Those who know me, know that while I have made massive changes to my lifestyle and attitudes surrounding food over the past 5 months I still very much struggle with portion control. Like seriously struggle. I also still really struggle with the convenience of takeout food (sushi is my weakness!). So I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past few weeks about people who have similar issues and what they have done to overcome them and this reading lead me into the wonderful world of ‘Meal Prep’! The concept behind meal preparation is a simple one; cook and prepare your weeks worth of meals and snacks on Sunday all the way down to prepping the portion sizes into individual containers. The idea is to prep 3 main meals (to be spread across lunch and dinners), your breakfasts and snacks so that each morning you simply need to open your fridge and grab your meals as you go. Yes, there are repeat meals (for example, you may eat one thing for lunch on Monday that you may also have for dinner on Wednesday), but the focus is ensuring healthy meals and correct portion sizes. Today was my first time experimenting with weekday meal preparation.
***Note*** I made a ton of rookie meal prep mistakes, most of which were made after step 4. I’ll highlight these mistakes so hopefully others can learn from them!
Step #1: First, I had to decide what my husband and I would be eating this week. I wanted to ensure that I was setting us up for success so I chose meals that weren’t too ‘out of the box’ but also ensure that we wouldn’t become bored of the meals as well. I chose to make a Black Bean Salad, a Thai Quinoa Salad and a Savoury Potato Stir-Fry (all recipes are below). For breakfasts, I chose a Tropical Overnight Oats recipe, and snacks are frozen cherries with greek yogurt and granola, chopped veggies and dried apricots.
Step #2: Before starting my grocery list I did a full fridge inventory. I’ve started using an app called ‘My Inventory Lite’ that helps me to keep track of what is in my fridge as well as expiry dates to help with over-buying and reducing food waste. I then completed my grocery list based on what was already in my fridge and what I knew I would use this week.
Step #3: I then prepped my food containers. It is best to do this before you go grocery shopping so you will know ahead of time if you need to purchase some extra containers or food storage bags. It is important to note that while you may be cooking all your food on your meal prep day, you may not necessarily be combining all your ingredients on that day. For example, for my Thai Quinoa Salad, the sauce and quinoa will be added the day of to ensure freshness and will therefore be stored separately in the fridge. **Honesty note: I had to send my husband back to the store because I forgot to buy snack bags**
Step #4: Prepping your meals! Now, here is where the mistakes began. What I should have done was prep each meal individually and by meal type; instead I prepped only by meal type and tried to ‘save time’ by prepping all vegetables are once and making the bulk of my meals at the same time. BAD IDEA. I ended up confusing ingredients as a result of constantly flipping back and forth between recipes and the result was I accidentally created a new meal I refer to as ‘Mexican Coleslaw’. Also, as a result of confusing ingredients I had to send my husband back out to the store for additional items. So, I highly recommend preparing each meal individually, it will save you time in the long run.
Overall, Meal Prep Sunday was a huge success! It saved us from ordering out at least two times, and had us both eating correct portion sizes. It was also nice not to have to do a ton of dishes each night as the clean up was minimal. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work up front, but totally worth it in the long run. I’m spending today prepping for my second meal prep sunday!
Tropical Overnight Oats:
1/2 cup of rolled oats
1 tbsp of chia seed
1 cup of almond milk (or any milk alternative)
1 tbsp of shaved hazelnuts
Combine oats, chia seed and milk in mason jar. Top with pineapple and shaved hazelnuts. Leave in fridge overnight and enjoy in the morning!
Thai Quinoa Salad
1 cup uncooked red quinoa
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
1 cup shredded or finely chopped carrots
¼ cup diced green onions
½ cup cashews or peanuts, chopped
¼ cup all natural peanut butter
2-3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon olive oil
Chop and combine pepper, onion, carrots and cabbage and place in refrigerator container.
Chop green onion and place in separate container. Do the same with your peanuts or cashews.
Combine your dressing ingredients and mix till creamy. Store in separate container.
You have two options with the quinoa; you can cook it and store it separately or you can cook it the night you are ready to eat the salad.
1 cup corn
1 orange bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1/2 red onion chopped
1 can black beans
1 clove of garlic
1 tomato chopped
1 avocado chopped
2 cups cabbage
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of chilli pepper
3 tbsp of lime juice
2 tsp of sea salt
hot sauce to taste (optional)
Lightly cook corn, beans, chopped peppers and onion in a skillet (a little olive oil is optional). I seasoned the combination with a bit of sea salt, black pepper and garlic. Remove from heat and combine with cabbage, and place in container.
Place chopped tomato and avocados in individual containers.
Combine dressing ingredients and place in container. **Note** divide dressing into 2 or 3 smaller containers so it’s already divided for lunches and dinners.
When ready to eat, combine and enjoy!
1 sweet potato
5-6 small red potatoes, leave skin on
1 yellow pepper
1 green pepper
1 red onion
6 button mushrooms
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
dry herb mixture: oregano, savory, rosemary, thyme, lavender, and fennel seeds
Boil your sweet potato and red potatoes. Chop and combine all ingredients (save the tomato and parsley) in large skillet. Add cooked potatoes to skillet. I used 1 tsp of my own herb mixture but you can combine the herbs in any quantity you desire. Chop tomato and parsley and place in separate containers for toppings.
Separate into 4 individual containers.