Everybody's doing it! What? Meal prep!! Preparing your meals in advance is one of the most effective tips I give to my clients who are trying to lose weight, and it can also really help you lead a less stressful life when you get in from work feeling exhausted, but you know that dinner has been taken care of. What luxury! Or if you're a new mum struggling to find the time to cook healthily while looking after a new baby there's also some ideas in here for you too. Read on for my guide on how to get started and some great, easy to-follow tips that every family will use.
There are so many reasons to meal-prep, and I really can't think of a good reason not to! Tope reasons to do it include:
1. Save money - you plan your meals in advance (you don't have to do a week at a time, even a few days at a time is beneficial) and then only buy what you need. So, no last-minute dashes to the supermarket (and let's face it, how many of us only buy what we went in for when we go shopping?)
2. Save time - you're tired when you get in from work and so is everyone else. The last thing everyone wants to be doing is waiting an hour while dinner cooks... When I was office-based, I had a rule that if it took more than 30 mins to cook on a work-day then I wasn't interested! That was a bit of a shame in some ways as it meant that we ended up with quite a limited range of foods, that I knew worked within that time and that everyone would eat. But with a bit of prior planning we could have been eating more interesting, varied meals. Preparing the ingredients in advance means you can eat much quicker and then get on with relaxing, or doing whatever else in the evenings
3. Takes the worry out of cooking - feeding a family healthy meals that they will eat takes time and effort! We all want to do the best to bring our kids up on a healthy diet. But it's not great when you're sitting in the office and have no idea what's for dinner tonight...and grabbing something quick on the way home that might not be as healthy
4. You're more likely to eat well - if you have healthy food in the fridge you're more likely to eat healthy food! As always, when you're trying to eat well it's important to have healthy food available so that when you're hungry you have a healthy choice available, and this helps stop you from reaching for the biscuit tin
Okay, so that's you convinced I hope? What next? Well, read on for my tips on how to actually get started....
1. Make sure you have plenty of tupperware containers and/or sealable food bags. Depending on what you prefer portion size, you may prefer to have family-sized portions or individual ones. If you have particularly fussy eaters in the house then individual ones might be useful to cook lots of what they like, so you don't always have to eat the same meals. They can also be useful to take lunch-sized portions to work
2. Speaking of lunch, another of my top tips is make extra when you're making an evening meal and take the leftovers for lunch the next day for a healthy, cheap lunch
3. Make up a meal plan for however many days you want to prep for. If you have a small freezer then you might only be able to do a few days at a time, but that's fine
4. Set aside time on whatever day suits you for your meal prep
5. Write up your shopping list and shop accordingly. If you can manage it, shopping online is great for sticking to your budget and avoiding the temptations in the store. Or if you're in the store "scan and shop" is fab too (I use it when I can) as it helps me shop quickly and keeps a running total of what I'm spending. http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ is a good shopping website, where you can compare prices between the big supermarkets and also for ones that do home delivery you can place your order here too
6. Foods you can easily prepare in advance:
Having said all that, there will be days when it all goes wrong and you've forgotten to take something out of the freezer..... so here's what I have in my kitchen for making something quick at the last minute to avoid the takeaway temptation!
Exercise For Mum's was created by PT mum Susan Flintoff. Susan is a busy working mum of two who specialises in helping other busy mum's fit health and fitness back into their lives, and hopes to inspire them to be the best mum they can be!!