I have a basic philosophy that everything lasts three days in the fridge so I tend to prep on Sundays and Wednesdays to avoid having to spend too long prepping in the kitchen each time – the trick is to be organised and then get fast and efficient and streamlined so that you can be doing this at the same time as making dinner (barely any extra washing up!)
I often tell clients that meal prep might feel arduous at first but in time it can become just a part of your routine – kind of like washing your face and brushing your hair and your teeth (if you weren’t doing these things and someone told you that you needed to do these things twice a day you would feel really overwhelmed but because you naturally build them into your routine, you do it without thinking out it – that’s how food prep can be!!)
When Monday morning rolls around, it feels AMAZING to know that you breakfast and work lunch is sorted – starts your week on top!
So basically I get work breakfasts organised first (everything for three days worth): I make chia puddings in little tubs or just pop natural yogurt with a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds and LSA in a container and mix and then top with frozen raspberries – both ready to grab and take to work or eat at home in the morning. Alternately you can put a couple of boiled eggs in a wrap with some spinach and a spicy relish and wrap them in baking paper, ready to toast in a sandwich press at work or home.
Snacks are really important to prepare because healthy snacks are HARD to find and if you have something with you then chances are you will eat it but if you don’t have anything you will hunt and gather – usually not a great choice! Prepare snacks in advance to save time! I prepare enough snacks to last three days on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights. I usually choose between 2-3 of these options for each week: boiled eggs; nuts/seeds; chia puddings; apple with almond spread; hummus and carrot/celery/cucumber sticks; miso soup; bliss balls; healthy banana bread; cheese and cucumber. I literally have loads of little screw top containers (I like using baby food jars for this as it’s hard to find jars that are small and cheap enough – I just get the apple puree ones (only $1 per jar) and use the puree in chia puddings or in a smoothie and then I get to have the jar forever!) and I fill some with nuts and seeds, almond butter or hummus to take with a handful of veggie sticks that are cut up and ready to go – if I just take the whole bag of nuts or packet of hummus with me, next minute they are gone and I’m left feeling sick and bloated! Meal prep helps a lot with portion control! Yes, you are right – the veggie sticks are not quite as fresh on Wednesday as they were on Monday but I just don’t have time to cut them up daily so I go with it.
Lunches: generally I double dinner and take for lunch the following day which means I really only to think about what I am having for dinner (assuming that breakfasts and lunches are already prepped!) – often I will also make a big batch of quinoa salad for the first three days of the week and then I just add some extra protein from dinner into it each day.
Dinner: I usually try and have a meal plan for what I am cooking for dinner for the next three days and make sure that I have the ingredients on hand. I usually keep it pretty simple for the beginning of the week (but always make enough so there is an extra portion for me to take to work the next day – start to think of it not as leftovers but as an extra portion that you are making) – salmon, chicken skewers or lamb cutlets to have with steamed veggies (broccoli, beans, carrots and cauliflower) and roast sweet potato (if you are super time poor – cut up your veggies in advance and store them in an air-tight container in the fridge). When you get home just chop and bake the sweet potato in a hot oven and then cook the meat and steam the veggies in a saucepan– half the battle is just thinking of what you are going to cook but when that has already been planned it becomes easy.
Most Sundays I also try to cook a soup or casserole-type meal have for dinner that night but to also freeze a portion and keep on Thursday when my fresh veggies and inspiration are running out!
I also throw a few nice herbal tea bags in my lunch-bag at the beginning of the week so I always have lots of yummy ones to choose from at work – my personal favourites are licorice, nettle leaf and rooibos.