How to meal prep like a total boss, starting NOW
Ursula Walsh has shed over 56lbs since starting her Instagram account Mom Fitness Diary to document her weight loss. The Mexican mum-of-two, who lives in Co. Offaly, has amassed thousands of followers, all eager to keep up with her daily tips and recipes.
"Having your meals prepared and partially ready to eat not only saves time, it also eliminates stress, which will keep you on track when you want to either lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
No matter what your daily schedule looks like, it can be tricky to make every meal a healthy one. We're all guilty of popping an unhealthy pizza into the oven, but believe me; it’s all fun and games until you no longer fit into your jeans.
Personally, I do my meal prep twice a week. My first meal prep is on a Sunday, where I prepare food for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My second meal prep takes place on a Wednesday, when I prepare for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Typically on a Sunday I like to be a bit more spontaneous, when I like to rustle up fun and simple salads or put together easy, healthy meals.
First things first: here are five essentials you need in your kitchen to meal prep like a boss:
- A good range of plastic containers. If you are on the go and need to bring lunch in your bag you are going to need containers to keep your food safe and secure and avoid any unpleasant spills.
- Kitchen scissors. They will help you cut excess fat from rashers, chicken or beef.
- Ziplock bags. These are always handy for preparing snacks for the week so you can just grab and go every day. They’re simply fantastic for storing nuts, fruit, rice cakes, dark chocolate, protein bars, dates and raw veggies.
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons. These are indispensable for measuring your portions so you can divide equally your foods, especially your grains. For example rice, quinoa, couscous, beans, etc. Generally speaking, females should be measuring around one cup of cooked grains and males should be measuring around two cups.
- Weighing scales. This is not 100 per cent necessary, but some meal plans will require measuring your protein or your oats. It’s also handy for certain recipes.
Once you have all your equipment ready, the next step is to spend some time planning what your meal plan will be for the week.
Here's an example of a weekly meal plan:
Monday-Friday: Overnight oats and berries
Saturday and Sunday: Poached eggs and a slice of whole meal bread
Monday-Wednesday: Chicken stir-fry with brown rice and 1 apple
Thursday- Saturday: Tuna on crispy crackers with ricotta cheese, cucumber, corn and spinach
Monday-Wednesday: Homemade beef burgers with roasted sweet potato, broccoli and side salad
Thursday to Saturday: Vegetarian chickpea salad
- Rice cakes
- Nut butters
- Carrot, celery and cucumber sticks with hummus
- Greek yogurt with nuts
- A protein bar
Once you have your meal plan you can now do a smart grocery shop. Wandering into your local supermarket without a shopping list is a recipe for disaster; there is no point in choosing random ingredients and hoping for the best!
It is essential you have a shopping list, it empowers you to know exactly what you are buying and cooking.
Here are some more tips to help you get started:
Make sure you experiment with flavours. Plain eating can get a little boring. Use spices and homemade marinades and dressings, coat your chicken or fish with lemon and herbs or jazz up your veggies with some extra virgin olive oil, paprika and sea salt for extra flavor.
Chicken, beef burgers and salmon freeze very well after being cooked. I find the trick is to wrap them with three different layers: tinfoil, cling film and finally newspaper. It might sound a little OTT but this really helps to keep the meat protected and preserves all the delicious flavours. You can keep cooked meats in the freezer for up to three months.
Grains also freeze very well in ziplock bags. You can cook rice, quinoa, couscous or millet. Then measure your portions, allow to cool fully and place inside the ziplock bags to freeze. They keep perfectly for up to six months. One last tip; don’t forget to label all bags.
When needed, you can then take your pre-prepared meal out from the freezer the night before to allow it to thaw fully. The next day, heat the meat up in an oven or microwave and serve with a fresh salad or steamed vegetables that you have already prepared from your meal prep day. You can keep your cooked vegetables in the fridge for up to three days.
Always keep wholemeal breads in your freezer; pittas, wraps, and bagels. You can take them out from frozen and pop them in the toaster to make yourself a delicious wrap, a chicken pitta or an avocado-egg bagel for breakfast on a lazy weekend morning!
I hope these tips will help you to meal prep like ‘a boss’! As the saying goes: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!
MORE: Read Ursula's Back to School Lunches and How To Quit Emotional Eating.