Dispelling Meal Prep Myths


‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’


It's solid advice for many aspects of your fitness journey, but particularly when it comes to your diet and nutrition.


We have all set off on a Monday morning with great intentions to “be good” this week, but come Wednesday; you’re home late, you have no food in the house and suddenly a Just Eat driver is knocking on your front door.


There's absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional takeaway, but do it a bit too often and it may really impact your fitness goals.


There’s an easy solution: meal prepping!


Unfortunately, just those words make us think about bodybuilders dragging around plain chicken and broccoli in an old lunch-box.


In this blog post, we’re going to dispel the myths around meal prep, look at why meal prep is for you, and how it’ll help your fitness journey (and maybe even the health of your family!).


Why meal-prep?

  1. Waste less time shopping and cooking

  2. Save money

  3. Improve your health


1. Waste less time shopping and cooking.


There’s absolutely nothing more time-consuming than mindlessly wandering around your local grocery shop. Of course, you can always make a list (and this is encouraged!) but if you haven’t thought about your meals ahead of time, nine times outta ten you’ll realise by Wednesday that you’re missing a vital ingredient for your dinner, *opens the Deliveroo app*.

With meal-prep, you know what your meals are for every day, you have a proper list with everything you need; and you can zoom around the shop knowing exactly what you need.


Meal-prep will also save time cooking. You can cook meals simultaneously (i.e. a lasagne in the oven with a curry on the hob), you can bulk chop all your veg in one go (or buy pre-cut: there’s no judgement here!), and having a plan will always save time over winging it.


I try to get most of my meal prep done on a Sunday - usually in two hours or less, with no reason to stop by the shop during the week.


2. Save money


Takeaways aren’t just less than ideal for your fitness goals - they’re also less than ideal for your bank account!


Generally, a main for one person will cost more than 6 portions, and most recipes are easily replicated at home (I’ve added a few family favourites at the end of this post!).


Getting ahead with your meal prep will help you budget for the week without worrying about a random midweek takeaway expense.

Meal-prep will also save you money while grocery shopping, stopping you buying extra items you don’t need which will go to waste (p.s. it’s also better for the environment!).


Let’s be honest, we have all gone into the shop to pick up rice, and ended up with a £50 bill. It makes good sense that the less time you spend in a shop, the less money you’ll end up spending.


3. Improve your health...and your family’s too!


There's a reason why takeaways and restaurant food are so good - they generally use more oil, butter and salt than we do at home!


Don't get me wrong, I'm a firm believer that there are no good or bad foods and food is made to be enjoyed; but consuming high-fat, high-calorie meals with little to no veggies included is probably not the best for our overall well-being.


Meal-prepping gives you full control of you and your family’s diets, including fats used, the amount of vegetables, and portion sizes.


This is particularly useful if you are currently pursuing fat-loss or muscle gain. Being able to control variables like protein, overall calories, fibre and salt content is so useful when trying to accurately monitor your food intake.


The more you “guesstimate” the less accurate your tracked calorie intake will be. This may lead to frustration and disappointment when stepping on the scales.


The salt content in restaurant food may also leave you feeling bloated and lethargic, and less likely to get your training in, having more knock-on effects to your overall health. Eat out as a treat, pre-planned: don’t use it as a crutch because you haven’t planned ahead 😜



10 top tips for meal prepping


Before you shop


1. Set aside time in your diary for your grocery shop and cooking. Make sure you have enough time for both on the same day to ensure freshness!


2. Plan your meals before your shop: breakfast, lunch, dinner. Consider how many portions you need, and whether they need to be transported for on-the-go.


3. Make a concise shopping list based on all the ingredients you need - or even get your shopping delivered through an online service!


4. Make sure you have good-quality lunch boxes that can also go in the freezer. This might be a bit of an investment initially but remember - this will save you money in the long run (no-one likes ruining their new bag with spag bol!)


