I have had some lovely comments about my meal prep and loads of questions so I thought I better give the people what they want. Brace yourselves this is going to be a biggy!
I'm going to talk you through my thinking, processes and adaptations because let's face it... we all have different tastes. So, what to buy? This was my first hurdle. Why should it have to cost a fortune? Meal prep is meant to make your life easier. I always buy fresh meat and veg from @BuryMarket then I get to decide what goes in and on it. This then let's me know what I'm putting in my body, something that I'm paying more attention to lately.
First things first... lets shop! To make things easier, I'll split the ingredients into dishes then if you don't like them you can switch them. The list makes meals for two people for a whole week, if you need more or less, just fiddle with the numbers : ) I usually go for low fat, lean and wholegrain options where possible.
1 clove garlic
300g dried mixed beans (make sure they have been soaked overnight)
250g passata or chopped tomatoes
1 clove garlic
350g cauliflower (Tesco and Asda have pre-packed cauli rice)
125g bell pepper
1 stock cube
8 cherry tomatoes
Carrots (cut into batons)
Now that your shopping is done, don't put it away. Seriously! I know it goes against every instinct you have but you'll only be going in and out of the cupboards and fridge and it gets tiring quickly. You will need a lot of space and your containers ready to go. I love £-stretcher for tubs, they have standard rectangular for lunches, tall slim ones that don't leak and are perfect for your soups as well as smaller round ones that are snack sized.
Lamb & sweet potato
Ham & egg salad
300g lamb leg steak
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 sprigs rosemary
500g lean steak mince
300g sweet potato
1 tbsp oregano
120g smoked salmon
125g bell pepper
100g fat free natural yoghurt
100g salad leaves
2 large eggs
6 slices of cooked ham
The soup is an easy one, slice all your ingredients, they don't have to be too fine as it all gets blended any way, sauté in the oil until the onion starts to go translucent. Add your stock and leave on a low heat before blending. Whilst it's simmering, you can also boil your eggs in another pan so they can cool down with enough time to add to your salad.
Once boiled, a fresh egg lasts up to a week if kept chilled and in it's shell so it's a great one to have in your meal prep bank. Preparing the salad is quick and easy, slice everything up and put in a tub... job done! I like to use a vegetable peeler for the carrots so I get thin ribbons rather than chunks. Make sure you keep your dressing separate though otherwise your leaves go soggy quickly.
I've been banging on about getting more protein in my diet and preparing meals in advance lets me do that really easily. I love variety in my meals so that I'm not eating the same thing every day or every week. I always start my prep with meats as I don't want them staying out for long in room temperature. Last week I went for a classic lemon and rosemary with the lamb but I usually alternate between my moroccan meatballs and the recipe above.
I pre-heat my oven to 180oc so it can get up to temperature then I cut my lamb steaks into smaller pieces and throw the remaining ingredients together in an oven-proof dish so it has some marinating time while I prep my meatballs. The most important thing to remember about the meatballs is making sure you combine the ingredients using your hands so that you change the structure of the meat and it binds together. This means you don't then have to add egg or breadcrumbs to bind. Once they're mixed and shaped pop them in another oven dish and put them in the oven with the lamb for 20mins.
I usually serve the lamb with cauliflower rice as I think it works really well as a light dish for lunch. I like the meatballs with simply mashed sweet potato and I slightly under-cook the broccoli so that it isn't over cooked after being re-heated for lunch. You can also add some halved cherry tomatoes for moisture when re-heating so your meatballs don't go dry.
Next up, the beans. These take a while to cook so get them on as soon as you can. Dice your onion, chilli and garlic so you don't get huge mouthfuls of any of them, throw in your passata, beans and seasoning then leave to do its thing on a low heat. Simple right? I usually serve with cauliflower rice for a vegetarian option. It still packs a protein punch without meat but if you really need meat to make a meal like JB does, add some bacon lardons to your bean mix.
I was first introduce to cauliflower rice by one of my besties. Now don't get me wrong, I was sceptical to say the least because I don't like cauliflower, but... when it's blitzed into small 'grains' it takes on a whole new flavour and texture. It becomes a really good carrier of flavour and is really versatile. I particularly love it with onion, courgette, pepper, mushroom and cherry tomato in it. I add a vegetable stock cube crumbled in and some black pepper to season and that's pretty much it. It's a bit of a stir fry job this but only takes 4mins. Quicker than any boil in the bag I've ever come across so no excuses!
I absolutely love this salmon pasta dish. It's more of an assembly job but it's quick and simple to make. I use wholegrain pasta for a better fibre intake and use fusilli or conchiglie so the mixture wraps around the twists or sits in the shells. The only thing you need to cook is the pasta. Once that is done I rinse through with cold water to prevent sticking, break up my salmon and mix it all with the yoghurt and bell pepper. As the salmon can be salty, the only seasoning I add is a little black pepper to taste. I would eat this one cold because the yoghurt and salmon won't like being heated.
Last but not least, the snacks... I have a sweet tooth and have found that during the working day fruit usually sorts out my cravings. My snacks vary as to what is in season and what I can get hold of. Last week it was low fat yoghurt (Lidl do an awesome vanilla with dark chocolate sprinkles for less than 100 calories) melons, mixed berries and grapes. I just slice them up and store in my tubs then grab what I fancy in the morning.
If you haven't bought into the idea of meal prep then do it! Seriously. For the sake of 2 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday, I have cut down on the time I spend faffing in the mornings before work and have taken out the majority of naughty snacks I used to have because they were convenient. I weigh my lunches then label the lids so I know I'm getting the correct amount of macro-nutrients and calories that my body needs.
All the meals can be stored for a week and as long as you re-heat until piping hot you'll be good to go!
I hope you give this a try. If you do let me know how it goes : )