Meal prep is the buzzword in healthy eating for 2017. Between The Body Coach’s Tupperware towers and the macro counting Instagram accounts, you may have noticed a trend for getting organised.
If you want to maintain your diet, save money and eat something that’s a little more inspiring, this is where you have to start.
Simply put, meal prep is the process of getting the many elements of various future meals ready in advance.
It sounds so easy, where could it go wrong…?
7 EASILY AVOIDABLE MEAL PREP MISTAKES:
1. USING CHEAP TUPPERWARE
Before you even start this process, upgrade your containers.
Whether your dish is oily or not will become immediately apparent if you’ve scrimped on you lunch box.
When you arrive at work with yoghurt juice soaked into your muffins and a balsamic vinegar stained sports bra, you’ll replace your set from the 99p store.
Hey, here’s an idea – invest now and avoid that that mid-morning dash to buy Vanish from Tesco.
2. YOU PREP WAY TOO MUCH
It’s easy to get over excited by the prospect of finally getting organised and being that person giving everyone lunch envy.
However, for most of us the prospect of eating the same food three times a day is less than appealing.
Team that with surprise meals, lunch meetings and dinner catch ups (essentially life) getting in the way, and you can wind up with food going off in your fridge that could have been safe and sound in the cupboard.
If you are prepping on a big scale, embrace the freezer. No one wants to find uneaten grey turkey in her fridge, let alone eat it.
If you have big ideas for the week, batch cook a new meal every three days rather than trying to do everything at once.
3. YOU’RE MAKING THINGS TOO COMPLICATED
You normally spend Sunday watching one or more nature documentaries and now you’re trying to make three different grains, roasting a chicken and boiling a whole box of eggs.
While it can be tempting to create a menu for the week based on every delicious healthy lunch you can think of, the whole point of meal prepping is that you’re taking elements that can work together again and again, to create different meals.
Also, (see the previous point) the more extravagant you are the more likely you are to cook more than you need.
One easy lunch option is can of tuna with quinoa, avocado and butter beans. The only thing you need to prep? The quinoa.
4. BATCH COOKING ONE THING FOR A WHOLE WEEK
Some people don’t mind eating the same thing for lunch and dinner but for most of the population that’s more than a bit boring.
It’s also more likely to see you bin your fifth serving of homemade chilli in favour of your favourite Pret toastie.
Again, make space in the freezer. By all means make enough for five, eight even 10 portions (if you have the a very big freezer) but think about the week as a whole.
Food is life; you want to enjoy it.
People who really struggle with the repetition may find it easier to batch cook smaller amounts every other day rather than one mega Sunday session. It’s all about finding what works for you.
Try cooking one protein like chicken or salmon fillets and keep mixing up your grains. Microwave rice pouches are a healthy and easy way to add some extra flavour.
5. NEGLECTING TO SEASON
You wouldn’t expect to eat plain cous cous with plain roasted squash and plain chicken in your favourite healthy eatery.
So, before you start bemoaning the fact that your healthy lunches are boring and bland, embrace the salt and pepper, make friends with your spice rack and hey, chop up a chilli.
The same goes for dressing. Finally make use for all those tiny Tupperware and mix up an olive oil and lemon combo.
6. OVER OILING
There is a flip side to the seasoning coin: over oiling. There are some foods like the Mediterranean favourite, peppers, that can become extra oily when you roast them (especially if you come over all Jamie and drizzle everything with olive oil).
Similarly, the garlic-filled juices that look so appetising in your roasting pan will turn to cold oil or fat once you’ve stuck them in the fridge overnight.
Save the chicken fat to make seriously tasty stock and let the olive oil go.
Cooking tonight? Try these easy vegan recipes, tofu recipes or quorn recipes.