Prepping a week’s worth of meals in advance is much healthier and far less expensive than purchasing the classic high sodium content meal deal offered by the local supermarket everyday.
Or, if you do make your own lunch everyday, prepping all of your lunches in two hours on a Sunday frees up the valuable spare time you have during the week.
Before you start cooking you’ll obviously need to go shopping. But before you go shopping there are a few questions to be considered.
What are your goals? Are you trying to lose weight, or are you trying to pack on muscle? The content - and quantities - of your meals will depend on the results you are trying to achieve.
After you’ve thought about what you want to you achieve you need to decide what it is you fancy eating; eating the same meal every day, week on week, will undoubtedly become boring.
If your meal prepping is to have any longevity then variety is going to be key. To start with keep it simple and combine at least one type of carb, protein and veg.
(Depending on your goal you can of course alter the quantities of each of these groups). Here are some ideas:
Carbs: quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, lentils, whole grain pasta
Protein: chicken, turkey, ground beef, salmon, tuna, eggs, beans, lean beef
Veggies: broccoli, green beans, brussel sprouts, kale, spinach
Now that you’ve selected your meals and been shopping it’s time to get started! If you’re cooking foods such as grains or beans that need to be soaked overnight make sure to do this on Saturday.
On to the cooking! Personal preferences may differ on how to prep your food, however here is one recommendation:
Cook your food groups in this order: Meats, carbs, veg.
When cooking meat the oven is the way forward. It’s both quick and clean. If you cook everything on the stove you’re entering into a whole world of mess. Here are a few options: roast chicken, ground beef meatballs, baked salmon. Whilst waiting for your meat to cook you can move on to your carbs and veggies.
If you’re boiling multiple carbs make sure you keep track of timings. Organisation is key! It’s imperative that you know how long everything has been cooking for.
Finally, on to the vegetables. Wash, chop and season your veg and if cooking on the hob do so now. If cooking in the oven prepare your veg so you can place it straight in once the meat is done.
Obviously you don’t want to be eating meat/vegetables you cooked on Sunday come Thursday but you can do some prep on the Sunday to cut down on the time it takes to prepare your lunch for Thursday and Friday. For example, you can cook up a large batch of Quinoa on Sunday and keep it in the fridge until Friday, and you can wash and chop your vegetables ready for cooking on Thursday. That just leaves the meat to cook resulting in far less prep time and washing up.
- Make sure to buy microwave- and dishwasher-safe reusable containers
- Add spice! Plain chicken breast quickly becomes boring. Experiment with different sauces and spices.
- Eat healthy fats when snacking: almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter.
Example meal prep:
When you’re first starting it’s best to just stick to prepping one meal per week; then, once you’re confident that you’ve got the hang of it you can move on to prepping multiple meals. Here is one example by one of our own members of Team Tribe.
Chicken with sweet potato mash and broccoli (3 lunches)
- Zest and juice from 1 lime
- 2 tbsp sugar free maple syrup
- 1 heaped tsp grated root ginger
- 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 750 grams sweet potatoes cubed
- 8-10 broccoli florets
- Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 50ml milk
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and set two pots of water to boil.
- Mix the lime zest, juice, grated ginger, maple syrup and a tbsp of olive oil together. Slash the chicken breasts 3-4 times and generously coat with the marinade. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Cook the sweet potatoes in salted boiling water for 10 minutes until tender.
- Do the same for the broccoli for 4-6 minutes.
- Place the chicken breasts in the oven for 20-30 minutes.
- Whilst waiting for the chicken and veg you could take the time to prepare some nuts for mid morning and mid afternoon snacks.
- Drain and mash the potatoes, adding butter and seasoning. Add the milk as required.
- Divide the chicken, mash and broccoli between your containers.