Preparation is key to success, and this couldn't be more true when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet and nourished body. Whether you go to school or university, work or even are a stay-at-home Mum, food preparation goes a long way in helping you eat right, as well as save time, money and a whole lot of stress!
From personal experience, I know that if we aren't prepared when it comes to food, it often leads us making poorer choices out of time and convenience. For example, on a long 12 hour day at Uni, if I wasn't prepared by making my meals and snacks ahead of time and making sure they were nourishing and adequate to keep me going the whole day, I would feel tired, hungry, unable to concentrate and not be productive at all. And it's such a great feeling when you get home after a long hard day, and a delicious and wholesome dinner is already basically sorted!
Not-prepping food can also lead us to spending unnecessary money on expensive (and usually not-so nourishing) takeaway foods, convention snacks and other easy food options, as well as over-eating, because you're absolutely starving by the time you've made yourself dinner from scratch after a long and tiring day.
Food prepping is a true life saver! Personally, I also find it to be quite fun and a relaxing afternoon ritual once a week.
In the Social Media world, there seems to be this idea that meal-prepping means 5 perfectly portioned out containers of the same veggies, rice and protein source for the week. However, I think this is rather boring and unsustainable, as well as greatly reducing the variety (and enjoyment!) in your diet. Therefore, I like to meal-prep a little differently. Instead, I prep a few staples and 'basics', as well as a few additional things to keep things interesting (and these will vary week-to-week), which I then mix and match to create my meals.
Base: Usually some kind of starch, such as brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, sweet potato etc.
Veggies: A mix and match of different colourful veg each time, both raw and cooked (e.g. zucchini, tomato, pumpkin, broccoli, cucumber, mushrooms and always some kind of leafy greens)
Protein: This is usually black beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, tempeh, tofu etc., either plain or in the form of a chilli, curry, falafel, bean patties, Dahl or marinated!
Fat source/condiments: A tahini dressing, a few spoonfuls of avocado, sprinkle of nuts and seeds, as well as some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar etc.
See, sounds much more exciting already!
Below is a typical example of a meal I might create from my food prep: Then baked sweet potato and falafel I prepared as part of meal prepping, thrown into a bowl together with lettuce, cucumber, tomato and avocado to create one of my NOURISH BOWLS! I would also add some apple cider vinegar or lemon, black pepper and herbs to dress it up.
Buy a few big bags or bunches of green leafy veggies (such as baby spinach, rocket, lettuce, kale, pak choy etc) and wash them straight away! Then keep them in a large container in the fridge, lined with paper towels, to keep them fresh. This way, your greens are ready to use and eat, without having to spend time washing and preparing them before every meal.
I use greens in salads, stir fries and smoothies, as a base to nourish bowls or thrown into cooked meals like curries, chilli, Dahl, pasta sauce etc by the handful! Greens are packed full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and disease-protective phytonutrients, and should be a daily part of everyone's diets to keep us feeling great.
Every week, I choose a different whole grain to cook, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat or teff. I usually boil 1-2 cups dry, then keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bonus points if you can soak them overnight first to make them easier to digest. These make a great base or side to meals and nourish bowls, as well as for adding to salads or making sushi!
Whole grains are a great source of complex carbohydrates to provide long lasting energy for our bodies and brains, as well as being amazingly nutrient-dense - full of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Having pre-prepared veggies makes it so much easier to eat enough of them! We all know how great vegges are for us, full of minerals, vitamins, fibre and antioxidants. They also add colour, flavour, texture and plenty of volume to meals!
To meal prep veggies:
- Chop up raw veggie sticks like carrot, celery and capsicum to have in the fridge ready to go for snacking. Dip them in hummus, nut butters or throw into salads and bowls.
- Roast up a big tray! I always roast a tray of starchy veggies like sweet potato and pumpkin to make an alternative meal base to grains, used in buddha bowls or salads, or as a side to any dish. Then another tray full of cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, tomato, capsicum, zucchini and any other veggies I have on hand. These add so much flavour to salads and any other meals, and help ensure you reach those nutrient and fibre targets, while keeping you satisfied and satiated.
Choosing different veggies and different herbs and spices to use each week add variety and means you also never get bored!
Legumes are another great protein source, as well as being packed with other nutrients and king a great staple for satisfying and filling meals. Cook 1-2 cups dried beans/chickpeas after soaking them overnight and then keep them in a sealed container in the fridge, or freeze them in a ziplock bag! If you prefer, you can choose canned varieties and make sure you're stocked up on those.
From legumes, I usually make a big batch of Dahl, bean chilli, lentil bolognese or some other legumes and veg based dish to use for meals throughout the week. I also usually make a batch of falafel or veggies patties to add to nourish bowls, salads or wraps!
Making your own snacks will save you so much money, and they're usually much better for you too! Every week, I make up a different batch of bliss balls to keep in the fridge or freezer for snacks. I also bake something, such as banana bread, bars, muffins or blondies to snack on.
Check out my snacking master post for more simple and delicious snack ideas you can prepare for the week!
- Dressings - a simple dressing can really make a meal, and they're so easy to make and keep in a jar in the fridge. So much better than store bought dressings, which are typically full of salt, oil, sugar and additives. I like the simple balsamic vinegar-dijon mustard mix (add some garlic and herbs if you like) or a creamy tahini dressing
- Dips - I like to make a batch of hummus each week. Great for dipping veggie sticks in, adding to nourish bowls or spreading in wraps or on toast. Other dips I sometimes make are cashew cream cheese, spicy refried beans and pesto
- Granola - make a big batch each week to snack on, add on top of smoothie bowls or eat with fruit and plant based milk or yoghurt
- Nut milk/yoghurt - homemade nut milks are the perfect creamy and nutritious addition to smoothies and breakfast bowls, and my homemade soy yoghurt makes a great quick and healthy snack with fresh fruit and granola
- Bircher - perfect for quick, easy yet energising and wholesome breakfasts. Simply prepare the night before, or make a big batch once or twice a week, then in the morning simply add some fresh fruit and breakfast is sorted!
- Frozen fruit - keep your freezer stocked with frozen fruit for smoothies. I also freeze any fruit (bananas, mangoes, peaches etc) that are overripe. Perfect for smoothie bowls!
I hope you found this post helpful! Please leave a comment if you have any questions or requests of what else you'd like me to cover. And tag me in your meal prepped meals on Instagram, I'd LOVE to see them! xx