Episode 3. Meal Prep 101
Meal Prep is one of those things that can make or break how successful a week of eating well goes. Tune in for some hints and tips to make it run as smoothly as possible.
Meal prep is about making good food choices as easy as possible.
Get some great hints and tips, regardless of how busy you are, or how little you like to cook.
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Meal Prep 101
Jill Lister Martin 00:00
Welcome to the Fit Chick health coach podcast. I’m your host, Jill Lister Martin. Join me as I help women up level their lives through food and fitness, interviewing experts deep diving into my own adventures and finding a balance between motherhood life, a sweet tooth for licorice and wine. Because let’s face it, life is messy and sometimes a little bit overwhelming. Fit Chick is about finding that balance and inspiring women by giving them the tools to take control of their own health and feel amazing. Let’s get started.
Hi, I’m Jill at your Fit Chick health coach and today I wanted to talk to you about meal preparation. Now I feel like meal prep is one of those things that will either make or break your healthy eating habits and it’s about making healthy food choices as easy as possible. It’s all well and good to have a food plan, then you’re sure you’re going to stick with it and eat clean and do all the good things this week. But you get home on a Tuesday night after a busy day at work and you’ve picked up somebody from karate and drop somebody up at ballet, and the traffic was slow and as you walk in the door at the last thing you want to do is cook. So, what are you going to do? Whatever is easy, reach for the frozen pizza or takeaway or whatever your go to is.
And it’s important to make it as easy as possible for yourself because life does get in the way of best laid plans. meal planning and prepping will save you time, it will save you money, and it will save you brain space later in the week. First of all, you can either make a meal plan for the entire week or start at the start of the week. But if that sounds way too organized, just playing the day before, know what you’re going to eat tomorrow so you don’t have to decide and when it comes down to it, we like to take the easiest option. It’s just human nature. If the decisions already made ahead of time, we don’t need to choose, make sure that you actually have a plan. Eating healthy isn’t a plan.
Breakfast is usually a no brainer for most people. But it’s good to know what you’re going to have for lunches and dinners even just during the workweek and keep it simple, this isn’t a restaurant. Having the same thing for lunch five days in a row will not kill you. Or if you’re the kind of person that think that might actually kill you, have a bit of a variation on a theme, cook up a heap of protein like chicken or eggs on Sunday, and throwing different vegetables or salads each day. Choose a day of the week to do meal prep, make it a part of your routine. So, you know that every Sunday or every Wednesday, you’re going to prepare food for the week.
In our house meal prep Sunday is a thing and it doesn’t have to be Sunday, it’s just your one day a week that works for you. Or you might have two smaller days of cooking. Start with your meal plan for the week, do a break, grocery shop, and then cook up a couple of meals that you can keep ready to go in the fridge. Now, I don’t always cook at home meals, particularly in summer, I just like to chop up all my veggies ready to go and throw them in salad when it’s time. It’s like having your own Subway sandwich bar in the fridge. They’re all chopped up in their little containers and if you are time poor, it is absolutely okay to embrace convenience foods and when I say that I mean the vegetable kind.
There was a time I probably would never have really considered all those prepackaged salads or frozen vegetables, probably pre chilled or something crazy and I’m not sure what was going through my head. But it’s okay to just try and be better rather than perfect. Obviously, not all prepackaged salads are equal. While I was laying in the States, I had a pretty delicious, prepackaged salad with spinach and crystallized almonds and strawberries and some sort of sugary dressing. Don’t get me wrong, it was really tasty and it was great to eat in my hotel room without a kitchen.
But I’m not deluding myself that it was the healthiest option, but I ate leafy greens and fruits, so I take that as a win. But even just using the prepared chopped ingredients in those packs are a great option. These days one of those bags of pre chopped Herbs, Laurel coleslaw, or something that you had the dressing to later, a pretty standard in our fridge. But it’s what you add to the pre chopped vegetables that will make or break your diet and good fats are really important in any diet. So, don’t write off the dressings either. But actually, look at the ingredients. Look at the fats and the carbs and assess how well it fits in with your plan. Or, like I mentioned with your own sandwich, but pre chop all your in salads. It’s easy, it’s probably cheaper and you’ll have a whole lot more ready to go.
Another handy idea is to actually have the portions ready to go. Once you’ve cooked up your batches of food for the week divide it into containers or bowls and keep them in the fridge. First of all, it’s convenient when you actually go to eat them and not have to dish it out each time. But if you are actually watching your portion sizes, then not having to guess how much you’ve already had. Knowing that you’ve cooked up four meals worth and divided it equally between them is much easier than actually guessing each time you go to eat. When you cook dinner, cook up extra portions and keep them in the freezer, it is just as convenient as the frozen pizza, but you know it’s within your realm of your healthy eating plan.
And easy to make ahead of time meals could include things like roasted veggies and this is a regular one in our house. They’re really good to eat hot or cold, we throw them in salads, or my boys take them to school as sort of sandwiches in lunch boxes. I’ve used them in dips or snacks. Generally, I just preheat the oven to about 200 degrees and I dice up a heap of vegetables at about the same size, so they cook evenly. Now let’s put them in a Tupperware bowl with the lid and a drizzle olive oil and I shake them all up and season them with things like Italian Herbs or Moroccan spices or something. Sometimes I spray them when they’re on the tray. But put your slow cooking vegetables like potato or pumpkin on the iron tray so they can be left in longer. But the length of time required really depends on the size of your veggies that you’ve chopped, but this is also a really good time to experiment with vegetables.
See what is good to roast, roast veggies actually go beyond carrots and potato and pumpkin or whatever you ate when you’re a kid. So, maybe try sweet potato, cobra, try parsnips are beetroot, zucchini, cauliflower, tomatoes, yams, capsicum, onions, Brussel sprouts, squash, garlic cloves or mushrooms. roasting actually rose up quite a different flavor of food. So, you might be surprised about what vegetable you actually like. I never liked Brussel sprouts growing up, maybe because they’re always soggy and gross. But I’ve actually discovered there okay roasted. Give it a try. You may be surprised.
Quiches and frittatas are also a great go to and really easy option to change out by putting different fillings in it. I usually cook them without a pastry base so they’re more like an egg muffin and lowering carbs if that’s what I’m doing at the time. Sometimes I cook them in muffin trays or just in a slab and cut it up depending on how lazy I’m feeling about cleaning the muffin tray and frittatas are another place to drop your roasted or frozen vegetables. Don’t forget to try leafy greens and fresh herbs or diced up to add a bit of flavor. Cheese or Feta, olives, sun dried tomatoes or pesto pack a great punch. Frittatas are the one place I’ll throw in tinned asparagus if I have it on hand and they’re also really versatile. They’re great for any meal of the day including breakfast on the go and they’re a really good nonmeat source of protein. Though throwing in a bit of ham or salami might sound amazing to you. What I want is for you to be an adventurer in the kitchen and try something new.
Few other obvious but pretty great options are curries. They are a great meal to have on hand. They’re easy to pack full of vegetables and protein and they’re delicious. A big pot of soup isn’t an easy option to have going especially on a miserable wind today. Like today, I don’t know if you can hear the wind and the storm hopefully not, it is definitely a soup day here. Pasta and vegetable baked are always good. A few food preps hints. Keep washed and chopped vegetables ready to grab and go. Make double batches whenever you do a cook up and keep extra serves in the fridge or freezer. Precooked grains for the week. Create a master list of recipes that you can reference when you can’t think of what to cook. That’s a big one not knowing what to cook. Prepare your meat or protein to throw into lunches.
There is nothing wrong with prewashed and chopped vegetables or premade sauces. So, keep frozen veggies and fruit in the freezer so you always have some on hand. Boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge to have as a snack or to add to a meal as protein and repurpose your leftovers. Add extra ingredients or eat them interact and don’t forget to plan for snacks, healthy snacks are always good to have on hand. Today’s homework, if you choose to take it out, choose one or two meals to make a big batch of and have ready for the week to eat. Let us know what you made by either tagging me on Instagram at the FitChickhealthcoach or let us know in the Facebook group. If you want more information, we’ve actually got a free downloadable cheat sheet for super easy meal packs. Just go to http://www.FitChickhealthcoach.com and it’ll be on the homepage or in our previous section. Depending on when you come across this podcast. The cheat sheets about having quick and easy ideas to have healthy meal options ready to grab and go and includes easy modifications to change it up so you don’t feel like you’re always eating the same thing. But like I said, you don’t need to be perfect. A bit of a plan is better than no plan. Make life easier for yourself and plan to succeed by preparing ahead of time. Have a fabulous week and I will talk to you soon. Bye.
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