The cooking


5. When you start to prep, prepare all your veg in one go or buy pre-chopped veg.


6. Prepare your evening meals first - these generally take the longest to cook, so you can prepare your lunches and breakfasts as they are simmering away.


7. Decide if you will cook your carb source during prep or when you reheat your meals - chips or pasta don’t taste as nice when reheated!


Portioning and storing your prepped meals


8. If you’re cooking for yourself, simply take note of the quantities of macros in total and divide by number of portions - no need to weigh it out!


9. If you're cooking for a family, get the total weight of the meal when cooked and weigh each portion. Express the weight of each portion as a fraction/percentage of the total meal weight. Divide the nutritional information of your bulk ingredients by those percentages to find out how much protein and how many calories are in each portion. Make sure you label which is which!


10. Store Mon-Wed in the fridge, and throw Thurs-Sat in the freezer. Don’t forget to take it out the night before!


The only thing left to decide now is, what are you going to cook?


Here are three of my favourite recipes for meal-prepping, which are suitable for the whole family!


Chili con carne


Chilli Con Carne

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

  • 600g beef or Quorn mince

  • 2 finely diced carrot

  • 1 finely diced courgette

  • 1 finely diced bell pepper

  • Finely diced onion

  • Clove of garlic

  • 2 tbsp chili powder (add more if you like extra spice)

  • 2 tsp paprika

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • Tin of tomatoes

  • Tin of kidney beans (rinsed and drained)

  • 1kcal spray

  • 60g grated cheese


Method

  1. Coat non-stick wok/frying pan with 1kcal spray and fry onions, garlic and meat until the meat is cooked through.

  2. Put the diced carrot, courgette, and bell pepper, tin of tomatoes, and kidney beans in a separate pot and season with the chilli powder, paprika and cumin.

  3. Add in meat and onions once cooked, then place the pot on a medium heat.

  4. Let the mix slowly come to the boil, stirring occasionally.

  5. Once sauce thickens, cover and leave on a low heat until all the veg and meat is cooked through.

  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add extra spices if desired.

  7. Serve with rice or baked potato and a sprinkle of grated cheese.


Thai Red Curry


Chicken Thai Red Curry

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

  • 600g of Tofu/prawns/Chicken

  • 1 bell pepper

  • 1 head of broccoli

  • 2 medium-sized carrots

  • Finely diced onion

  • Clove of garlic

  • 2.5tbsps Thai red curry paste

  • Can of coconut milk

  • 1kcal spray


Method

  1. Coat non-stick wok/frying pan with 1kcal spray and lightly fry onions and garlic.

  2. Add the Thai paste to the pan and dry fry for a couple of minutes, then slowly add the coconut milk. Stir until the coconut milk has mixed with the paste to create a sauce.

  3. Add your source of protein and allow it to cook in the creamy sauce. When the meat is half-cooked, add the veg to the pan.

  4. Let it simmer over a medium heat until veg and meat is thoroughly cooked. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

  5. Serve with rice or noodles.


Chicken/Prawn/Tofu Satay


Tofu Satay with Rice

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

  • 1kcal spray

  • 600g chicken/prawns/tofu

  • 2 diced onions

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 head of broccoli chopped

  • 2 bell peppers cut into strips

  • Thumb-size piece ginger, grated

  • 1 red chilli, sliced

  • 100g crunchy peanut butter

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 100g natural yogurt

  • 60g chopped mix nuts

  • 2 limes cut into wedges


Method

  1. Coat non-stick wok with 1kcal spray and sauté onions with a bit of salt for 5-6 minutes.

  2. Turn down the heat a little and add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Fry for 3-4 minutes then leave on a plate to cool.

  3. Once cool, put in a blender with the peanut butter, natural yogurt and soy sauce, and blend to a chunky paste.

  4. Put in a large mixing bowl, then stir the protein source into it to coat thoroughly to create your satay mix. Marinate for at least 30 minutes.

  5. Add satay mix and veg to the wok and stir fry until the protein is cooked through. Serve with rice, lime wedges and chopped nuts.


Happy meal-prepping!




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