Are you feeling a little overwhelmed with every single 'Meal Prep' post on social media right now? SO many people are.. you're not alone! And guess what... I used to feel overwhelmed by it too!
Every single night, Mitch and I would argue on what we felt like for dinner...and this conversation would go "yes, no...no... whatever I don’t mind...well what do you feel like?? You're not even helping!!" and that merry go round of a conversation would start at around 5:30pm when we finished work, and we'd finally be off to the store at 6:15pm, only to start dinner late and stress cook.
I hated this, but I really, really didn't want to meal prep and eat out of a container.
It all seemed too overwhelming for me, and I'm not a person who loves pre-cooked foods 2 or 3 days later, it's just not something that I love (my friends however, LOVE doing this!).
So, I had to think, how can I make meal prep work for me and my life/situation?
Firstly, let's get down to what I think meal prep is and what we 'think' it is.
I think people believe it's ONLY for people who want to eat pre-cooked meals.. like cooking every one of their meals from scratch, having a LOAD of Tupperware containers AND being organised enough to have all the lids.....THIS ISN'T REALISTIC (I mean the lids bit.. literally no one is that organised hahaha).
Do you want to know what I believe? I believe that meal prep is whatever you can do in the kitchen to help you prepare for the week ahead. This can be anything from organising your meal planner, cleaning out your fridge, cleaning your kitchen, chopping a few veggies, making a few marinades - it does NOT have to be as extensive as cooking every single meal.. but it CAN be (if that’s what suits you).
So here are my 3 BIG TIPS that I use myself to make meal prepping work like a charm in my kitchen. Then I'm going to show you exactly what I did last weekend that made my meal prep super simple & completely stress free!
1. Slow It Down & Take It All In
This is one for anyone who’s got any of my BARE Guides – this is so important! Taking your time to really look at the information, soak up all the knowledge, read through the recipes and understand how it all works can make a world of difference for your stress.
I always point people in the direction of the resources because they are your best help when it comes to information that can help you along your journey. For example, BARE Lean has pages 31 and 31 dedicated to the most frequently asked questions about meal prep, and also has almost 10 pages worth of cooking resources to help when you’re in the kitchen.
Start here, take it slow, take notes if you need. Make it work for you and how you’d like to move forward with meal prep.
2. Don’t Let It Consume You & Break Up The Effort
One thing I wanted to keep for meal prep was my weekends! I first tried to meal prep everything on a Sunday, but found myself feeling like I was losing the last day of the weekend where I get to spend with Mitch or my family (or my cute little niece!).
Fridays: I meal plan, I write out all the meals I’d love and a shopping list to attach (usually it’s a very simple one, with just fresh fruit and meats). I love having the BARE Lean portal so that I can have two tabs open, my recipes and then the planners. I write my meals in the planner and do the shopping list at the same time – super easy!
Saturdays: If I’ve forgotten to meal plan on Friday, I’ll do it Saturday morning haha! I then will go grocery shopping in the morning, come home and quickly throw everything into the fridge/away into the pantry and then call it a ‘future Leah problem’ and slowly back away from the kitchen (it works wonders haha).
Sundays: Sunday morning I’ll get up, quickly lightly prepare some of the recipes I’ll be making from Monday to Wednesday, or any of the foods that I’m making in bulk (i.e pasta sauces etc).
Wednesdays: If I need to pop to the shops again for things I’ve forgotten or change of mind, then I’ll do it Wednesday after work! That way I can grab new ingredients, and prep anything I need to for Thursday, Friday and Saturday (but it’s no longer than 1 hour and I’ll do it while I’m waiting for dinner to cook, nothing special!)
3. Keep It Simple
There is no need to have something different every single day, so don’t feel bad for having the same breakfast if you’re a creature of habit, or the same lunch/dinner. Again, it’s up to YOU! If you’re someone who doesn’t want a long cooked breakfast, choose a simple recipe like PB on toast (bare lean!) or something like an overnight oat, that you can prepare and leave in the fridge for a grab and go.
Remember, whatever suits you!
My Go-To Strategy Last Weekend
Okay so now we’ve got those fabulous tips out of the way, let’s get into what I did last weekend!
Here is a screenshot of my planner..
As you can see, VERY simple breakfast, lunches and snacks. I do this because I’m typically at work, I don’t want to heat up food and I’m always in a rush in the morning so I don’t want to cook things – so this works absolutely perfect for me. As for dinner, I have something different every night but below you will see how I prep for those meals!
My Prep List:
- TUNA SALAD: Chop veggies (not tomatoes or anything ‘soft’) for salad. Get tuna cans and rice packets ready.
- BIRTHDAY CAKE SLICE: Make this into muffins, portion out 6 for the week and freeze the remaining for a grab and go next week or the week after.
- GLAZED PORK: Marinate meat.
- CHICKEN SCHNITZELS: Crumb chicken, if you can make in bulk – then do that!
- CARBONARA: Instead of chopping veg, I’ll pop all ingredients on a bowl, ready to be cut on the night (minimal effort here, but saves me rummaging through the fridge for ingredients! I don’t cut anything that’s more than 2-3 days because it’s hard to keep as fresh as possible (that doesn’t mean you have to do the same, it’s absolutely fine to cut for 4-5 days in advance, but I’d prefer to shorten that time).
- MONGOLIAN BEEF: Marinate Meats. Now, as you can see this is for Thursday – So I will marinate it and pop it in the freezer and take out Thursday morning. This isn’t necessary – but I don’t like leaving uncooked meats in the fridge for more than 2-3 days.
So as you can see, I’m not fully making anything! Just small, easy steps that will help me minimise time spent chopping and cleaning mess during the week, and way easier for me to get home and have a meal on the table in 20-30 minutes.
THIS is why I love meal prep – because I found a way that it works for ME!
How Can You Apply It?
Each time you look at your BARE Meal planner, just think ‘how could I make this meal eaiser for me to cook when it comes to dinner-time” – that way you can be less overwhelmed during the week, feel WAY more organised and then you can slowly slowly build on that momentum.
OR, you can ditch any sort of meal prep all-together and just smash out every meal you like on a daily basis – you do YOU!
I hope this helps and gives you a small insight into how I make meal prep work for me, and that it helps you in the kitchen in the coming weeks!
Don’t forget we have the BARE challenge coming up on November 2nd that you could put your new meal prep skills to good use! WOOO!! You can find more information about the challenge HERE.
LOVE LEAH XX