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MEAL PREP. MEAL PREP. MEAL PREP.
Nikola who is an active member of our Healthy Mummy community is telling us how she manages to do all her weekly meal prep – and she does it like a boss!
5 easy tips to help you meal prep like a pro
Hi, I’m Nikola and I’m a busy single mum to two beautiful 5 year old twin boys. I have been following the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenges since August 2015 and have lost 15kg. My biggest piece of advice for following the challenges is to plan and meal prep.
So today I’m going to share my top tips on meal prep and planning.
Every 7 days I take time out, to sit down and menu plan for the coming week. I find trying to plan and meal prep all at once is too intimidating and time consuming. Breaking these two things up has been really helpful for me.
When I menu plan I figure out what the main meals and snacks for the week will be, the ingredients of those recipes, what I need to buy to make them (I generally have most ingredients at home already) and what day I will do the bulk of my prep.
I try to choose meals that use similar ingredients within my recipe plan to save on the costs of groceries as this means I can buy ingredients in bulk.
Once I’ve done my grocery shop I prep everything before I put away.
For example I cut up all my fruit and veggies and store them in separate, clearly labelled containers for quick and easy access. This way they are ready to grab for cooking, to eat as a snack, or to throw into my smoothies. I find this saves time and energy especially at night when I’m cooking dinner and everyone (including me!) is tired and hungry from a long day.
I find I get 5-7 days out of storing the fruit and veggies in the fridge like this. If they are starting to go bad I freeze the fruit to use in smoothies and puree and then freeze the veggies to throw into things like Bolognese sauce, or veggie soups.
When it comes to cooking I try and make things I can cook all in the one pan/pot. For example I made 4 meals last week Lasagne, Hidden Veggie Bolognese, Red Curry and Quick Chicken Laksa. I used the electric wok to cook it all. One meal after the other. Doing this saves on washing up and saves on space by not cluttering the bench with pots and pans everywhere. I just gave the wok a quick wipe out after each finished dish and then started the next meal.
I also try and cook 2 different meals at the one time. For example cooking the Zucchini and Bacon slice in the oven while using the stove top to cook Devilled Sausages.
If I’m baking I make all the mixtures at once and have them poured in tins ready to pop in the oven rather than waiting for one to cook then starting another cake.
Rinsing dishes and cleaning as I go also makes prepping easier, faster and less chaotic in the kitchen.
I still cook most days but am smart about it, I repeat meals to have the next day too. For example I’ll cook san choy bow for dinner one night, and then have it the next day for lunch, or use the filling for something different – like stuffed zucchini boats.
When I do a big cook up it’s generally to stock the freezer for those times where you can’t be bothered cooking or its just one of those crazy busy unplanned days where you get home late.
For these moments it is so handy to have a healthy meal in the freezer ready to go, as opposed to ordering unhealthy take away.
I freeze a lot of my snacks too as I find after 2-3 days many just aren’t as fresh as I’d like them to be.
Things like muffins and cakes I freeze in snack sized snap lock bags.
I also freeze things like bliss balls so they are always ready to go when you just want a quick snack to grab.
Other things I freeze to make cooking easier on myself are brown rice and quiona. I cooked up a double batch of both and let them cool, then I portion it out into 1 cup serves and freeze in snap lock bags. When I want rice I can grab it out nice and quick and I just have to pierce the bag with a fork and microwave for 1-2 minutes. Not only does this save me time but it saves me money too as after a while those microwave rice cups add up!
I always have fresh kale and spinach frozen in zip lock bags to throw into my smoothies. Both go bad quite quickly so when I don’t freeze them they tend to get wasted.
I cook meals that I know will freeze well and save things like salads or easier style meals to make during the day as lunches.
I use plastic take away containers to store meals in for the freezer as they stack well and are good to put straight in the microwave for re-heating.
I also use the snap lock bags for portioning; the snack size bags are perfect for putting in 2 bliss balls, 1 muffin, a slice of cake etc. By having snacks portioned and frozen in this way, it also stops me from having that sneaky “extra muffin”.
Because most of the time I’m only cooking some meals for myself I find portioning them up before I eat is the best way to stop myself having a larger than normal portion or a second helping.
I use plastic drawer containers that I purchased from Kmart to store food in the fridge and freezer as it creates space, therefore being able to have more food in there. Things stack really well in them.
I hope I’ve been able to give you a few tips and some advice on prepping foods for the week. It will get easier to do and you’ll get yourself in a routine. The first time can be a little overwhelming but when you’re sitting down to that healthy meal you grabbed out of the freezer instead of eating takeaway it will all be worth it!
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