Meal prepping is all about being organised. Picture: Instagram
Meal prepping is all about being organised. Picture: Instagram

Say good-bye to takeaways with these tips for meal prep that make home cooking a breeze

By Sacha van Niekerk Time of article published Jun 23, 2021

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MEAL prep made easy with helpful tips to get you started.

It’s easy to fall into a cycle of relying on fast food and takeaways, especially if you’re lazy when it comes to cooking.

As nice as chowing down on burgers, fries and pizzas may be, it’s an unsustainable habit financially and health-wise.

Learning to meal prep is a fantastic way to prepare for the week ahead with enticing meals that will excite you even on the last day.

The key is to be organised at the start so that in the end you can reap all the rewards, saving you money and time which are both hot commodities during this period of working from home.

Choose meals that suit you

From Pinterest to Instagram, TikTok and blogs, social media is rife with a range of amazing recipes to suit every sort of diet and flavour palette.

Look for recipes that sound appealing, include ingredients that are pantry staples.

If the ingredients are either available in stores or are in season, you’ll be more likely to make the dish because having to hunt down main ingredients is tricky and off-putting.

Also, don’t be afraid to substitute – if the recipe calls for broccoli and you’re more of a wilted spinach person, just sub it out and make the meal your own. Nothing is in stone, any recipe can be altered to fit your likes and needs.

Throw in a cheat meal

The beauty of home cooking is that it allows you to decide on what ingredients are used. From salt and sugar to oil variety, everything that goes into your cooking, and ultimately your body, is in your control.

This is precisely what makes having home-made cheat meals possible. Pizza, burgers, chips and burritos can all be remade healthily.

Without excessive amounts of salt, sugar, saturated fats and preservatives, these foods can definitely be incorporated into your diet.

Just make sure to pick fresh ingredients.

Include all the food groups

A balanced meal should consist of protein, carbs, veggies and (healthy) fats. Write down a list of five foods for each category that you enjoy eating and can easily shop for.

Eggs, canned, tuna, chicken breasts and steak for example would go under protein.

Broccoli, spinach, mixed vegetables and mixed salad can go under veggies. For carbs, pasta, rice, fruit, oats.

For fats – olives, nuts, nut butters, avocado and mayo are some examples.

Mix and match the food groups to create combinations you like so you can have variations throughout the week.

Containers

You will need enough jars and containers (with secure lids) to store the food in. It is important to have these prepped so that each meal can go into the fridge or freezer after it has been cooked.

Also, ensure that you clear out freezer and fridge space in advance as cooking, packing and clearing space and washing up in one day can become overwhelming and put you off. Organisation is key here.

Bulk cook

Sheet pan recipes and one-pot meals are your best friends.

Within minutes you can have a tray of meat and veg seasoned to perfection and tossed into the oven or air fryer for cooking.

To save on time, wash, cut and store the veg, meat, marinade and any sauces the night before so cooking day is easier.

Not all foods prep well

Certain foods like crumbed fish, salads and fruit taste best when fresh.

There’s nothing more off-putting than brown apples, a soggy crumb coat and limp veggies that have lost their flavour.

Fortunately, it’s super easy to make certain things on the day.

With all the other elements already prepped beforehand, reserving 2 – 15 minutes to add fresh elements on the day is quick and easy.

Label

You need to know the date food was made/cooked so you can safely keep track of expiry dates.

There are certain containers that allow you to slip paper labels into a slot or punch in the date.

However, using a whiteboard marker, sticky notes or sticker labels would work just as efficiently.

Not only is it a good idea to write down the date but also include the contents of what is inside so that if it is frozen and the container frosts up you’ll be able to know instantly without having to guess.

Light prep

Meal prep does not have to be as over-the-top as it appears on blogs and Instagram accounts.

Simple prep like boiling pasta and rice beforehand, washing and chopping veggies, getting all the storage containers washed and ready will make cooking so much easier and that is the whole point.

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