We all know that nutrition is an essential part of our life. When I see patients in clinic and I recommend changing a diet to approach a healthier way of eating, which includes home preparing and regular meal, I immediately see that terrified look on their face that says to me “I don’t have time for cooking, and it is going to cost a fortune to eat healthy”.
It is not necessarily true, a well thought out meal plan can help you improve your diet quality or reach a specific health goal while saving you time and money along the way. In this article I’m sharing with you my tips for meal planning and prepping with some wonderful and easy recipe.
Benefits of meal planning:
- Reduces stress and saves time: there are less last-minute trips to the shops for ingredients or fretting over what to cook. When you are more organised, you have more time to relax and focus on other things.
- Financially beneficial: When you have your meals planned and prepared for the week, it reduces the amount you may spend on eating out at lunchtime or ordering off the cuff takeaway for dinner. When you go shopping with an organised list, you know what you need to buy so you’re less likely to fill your trolley with unnecessary items.
- Decreases food waste: You only buy food items you need, therefore preventing food from going unused or left to rot in the fridge. When you list out your ingredients and work out the quantities, you become more conscious about what you’re buying.
- It empowers you to be mindful of what you’re eating: Instead of impulse buying and grabbing something convenient at the shop, meal planning enables you to choose healthier food options in advance. It also prevents you shopping when hungry (definitely avoid this!), and potentially buying unhealthy snack and junk food.
- Broadens your plate and inspires you to get creative with your food choices and recipes, instead of eating the same few meals in, day out.
Where to start?
1. Start small: Begin by planning and prepping for 1-2 meals or snacks for the week ahead, and slowly you’ll figure out a strategy that is suitable for you. If you have never created a meal plan it may feel a tad overwhelming at first. Developing a meal planning habit is not different than making any other positive change in your life; starting small and slowly building confidence is a great way to grow naturally with your new habit.
2. Get organised: Good organisation is a key component to any successful meal plan, start with organising your cooking space, pantry and create space in your fridge or freezer for your meal before starting with the actual meal preparation.
3. Invest in some good quality food storage containers, they are the most important tools for meal preparation. Before you make a purchase, consider each containers intended use and potential toxic load. Here is some great toxin free recommendation
Biome has a great range of glass storage containers; I recommend containers that you can stack on top of each other for a better space organisation
Evereco is my favourite choice for stainless steel containers, they are great for keep your food fresh throughout the day.
4. Consider each food group: whenever you are preparing meals for a week, few days or just one, it is important that each meals contains each food group; carbohydrates, protein and fat. Check out this blog by Naturopath Jennifer Ward on understanding macronutrients.
5. Batch cook: batch cooking means to prepare food in larger quantities, that can be stored and consumed later in the week. Batch cooking is a game-changer for meal prepping, here are some useful tips
Batch cooking tips:
- Choose your proteins:
– Hard boil eggs for the week ahead and store them in airtight container – this is a great grab-and-go option- Roast a whole chicken for use in your weekly salads- Use a slow cooker to prepare meat stews or slow cook soup using a variety of legume
- Choose your vegetables and fruits:
– Cut your vegetables and store them in airtight containers with some water, you can use them to create your salad, as a snack or add them to your morning smoothie- Roast your favourite vegetable for the week – Steam vegetables and store them in different containers, you can quickly pan fry them when needed and add them to your favourite protein.- Pre-cut fruit and vegetable for your morning or afternoon smoothie, you can ether store them individually or already mix in a reusable silicon bag ready to be blended.
- Choose your Grains:
– Boil your favourite grain to add to curries, stews, or salad, such as rice, quinoa, buckwheat, or even pasta.
- Choose your Flavour
-It might be pesto, chimichurri, a garlic yoghurt sauce or a vinaigrette. This part is key to make sure you 100% enjoy your meal
Top recipes to meal prep in advance
Foundational Five nourish bowl by Nutrition stripped
Your go- to guide for a well-balanced, nutrients dense bowl recipes, quick to make and easy to adjust to your own taste.
How to roast vegetable by Minimalist Baker
Who doesn’t like roast vegetables? Here is your Step-by-step guide on how to roast and use them.
Green smoothie by Jaclyn Cave
Smoothie is my way to go when I have a busy week, there is so much room for flexibility and creativity. This smoothie is rich in protein, fibre, and good fats.
Easy overnight oats by Lisa Bryan
The beauty of overnight oats is that you can make them as simple as creative as you’d like. You can use variety of toppings and mix-ins, including fresh fruits, nuts, seed, spices, yogurt and jams.
Slow cook lamb shank and vegetable by Tessa
A macro-balanced meal rich with flavour, fibre and bone broth. This one is gentle on the digestive system, nourishing and perfect for lunch or dinner.
Quick & Easy Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon Patties by Jennifer Word
A well combine and convenient meal, rich in omega – 3 and protein, easy to prepare and perfect to for a lunch break at the office.
Cookie Dough Collagen Bar Recipe by Jaclyn Cave
Homemade protein bars are great snack options, here is a goodness packed with proteins good fat and collagen, which is great for your skin, join and gut health.
Dairy free frittata by Cook nourish bliss
Coming from an Italian Family, Frittata was a weekly dish on the table, an easy rich of favour dish, full of protein and vegetable. great gluten, dairy free and vegetarian option.
Gluten free banana bread by The Healthy Chef
A gluten and dairy free Banana bread, free from refined sugar. Your perfect breakfast or afternoon snack.
Serena Di Modugno, Adv Dip Nat, Adv Dip WHM, Currently studying BHSc Nutritional Medicine
Serena is a qualified naturopath with a focus on MTHFR, allergies, and anxiety
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