First, a confession. I hate meal prep.
I have a pretty logical reason for this (I think). It’s a long, painful story, but to keep it short, I essentially spent every weekend last year doing meal prep and it SUCKED.
It sucked because no-one, wants to spend their weekend at home cooking food. It’s a recipe for getting bored of cooking for sure. (See what I did there?)
With that being said, meal prep is also pretty awesome. It removes that whole ‘what should I eat for lunch, what should I eat for dinner, which snack do I grab’ conundrum. It makes it easier for you to eat healthy foods. And of course there’s less prep when it comes to actually eating so you don’t have to be hungry and wait an hour before food is on the table.
So how do you meal prep without ruining your life?
Unfortunately this is one thing you can’t skip. To prepare you must plan. That’s just how it is. The cool thing though is that you can do this on your commute, or while watching TV, or whatever. There are a few things you have to factor in when you’re planning what to eat: 1) Figure out which meals you’re actually going to be at home for, out for, or with friends for. 2) Figure out what you’d like to eat for those meals, and factor in variety. Yes, you love eggs, but maybe you don’t want to eat eggs for every meal every day for the next week. I’d also say, plan fairly simple meals (3-5 ingredients not including condiments). This might sound dull, but think about it: You have to cook all these meals in your free time. You don’t want to be making 5 recipes that take an hour to two hours each to make, that’s no fun. Check out the Lifesum app for inspiration, our recipes tab is filled with delicious recipes that are easy to put together and there’s something for every diet type. 3) Put together your shopping list. This step sounds basic, but you need to remember that the foods need to freeze well after cooking, and if you aren’t cooking everything immediately, you need to consider shelf-life.
How do you avoid cooking all weekend? 1) Make meal prep part of your normal cooking routine. For example, if you’re always home on Monday nights making dinner, when you make your dinner make too much and freeze it. If on Thursday mornings you have more time, make five breakfasts instead of one and leave them in the fridge (obviously watch out for use by dates). 2) Try not to buy foods that require a massive amount of prep time. If in order to use a food you have to first de-bone it and remove the skin, maybe you should buy one that is already de-boned and skin free to save time. 3) Recipes that are one pot, one dish, or can be done in the oven or crockpot are your best friend. There’s less washing up, and if it’s in an oven or crockpot you can walk away and do something else while they cook. Perfect! 4) Try to make recipes that use a lot of the same ingredients and steps – this means you can eat with variety without it taking more time.
Don’t be obsessive about it. We live busy lives, we have friends, we have jobs, we have kids, we go on vacation – it’s okay to not only eat meal-prepped meals (just be careful to not be wasteful). The whole point with meal prep is that it’s supposed to make your healthy eating easier to manage, not harder. And let me just say that whilst I’ve given you guys all these tips, I’m not doing all of them.
Well my roommate cooks most dinners during the week, and I’m not rich on time. So here’s what I do to keep things healthy and flexible:
1) I have a few go-to breakfast recipes that take me a maximum of 10 minutes to make – Lazy Oat Pancakes; Pea, Corn, and Arugula Omelette, and Poached eggs with Asparagus or Broccoli (That’s the bonus at the end of this blog post – incase you were wondering).
2) I gave a few 2-ingredient lunches I make as I’m making breakfast. I usually grab a head of broccoli or cauliflower (full of fiber and vitamins), roast or boil them, and serve them alongside roasted chickpeas, baked chicken, or baked fish. When I get to the office I drizzle them with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Done.
3) Dinner tends to consist of the same basic ingredients, and is slightly unhealthier than my other two meals (but it’s intentional – I like to not have to think about what I’m going to eat for dinner, or leave it open to meet friends). We usually have rice or pasta, some greens or other vegetables, and minced meat, chicken or fish.
Most of my meals tend to contain the same basic ingredients – eggs, frozen peas and sweetcorn, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula and spinach, fish, chicken, chickpeas, rice and pasta – so my roommate and I essentially buy the same foods each week. Buying the same ingredients means that I’m limited to specific recipes or types of recipe, which is kind of planning in and of itself. My simple meals don’t require my entire weekend but they still enable me to focus on eating the healthy foods I want to eat.
Some planning is still required, even for my method, but it’s realistic in terms of time and doesn’t require you to set aside entire days to eat well.
One more thing…
If you’re keeping an eye on macros, there is admittedly less room for flexibility and you need to make sure you measure and weigh everything, but you can still make things easier for yourself by prepping vegetables and portioning uncooked proteins in bags or tupperware so all you have to do is take them out and cook them.
Lazy Oat Pancakes
1/2 cup (1.5 dl) oats
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
2 1/2 fl. oz (0.75 dl) turkish yogurt
1/2 tbsp honey
1 small banana
1/2 cup (1.5 dl) water
Place the oats into a microwave-safe bowl, add the water (you don’t need to mix them yet).
Microwave for 2 minutes, then remove from the microwave and mix with a spoon.
Melt coconut oil in a frying pan, and tip it so that the oil is evenly distributed over the entire surface.
Spoon the oat mixture into the skillet, aim for four even balls.
Let these fry on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, then flatten them into patties and flip them. Fry on this side for another 2-3 minutes, then flip them once more and fry them again for 2-3 minutes. Both sides of each patty should be slightly crispy.
Remove from the pan and place onto a plate. Spread each patty with honey, dollop with turkish yogurt, then top with sliced banana.
(Serves 1, 462 calories per serving)
Poached Eggs with Asparagus or Broccoli
250 g asparagus or broccoli (rinsed)
1/2 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper
Bring two medium pans of lightly salted water to a boil.
In one pan, stir the water vigorously so you get a good circular swirling motion.
Crack the eggs into this as the water is still circulating.
Trim the ends of the asparagus (or chop the broccoli).
Drop the greens into the other pan of salted boiling water, and leave to cook for 4 minutes, then remove them from the water, and rinse them in cold water to stop them cooking.
Place the asparagus on a plate, put the eggs on top, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.
If you’re going with broccoli, just place the florets on one side of your plate and place the eggs on the other. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy!
(Asparagus: Serves 1, 295-387 calories per serving – depending on how many eggs you use)
(Broccoli: Serves 1, 330-422 calories per serving – depending on how many eggs you use)
Pea, Corn, and Arugula Omelette
1.8 oz (50 g) frozen peas
1.8 oz (50 g) frozen corn
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1.4 oz (40 g) arugula
Heat a medium frying pan and add half the olive oil.
On medium-low heat, fry the peas and corn (they’ll release a little water).
Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Add a little (very little) water, salt and pepper, and whisk again.
When the corn and eggs have thawed, add the remaining olive oil to the pan.
Pour the egg-water mix over the peas and corn in the pan, making sure it covers the entire base of the pan.
Once the bottom of the omelette has started to cook, place the rocket in the middle and fold the omelette over it. (Don’t worry if it breaks, you’re going to eat it after all)
Flip the omelette so the other side can cook.
Remove from pan and serve.
(Serves 1, 330-442 calories per serving – depending on how many eggs you use)
/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out
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