Meal Prep Sunday (could be any day but Sunday is generally a good day for it) is a day where you prepare the food for the rest of the week.
- Reduce the amount of food you throw away
- Increase the amount of fresh ingredients you eat
- Decrease the amount of money you spend on food (per meal)
- Be healthier and better for you
- Give you more time during the week to relax
- Dramatically decrease the time it takes you to ‘cook dinner’ or ‘make lunch’
The rules of Meal Prep:
First of all, there are no real rules, you basically have some containers and fill those containers with food at the beginning of the week, this food is then ready to eat (e.g. salad with chicken for lunch) or is ready for cooking (e.g. veg chopped and ready with chicken marinated).
The beauty of this preparation is you won’t be tempted to go out and spend extra money on expensive shop bought pre-prepared food and you will have more time after work/uni etc to relax instead of cooking.
A good way of making prep easy is split your meal plans up into categories e.g. Protein + Veg + Carbs, this means for each meal you only have to think of 3 items to prepare.
A few examples (there are obviously tens of thousands of alternatives):
Protein: Chicken, Eggs, Beans, Pulses, Fish, Pork, Soya, Pistachio nuts etc
Veg: Green beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Spinach, Tomatoes
Carbs: Potatoes (including Sweet), Brown Rice, Lentils, Whole Wheat Pasta, Brown Instant Noodles & Quinoa
Things you will need:
- Some recipes
- A list of foods you plan to eat/cook BEFORE you go shopping
- Enough food for 3-5 lunches
- Enough veg for 3-5 dinner meals (cut and washed)
- Some food containers, make sure they’re reusable, microwaveable, BPA FREE
- A good selection of spices and sauce ideas/recipes
- Some resealable bags (ideal for fruit or marinading chicken etc)
- Enough food for some healthy snack bar making
- Some labels and some pens to make notes
- You may want to bulk buy things like UK Chicken Breasts to cut costs down
Once you’ve got your ingredients and containers, it’s time to prepare:
Protein / Meat: Try and use the oven or slow cooker to cook in bulk if possible. Cooking multiple dishes at the same time will also reduce your gas/electric bills + whilst it cooks you’ve got tons of time to prep other food.
Carbs: If it’s rice, pasta, potatoes etc then get this cooking asap, smash on a timer if possible. Others may be easier to cook on the day but there is nothing better than cold roast potatoes!
Veg: Wash, Cut and Season. Cook in steamer (to keep nutrients inside) or in pan of water (ensure you keep the water as you’ve accidentally just made Veg Stock so use this in any soup dishes/sauces etc). If not cooking then pat veg dry and place in container for cooking/eating later on.
When buying meat consider buying in bulk from sites like LiveLean and MuscleFood or try your local butchers to see what deals they can do as keeping meat local is best for everyone.
Things to remember:
- Throw in Chickpeas, Lentils, Spinach, Mung Beans, Soya Beans, Kidney Beans, Butter Beans and even oats into your sauces/dishes is an ideal way of bulking your food up on the cheap
- It will take you around 1-3 hours to prepare all your food for the week but this will cut your cooking times dramatically during the week.
- Most things will last 3-5 days in the fridge and once cooked will last a similar amount of time
- Dry veg etc will spoil/rot etc much slower than damp
- Another mid-week prep half an hour will help for food
- Pulses (e.g. chickpeas, broad beans, kidney beans etc) + many other foods (e.g. Rice) shouldn’t be stored at room temperature for more than an hour or two after cooking as this allows bacteria to multiply. Once cooled place in fridge or freezer immediately.
Other ways to save money:
- Look at ingredient lists on labels of food to get an idea on how to make your own.
- Replace your morning/afternoon snacks with a piece of fruit.
- Buy in bulk! – It sounds obvious but it is so easily ignored.
- Don’t throw away vegetables that nearly going out of date, use them in stews/soups or casseroles then freeze. Or just cook and freeze.
- Stock up on canned fruit and veg, they’re great additions to many meals and an easy way to bulk food for relatively low prices.
- Buying food in season is a great way to save money.
Eastern (Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai etc) Broths and soups are a great way to eat healthy. e.g. Vietnamese Noodle Soup + they take as little as 10minutes to cook.
Where should I look for recipes?
Will I not get bored of the same food each day?
It’s completely down to you if you prepare the same food for each day in the week, many people are happy to do this but we often will have 2-3 days that are the same and try and make the others different, of course there is generally nothing stopping you from freezing any food and saving it for next week.
Cover images via ctreasure, kitch6041
Something we try and do each week but some ideas taken from https://mymealprepsunday.com2 comments