A beginner’s guide to meal prep.
Tonnes of people have asked me to meal prep for them and I always laugh it off whilst feeling extremely flattered, but this got me to thinking… what is it about meal prep that scares people? I want to talk you through my process in the hope it can make weekday meals that little bit easier for you as it now is for me : )
First up, I think one of the most important things to decide is what you want to get out of your prep and why you’re doing it. I started prepping because I wanted to improve the way I eat and be fully prepared so I don’t reach for naughty snacks all the time.
With that decided I then choose what I want to eat. This is a process I love as I get to check out what is in season and throw loads of ideas together in my trusty little notebook. Yes I am really the type of girl that makes notes about food (sorry… not sorry).
So… what to eat? For me, this is a really simple question to answer, because I try to track my calories and macros I know what portion of what food types my meals need to be made up of. I’ve upped my protein intake so every meal has a lot of lean protein where possible. Protein helps keep your immune system in great working order as well as helping with muscle growth and repair so it’s an extra added bonus now it’s flu season.
Once I’ve decided what to eat it’s all about the shopping lists, if I don’t write it down there is absolutely zero chance I’ll remember it. I group together my foods by where I’m getting them from so it is easier to read. My first stop is always the butcher, I get locally sourced leaner cuts of meat in all the awkward quantities I ask for HAHA.
One of my favourites is chicken mince or keema as it’s more commonly known at my local. It is such a versatile product, I’ve used it for lasagne, to make burgers and also as meatballs. It holds together really well without having to use anything else to bulk it out.
Chicken & broccoli stir fry
Chicken wrap & salad
250g lamb pieces
½ tin spinach
½ tin tomatoes
Inch of ginger
2 tbsp curry powder
½ tbsp. mixed herbs
4 bay leaves
400g chicken breast diced
½ red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp balsamic
1 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tortilla wraps
1 romaine lettuce heart
200g chicken breast
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp light mayo
1 tsp mixed herbs
Meatballs & dhal
100g arborio rice
400g chicken breast
1 clove garlic
4 squirts fry light
200g chicken mince
1tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chilli flakes
150g red split lentils
1 green pepper
1 clove garlic
1tbsp ground cumin
1tbsp madras powder
Low fat Greek yoghurt
½ honeydew melon
Usually I prep all my protein first by seasoning it then popping it in the oven but with it getting so cold on some days, I’ve gone for a selection of one pot style dishes, they are easier to throw together, produce less washing up and I think I’ve also managed to get bags of flavour into them.
One of my favourite Indian dishes is a saag, whether it is with lamb, chicken, beef or king prawn it always goes down a treat. For my one pot saag I start by throwing my aromatics and lamb into a dry pan and turning until there’s some really good colour on the lamb (I like to get some pieces on the bone as I think it adds more flavour). Throw in your remaining ingredients before leaving to simmer for an hour.
If you get your saag on first it really allows all the flavours to combine. Try to resist eating it on day one and the flavours get better. Honestly!
My lentil dhal takes about half an hour if you use red split lentils. I throw all the ingredients into a pan and leave on a low heat. You just need to keep an eye out to make sure your lentils don’t dry out.
As JB can not even begin to comprehend that some meals can be eaten without meat, I pair the dhal with some form of meatball. This time round I used chicken breast mince as it’s lower in saturated fats.
Seasoning it with chilli, herbs and garlic prevents it from being bland. I bake it for 20mins in the oven which makes sure it remains moist. I know they look a tad anaemic but if you leave it in for longer it’ll be dry and taste pants. The spices in the dhal make this a warming dish without it being blow your head off spicy… you can obviously add more chilli if you like.
As per the standard uncertainty of living in The North-west of England, every now and then despite it being autumn we get the odd day of glorious sunshine. This chicken wrap is perfect for days like that.
I marinate my chicken for 20mins with lemon, salt, pepper and mixed herbs before alternating on a skewer with mushroom and tomato. I bake these for 20mins at 180oc alongside the keema meatballs. Quick, easy on the go lunch… SORTED.
The whole purpose of meal prep is to make life easier for yourself. I have found 3 HUUUGE benefits to it:
1: By prepping breakfasts and lunches for JB and I on a sunday, it now means there is less food waste as I calculate the exact amount of portions needed.
2: We also no longer have that 20 minute panic in the morning trying to scramble around in the fridge for leftovers that I can then take to work for lunch. I now have exciting and tasty lunches that aren’t repetitive.
3: We have saved a whole heap of money! Prepping like this, using my shopping list from local producers and butchers costs around £20 a week for all the meat, veg, yoghurt AND fruit that we snack on.
If those weren’t 3 great reasons to give it a try I don’t know what is. Hopefully this makes your weekly food prep a lot easier to deal with.
Happy prepping : ) x