16 October 2019 – World Food Day
9 – 15 October 2019 – National Nutrition Week
Meal preparation comes with a range of benefits, mostly relating to your state of health. What do we mean when we say: “meal prep”? Meal preparation involves making multiple meals in advance and storing them in the fridge or freezer so that they are ready to eat when you need them. They could be made in advance for the whole day, the whole week or even (to a degree) for most of the month.
Making all your meals in one go means that you won’t ever be left standing in the kitchen wondering what to cook. You won’t need to worry if you don’t feel like cooking as you can simply heat up your prepared meal and eat. From a health perspective, meal prep ensures that you’re eating well every meal and not reaching for unhealthy snacks or calling Uber Eats or Mr. Delivery when you’re hungry.
It’s also an efficient way to maximise on your time during busy weeks, and meal preparation also works out cheaper in the long run because you only buy what you need. There is no unnecessary expenditure on ingredients that you don’t use, and you can also buy in bulk.
Tips For Effective Meal Planning
- Consider including foods from each major food group for each meal (ie: protein, healthy carbohydrates, fats compliment by a range of vitamins and minerals)
- Write a list of all the different foods you enjoy so that you can mix it up every week
- Create a shopping list with all the ingredients needed
- Invest in quality storage containers that will keep your meals fresh
- Invest in a range of quality staples that have a long shelf-life. You will then only need to top up every week with your fresh foods
- Create a block of time in your calendar to prep your meals, this is usually best done in the evenings or on a weekend in advance for the week
- Make space in your freezer or fridge for your meals
In order to get the most out of meal preparation, it’s important to create healthy meals that provide lasting energy and plenty of nutrition. You want to avoid certain foods that don’t offer enough nutritional value. Take some time out to prep some healthy snacks too. These could be anything from chopped fruit to boiled eggs that can be stored in the fridge.
Include These Foods In Your Meal Planning:
- Include loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, concentrating on multiple different types and the full rainbow of colours
- Eat a range of different grains too, especially wholegrains and high fibre cereals. Include foods such as brown rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, oats, polenta, noodles, pasta etc.
- Lean meat, fish, tofu, eggs, legumes, beans, seeds, nuts
- Reduced fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, cottage cheese. Children under the age of 2 years should have full cream varieties
- Try to incorporate different nuts and seeds into your dishes too
Exclude These Foods From Your Meal Planning:
- Foods high in saturated fats such as pizza, deep-fried food, chips, burgers and fries, processed foods
- Sugary processed foods such as biscuits, cakes, sweets, chocolates, doughnuts, pastries and pies
- Foods with high levels of added salt
- Creamy dressings and sauces
Meal prep is an easy way to ensure you have nutritionally sound meals available to you when you’re hungry. It also prevents you skipping meals due to not having time to cook. It might take one or two cooking sessions to perfect your meal prep process, but once you’ve done it a few times, it will become a part of your routine.