Now that you've followed the three steps to meal planning that I explained in Part 1, it's time to get into food prep! Here's a video of my meal prep day last weekend. It's a good idea to set aside some time on a day where you actually have some spare time, so your meal prep can be relaxed and FUN.
Tips for Meal Prep:
- If you can, go to a market or farmer's market for fresh produce to save money! My week of vegies (plus some leftovers) cost just under $60 - that's about $1.70 per meal. Usually, $60 is what you'd use if you bought lunch 4 days a week!
- Lay out all your ingredients and group them into meals so you can see exactly what you're working with.
- Start with the things that will take the longest - roasting etc. Multi-task by preparing salads while something else is cooking in the oven.
- For salads, chop all your ingredients and either mix them all in a large bowl then distribute between containers, or lay out your containers and add a bit of one ingredient into each container, then a bit of the next ingredient and so on and so forth.
- Re-use pans. If you're frying one thing, use the same pan to sautee the next. I caramelised onions in a fry pan, then made my stir fry in the same pan and used the oniony goodness as extra flavour ;) I also made my soup in the same pot my water was boiling in when I steamed my veg. If you're super talented, you can steam your veg over the soup!
- Use food processors, garlic crushers and other tools that make life easier.
- You will make a mess, and it will seem chaotic at first. Take breaks to tidy up your space and clean up anything you won't be using again.
- Get all of your containers out of the cupboards before you start cooking. Just grab a few off the stack when you're ready to dish up a meal.
- Have your herbs, spices, seasonings, oils etc ready to go in a place where they're easily accessible, especially if you're using them in more than one dish. I had mine next to the stove top.
- Don't dress your salads until you're going to eat them to avoid soggy salads. You can squeeze some lemon over the top to keep them from discolouring, but if your fridge is cold enough and they're in tupperware containers, your vegies should stay crisp for the whole week.
- Make meal prep enjoyable! I usually have some of my favourite music playing while I cook so I can jam in the kitchen - obviously, this will make your food taste better ;)
But what about the protein, fats and carbs?
- Normally, I've got a freezer full of cooked and raw proteins that are portioned out ready to go. You can do this on your meal prep day by popping some chicken breasts/fish on a tray (perhaps after the roast vegies!) and baking those while prepping other dishes. Hard boil eggs in the water you're using to steam some vegetables above it.
- Buy fresh fish and meats during the week and portion them out raw and pop them in the freezer. That way, you can pull out the proteins you'll need for the next day and let them thaw in the fridge overnight, then cook when you need them.
- Sometimes my menu will have proteins as part of the dishes I prep - like a prawn green curry or a beef and vegie chilli con carne. I prep in the same way as I do with all my vegie bases, but will usually put these dishes in the freezer so they keep for the week.
- For fats, I just add some butter, oil, coconut or nuts/seeds to the meal when I'm ready to eat it.
- For carbs, you can make a bigger batch of whatever you prefer (spuds, rice, quinoa and so on) while the you prep salads, then keep in a larger container to pull out a serving and re-heat at meal time. Make things exciting by using spices and herbs!!
I hope this little guide has helped! Send your meal prep pics to firstname.lastname@example.org!