on top of salads
- Nut milk bag: So important for all of the yummy nut milks you’ll be making and you can juice with these guys too
- Thermometer: Handy if you are steaming fish, veggies (or chicken) in your steamer
- Snap lock bags: So handy for storing things in the fridge/freezer or when you’re on the go and want to take a handful of your trail mix
Since I’ve been meal prepping I’ve found I am more satisfied with my food and I’ve saved money. If you are willing to invest a little bit in the beginning in good oils, vinegars, seasonings and containers you will be set to make low fat, low cost, tasty meals.
The main health benefit is that you are not going to get caught out eating bad quality food because you are not prepared.
Sometimes there is not much choice around or you are in a rush so knowing you have your healthy fuel for the day takes away any bad food decisions. Also I think it’s really important to know exactly what is in your food and educate yourself on the quality of food you are eating.
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Some more meal prep articles with Sophie are here: