We all know that healthy eating is a fundamental part of any physical goal, whether you want to lose weight and shape up, transform your body, or just enjoy a longer life!
But what is this mythical “food prep” that fitness people talk about? It certainly isn’t all about carrying plastic tubs of chopped chicken and boiled broccoli everywhere you go. True “food prep” is simply the art of preparing healthy meals and snacks to make life easier for yourself.
I’ve been doing food prep in one form or another for decades now. It doesn’t only help me meet my calorie goals and stay in reasonable shape as a busy Dad and business owner. It also saves me time and money. Here’s my best food prep advice.
1) It doesn’t have to be full meals
Many people think “food prep” has to mean preparing entire meals and arranging them in tubs to take to work. You certainly can do this. But food prep can also mean chopping fruit or raw veggies, batch cooking pasta sauce, baking a load of chicken breasts, or cooking up a big bowl of grains.
2) Plan before you prep
Prep your prep! What I mean is, write out a list of meals and snacks before you start chopping and cooking. The aim is making life simple, not overwhelming yourself (or your fridge) with elaborate food prep.
3) Batch cook
This is one of my favourite ways to meal prep. Get your slow cooker or a big casserole dish and create your go-to “one pot” meal. It might be chili, tray bake, casserole, or lentil daal. Throw it all together, leave it to cook, and then portion out into freezer-proof containers.
4) Use leftovers or cook more
Get into the habit of portioning out leftovers (or purposefully cooking an extra portion) whenever you have time to make a home cooked meal. Not only will this give you a very quick meal to reheat, but it will prevent you from overeating!
5) Scale up your shop
Successful food prep starts with the weekly shop. If you know you’re going to make 8 portions of chili, be sure to have enough meat, vegetables, beans and canned tomatoes. If you want to chop a big bowl of fruit salad, get enough different kinds of fruit.
6) Set aside the time
Food prep absolutely does not have to take a long time, and the more often you do it the faster you’ll get. Set aside 60-90 minutes once or twice a week. Go in with a plan. Get all your ingredients, utensils, and storage tubs ready. And make smart use of baking trays, ovens, and slow cookers to streamline the process.
7) Stock your kitchen
It’s a good idea to make sure your kitchen cupboards always have the ingredients you’ll use in your regular food prep sessions. For most people, this means beans, lentils, canned tomatoes, rice or other whole grains as well as stock and seasonings. Here’s a blog I wrote about heathy kitchen staples.
8) Use simple recipes
The whole point of food prep is making it easier for you to eat healthy food (easier than it is to order or cook unhealthy options, in fact!) So keep it simple at every stage. This includes choosing simple recipes you know you’ll enjoy, and saving them somewhere so you can hit the ground running at your next food prep session.
9) What about the calories?
If you count calories or track macros, here’s a great tip. Write down the calories (and macros if you need them) for your entire batch cooked meal. Then divide by however many portions you create. Input this meal just once into MyFitnessPal and give it a name you’ll remember. This way, you can find the meal every time you eat it. Ideal if it’s something you will be eating for weekday lunches or busy day dinners.
‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’