Meal prep is an ugly term. Most of us think of bulky bodybuilders and dieters who certainly don’t enjoy food or life! Although my original inspiration and foundation of meal prepping came from these worlds, it’s taken on an entirely different meaning and position for me. It’s also provided me with the greatest gift possible....
In this modern and crazy busy world of ours, time is a precious commodity and one that we don’t have a whole heap of. Between working longer hours than ever before, balancing social commitments, having time out, exercising and maybe sleeping at some stage too; what and how we eat has become a less than vital priority. It’s become simply another task to do (or not do as some of us fall prey to!)
Food and the way we eat however is fuel. It’s nourishment. It’s joy.
Most of all though it’s health, it’s the source of those feelings and adjectives we most crave in life, vitality, youth, enthusiasm, balance, happiness, wellness. There’s so much goodness out there on offer for us to consume and feel this way though who on Earth has the time?
Enter Meal Preparation.
This is the bit that you maybe don’t want to hear though know to be true, you need to pull your finger out and make the effort. There’s no quick way to health, not for any of us. So with that being said the second point is to be efficient and organised and it’s this point that takes the sometimes-associated pain out of eating well consistently.
Admittedly since I was a kid, I’ve been a freak of sorts when it comes to organisation, however this skill can be learned and what better motivation than feeling and looking amazing?
What does this commitment really look like then?
I spend 3-4 hours a week prepping and cooking for close to 50 meals. I’m not (well rarely) caught out without nutritious and delicious food leading to not-so-great food choices
Those 50 meals break down to 5 meals (and snacks) for 2 people for 5 days and one of those people is a man, my husband.
Sometimes the 3-4 hours prep is at once and other times it’s whatever I can do, whenever I can do it – such is life!
On high rotation for meal prepping in our house are washing and bundling our veggies, including green leafy ones to make green juices and smoothies a cinch, chopping and freezing bananas for the same purpose or a special ice cream treat, hard-boiling eggs, baked vegetables, pesto and hummus, sweet treats, muesli or granola, protein balls, quinoa, brown rice, lentils and chickpeas too.
For breakfast my Killer Muesli is a quick and easy go-to-option, ready in 2 minutes with almond milk, Greek yoghurt, fresh fruit and a sprinkle of cinnamon. For lunch and dinner it can be as simple as combining a couple of the above prepared foods and adding fresh options like avocado, tomato and herbs or some grilled/baked protein like chicken or lamb. Snacks could be a juice or smoothie with the elements ready to grab, a protein ball or boiled eggs with spices.
It is literally that simple and in our house we try to change it up by using different herbs when we’re baking, different oils for dressings and using various fruit and vegetables. We also try altogether new dishes each week and this is precisely how I ended up writing a blog with recipes, a cookbook and developing recipes for other people!
As the title of this post promises, here are my Top 5 meal prep recipes which are lovingly enjoyed in our home...
Although often referred to as a grain or cereal, quinoa is not strictly either because it is not a member of the grass family. A seriously awesome gluten-free option high in protein and also containing niacin, iron and potassium among others in its' nutritional profile.
- The ratio for cooking is 1:2
- (1 part quinoa to 2 parts water)
- Bring required water with quinoa to the boil in a saucepan on medium-high heat
- The cooking time is 15-20 minutes
- Cook off all water and remove from heat
- Set aside for 5 minutes
- Fluff gently with a fork to separate
- Allow to cool
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days
Vegan, gluten-free and ready in 5. Smear it on meat, bread and vegetables, include it in omlettes and salads, serve it as a dip and even use it as a pizza base topping... Use it everywhere is the point. Cheaper and better for you than traditional pesto, this recipe is insanely delicious and no doubt will fast become a house-favourite!
- 1 cup toasted cashews, cooled
- 1 bunch fresh coriander (stems as well), washed and dried
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1⁄2 cup macadamia oil
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
- Blend all ingredients together in a food processor
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
Hard Boiled Eggs
Cheap, versatile and insanely satisfying - oh yeah and they're healthy too! Nature's perfect protein source readily packaged for us and only carrying around 70 calories each.
- 1 dozen eggs, room temperature
- Bring water to the boil in a medium saucepan
- Carefully place eggs in one by one
- Cook according to taste preference - between 7 & 13 minutes with the latter resulting in solid hard boiled eggs
- Once cooked, drain and place in a bowl of icy cold water Leave for a few minutes and gently peel eggs as required
- As the eggs will be cooled from the icy water, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days
A fabulous vegetable staple providing bulk and starch to meals as well as immense flavour with my caramel-esque cinnamon recipe. Served cold with salads or straight from the oven - it always works a treat!
- 1 butternut pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon rock salt
- Preheat electric oven to 175 degrees
- Peel pumpkin and scoop insides out
- Chop pumpkin into 5cm-size pieces
- In a large baking tray, add the pumpkin and remaining ingredients
- Massage in the oil and spices for even coverage
- Bake for 40 minutes
- Give the tray a good shake to move the pieces around Bake for a remaining 30 minutes
- Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days
High in satisfying and nourishing carbohydrates, chickpeas are a cheap and nutritious way to add more bulk and protein to your diet. Processed into hummus, served as a dip, added to bread or any salad going; the options are endless.
- 1 cup of dry legumes gives you 2-3 cups when cooked
- Soak required chickpeas overnight in a large bowl with cold water just covering the peas
- The next day drain and rinse, removing any rocks or shriveled peas
- Bring water to the boil in a suitable sized saucepan according to the quantity requirements and add chickpeas
- Lower to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes or until soft
- Drain and rinse, allow to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days
Make these recipes, play around with the options and enjoy the feeling that preparation brings to your life; one of organisation and "I've got this." Give yourself the opportunity to shine and thrive with the food that you eat, feeling and looking fantastic without the stress and anxiety - yes it is possible!
If you're looking for more guidance and support on this front, PATH TO WHOLEFOODS, my signature 8 week eCourse may be exactly what you need.