So you want to eat clean and see some results but your cooking skills are dismal or your struggling to find time in your hectic schedule to fit both and training and organizing your meals in? Well below are some of my simple tips and tricks to make meal prep not only tasty but fast and convenient.
Beginning with the basics, set aside a time 1-2 x per week to do a food shop, I tend to do the bulk of my food shop on a Saturday afternoon after work and then cook on Sundays. Saturday allows me a small amount of time to organize the food, cut any meat/store foods and then Sunday is left for cooking. When your shopping be sure to read labels and go in with a list so your not there all day!
Basic staple items to shop for:
• Fruits and vegetables
• Lean protein sources e.g fish, turkey, chicken, beef, cottage cheese, yoghurt, eggs, legumes etc
• Carbohydrate sources- Rice, pasta, bread, rice cakes, oats, beans, quinoa
• Fat sources: Avocado, nuts, nut butters, oils like flaxseed, olive, coconut, almond, cheese
• Flavorings – Herbs and spices, salt, pepper, seeded mustard, cinnamon, mixed herbs, garlic, rosemary, basi, chilli, ginger are some of my favorites as well as low carb salsa and or low cal dips/dressings/vinegar etc to taste
• Fresh lemon and lime for salads and dressings
• Beverages- Flavoured teas, bottled water, soda water, almond milk etc
• Plastic bags, baking trays/paper, lunch box storage containers
Now that your have your basics its time to prep, depending on your nutritional intake this will obviously changes but ideally you want to get a few days done in advance if you're a busy person. I tend to begin by putting on a roast of lean meat or chicken breasts etc in the oven in a baking tray with herbs, garlic, salt/pepper, thyme and chili cover and let cook while your prepping your other foods. While the meat is on I will dice up sweet potato rounds and place in the oven with cinnamon and salt on the top often herbs to. These will both take around 30-45 minutes depending on the oven and how thick the sweet potato and size od chicken are. While this is going on I will have 2 pots on the stove top going for steaming some vegetables and cooking either rice or quinoa which are my favorites. Cook up enough for a few days e.g 2 cups uncooked rice and 4-5 cups of veggies.
While this is also cooking I will cut up fresh salads and fruit to store in the fridge for 2-3 days max. Generally a staple salad with mixed greens, capsicum, carrot, cucumber, tomato, celery etc which I will leave undressed so it stays fresh. I would then also cut up fresh fruit strawberries, apple etc and also store in weighed out portions if necessary for easy access and label. Next would be a simple salad dressing which you can make up with your own recipe and store in the fridge that way when your prepping your meals your simply grabs some of your pre made salad and dress! Easy ? While all this is going on I would also sometimes when very busy make up some breakfasts in advance such as protein pancakes, I would blend up my mixture in a food processor enough for 3-4 pancakes. These can be pan cooked, cooled then frozen for easy access. I also like to cooked up burger patties on the stove top with lean minced meat, grated veggies, eggs and herbs/spices then if I have no time to add veggies to meals I know I have got some fiber in the burgers.
Generally speaking meat can last in the fridge cooked for 3-5 days depending on the meat, seafood 1-2 days. Salads 3-4 days, cooked veggies 3-4 days, fruit cut up 2-3 day. If you often add lemon juice to salad and or fruit it may keep it from browning. Once your meat is cooked either portion it off and freeze or refrigerate depending on when you will be using it, then add either some salad/cooked veggies/carb source/fats etc. I would then also prepare snacks such as a batch of protein balls, nuts in bags, rice cakes, protein shakes on the ready.
All up this would take me about 2-3 hours depending on how much I'm cooking up.
So top tips for meal prepping:
• Always make extra and freeze/refrigerate
• Keep a clean tidy kitchen with lots of space
• Plan before you shop
• Allow time in your week for prep
• Budget ahead of time
• Multi task
• Label and weight foods and also date them when cooked
Hope this helps your prep time ?