Brian Tracy, author and motivational speaker says it beautifully: “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy!”
Today I want to talk about how effective and empowering a little planning on your nutrition for the week can go a long way.
But why plan your food?
1. Planning food allows you to save money. A salad with a decent portion of protein will cost you anywhere from $10 – $25 to buy out and often the dressing is so calorie dense and full of hydrogenated oils that it’s actually bad for you! Make a whole, clean, fresh and tasty salad at home for $2 – $5 depending on your choice of protein and greens/vegetables.
2. Eating food you make allows you to fully be aware of what ingredients are in there – especially good if you have allergies, sensitivities or dislikes!
3. You save time on a busy day because it’s one less thing to think about. You don’t have to go in search of food and resort to the fast food joint around the corner and load up on burger and fries (Cos that’s all you were next to!)
4. You keep your blood sugar more balanced because you have prepared snacks for the day so you don’t get home from a busy day, yell at your significant other and gorge on a bag of chips and down that bottle of wine in sweet desperation to feed your growling gut and overcome the ‘hangries’.
They are just a few of many reasons why food prep can be a lifesaver. Sometimes people actually notice what you have made and the fact that you brought your food and ask you questions about what you have for lunch and become influenced by your proactivity – you change others lives and health all whilst optimizing yourself!
So, how do you meal prep?
Easy. Let’s start off here.
Day 1: (Saturday morning is perfect for this)
Work out what you (and maybe your family) like to eat.
Look up recipes online (Pinterest is great) or cookbooks and find some simple meals you can make. Keep it simple – don’t start to go flambeing or making soufflés, rolling croissants, and leavening bread – think what is my protein, my vegetable, my complex carb, my fat – that’s it. I like to opt for one pot/pan recipes, use a crock pot or everything together in one dish type meals.
From that, depending on how many people you are making it for, double the recipe so you have enough for the following day/s.
Then write a shopping list – check your pantry first for what you do have so you don’t waste money and resources doubling up on ingredients.
The next day, do your shop early in the morning (when the grocery store is empty) and get home and get cooking! (Don’t forget to take the shopping bags with you!)
Pre-portion your food in contains (glass is preferred) and shove it in the fridge! Voila!
Here are some easy things I like to do for the week:
I normally make a curry which is loaded with vegetables and meat. It tastes better the next day anyway as the flavors have time to amalgamate. I steam off a decent amount of brown rice so I can grab a portion of rice and curry, top with some extra greens like spinach or arugula and some cilantro – sold. Also, I pre-grill some chicken breasts or chicken thighs and keep them in the fridge.
I will spin some salad greens and keep them in the salad spinner ready to go. Pre-cut some cucumbers and carrots and store them in smaller containers, then the morning of, add a dollop of hummus or guacamole and there’s a great snack.
Pre-boil eggs, peel, and store in containers. I can add this with my cucumber and carrot the morning of to add an additional protein portion to my snack or throw them on top of my salad for lunch.
Pre-cutting apple slices in small containers and adding a tablespoon of almond or peanut butter. Snacks galore. You can grate carrots and zucchini and store in containers to add to salads. Make a huge batch of healthy vegetable soup and freeze it in portions for a later date when you’re pressed for time, just grab and go and it will be defrosted by lunch or dinner time. Sometimes I will quad upon a recipe and freeze half of it for the next week.
Some additional tips:
- Not a good cook? Don’t like cooking? Hardly have any time? Save yourself some time and effort by purchasing pre-cut vegetables, pre-roasted chickens, sliced meats and salad bags. Stores generally now sell cauliflower rice, zucchini or squash spaghetti, pre-cut broccoli, and mixed veggie bags, pre-portioned frozen fish (check ingredients), etc. This is a little more costly but if it saves you time and eating poorly, it’s worth the extra money.
Invest in a good knife, chop board, Tupperware containers, and zip lock bags. My boyfriend had a near heart attack when we moved house and saw how much Tupperware I had, but boy is it handy and I use it – a lot!
Make this a fun event – get your partner or kids, friend or family involved.
Turn it into a Friday night fun or Sunday morning ritual to share with some friends and batch cook together both saving time and money, investing in your social life and sharing knowledge and ideas in the kitchen.
It will take some time to turn this into a habit, but once you do and you reap the rewards of a bit of meal planning you will feel really empowered and proud of yourself that you finally took control of your kitchen and your nutrition!