After a long day at work, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking an entire meal; making sure it’s healthy, and trying not to use every utensil in the kitchen. Not to mention going to the shops on the way home to buy ingredients, otherwise, I’d be combining some pretty unappetising combos.
Although meal prep might seem like a whole lot of planning and organising, it is one of the easiest ways to keep your nutrition in check and to see results in the long term. It doesn’t have to be complicated either; unless you’re about to step on stage for a bodybuilding competition, you just need to make sure you’re getting all the right macros – your carbs, fats and proteins.
It’s also one of the easiest ways to reduce how much you’re spending day to day.
So, we asked personal trainers, gym owners and fellow members of the GuavaPass community what their best meal prepping tips were and these were the top pics of them all…
1. Make your prep YOUR OWN
If you don’t like chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli…then don’t have it! You’ll fall off the wagon a lot faster if you try to stick to something you know isn’t right for you.
Instead, think of what you do love to eat – choose 2 options for your protein, 2 for carbs and 2 for fat that you could look forward to having throughout the day.
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For example, you could choose:
- Proteins: Beef and Pork
- Carbs: Sweet potato and couscous
- Fats: Avocado and cashews
This way you can mix and match, keeping your body and appetite guessing. Don’t forget to add in at least 1 handful of greens like spinach, asparagus, bok choi or rocket to each meal. This will make up for a large chunk of your daily fiber, minerals and vitamin needs.
2. Stick to your pre-planned grocery list
After you’ve picked out the components for your meals, you need to make some simple calculations before you head to the grocery store.
Trust me, you’ll want to do this before you get to the shops to avoid over or under buying, or diverting from the list.
It’s pretty straightforward…
The recommended protein serving per meal is around 40g, roughly translating to 150g of your chosen meat. So for example, I’d need 150g of beef x 7 (1.05kgs) and 150g of pork x 7 (1.05kgs).
A good carbohydrate serving is 30/40g of carbs per meal, so find out how many carbs are in 100g of your chosen carbs, and times that by the number of meals you plan to have throughout the week. For example, I’ll need 150g of sweet potato x 7 and 50g of uncooked couscous x 7 (350g).
Fat is a very important part of every meal, and you should be having at least 60g of fat per day (20g per meal). So for example, I would need around 120g of avocado x 7 and 30g of cashews x 7.
It doesn’t have to be down to the gram, but sticking to these number will save you time, effort and inches off your waist.
3. Get shakey
Morning or post-workout shakes are an easy, quick and mess-free way to manage your daily intake and nutrient consumption. They also don’t have to be boring or repetitive. At the start of the week, get your perishable smoothie ingredients together in sealed bags so you can freeze (i.e. bananas, berries, spinach), then pull out and blend at any time for a cold and refreshing smoothie.
Here are 2 different ‘packed smoothies’ you can try:
Berry choc smoothie
- a handful of frozen spinach
- 1/3rd cup of frozen blueberries
- 1/3rd cup of frozen strawberries
- 1 scoop of chocolate protein
- ¾ cup of almond milk
Coconut banana smoothie
- A frozen banana
- 3 tablespoons of frozen desiccated coconut
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- ¾ cup of coconut water
- (optional) 1 scoop of unflavoured or vanilla protein
4. Simplify your snacks
Whether you’re trying a low carb/moderate fat diet, or a low fat/moderate carb diet, the one thing you can be sure to never have enough of is protein. It is arguably the most important component of any weight loss or weight management journey.
Having high protein snacks available throughout the day is a great way to keep on track and sustain yourself till the next meal.
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Here are some high protein snacks you can pack up and take with you anywhere:
- A hard-boiled egg
- 30g of almonds
- 1 small tub of greek or natural yogurt
- 30g of trail mix
- Hummus with carrots or celery
- Quest bars or other low carb protein bars
- Can of naturally spiced tuna
5. Try to have one cooking session
Splitting up your meal prepping nights to 2 or 3 throughout the week is just giving laziness more room to sneak its way in. Try to stay organised every Sunday or Monday and make it part of your weekly routine to have one big cook up.
Meals can be frozen for up to 2 weeks before they start losing any flavour whatsoever.
6. Keep things interesting the RIGHT way
Instead of coating your healthy meal prep with tomato sauce or syrup (and take 2 steps back with your goals and planning) there are other ways to spice up your meals.
During preparation, add any of these spices or herb combos before cooking your meat/vegetables:
- Smoked paprika, pepper, cumin, a dash of cinnamon and some chili
- Parsley, basil and oregano with a splash of white wine vinegar
- Lemon juice and black pepper
After preparation, you can use the following low-calorie sauces (in moderation!)
- Sriracha sauce (maximum 2 tablspoons)
- Balsamic vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Light ranch dressing (For example Hidden Valley Original Ranch Light)
7. Good things take time
If you’re meal prepping for weight loss, be patient! Meal prepping for 1 week won’t result in your all-time dream body, but you’ll feel like a new person at the end of the 7 days.
If you’re combining your meal prep with a committed exercise routine, reducing the number of weekly treats and staying hydrated, in 4-6 weeks you’ll look and feel like an entirely new person.