I know it is the biggest cliché going, but I always try to eat healthily in January. Rather than being a conscious effort to loose weight, I think my body is just so over rich food that by January it is begging me for a smoothie. Last January I posted about batch cooking (here if you are interested) and this is still something I do on a regular basis. Having a freezer full of options you can grab and turn into a meal fairly easily is a great way to ensure you eat a healthy meal on the nights you just can’t be bothered. But today for the first time I am talking about meal prepping.
Rather than batch cooking sauces or fully made meals, to me meal prepping is more about having options available to just grab or pull together. What I mean is having quinoa which is already cooked and ready to be added to food each day, or having par boiled veg ready to just flash fry in a stir fry. It saves so much time and effort when it comes to making lunches and dinner and hopefully encourages you to eat healthily too. A lot of people who swear by meal prepping do so for an entire week, but I only do it for 3-4 days at a time. The reason for this being the food is just a bit passed its best anything beyond this. The whole piece of fruit or veg would last, but when it is chopped up it is just too quick to turn!
If like me you are not a fan of overnight oats, don’t be thinking you can’t still make something ready for the next day. I prep overnight oats the same as everyone else, but come breakfast time I take them into work and cook them. For my overnight oats I add a cup of oats, ½ a cup of almond milk, a drizzle of maple syrup, sprinkle of chia seeds and then all the cinnamon (I honestly add about a teaspoon to each serving, but this is a little crazy!). If you want something a bit different, I recommend adding some apple puree to the mixture. To make it, chop some apples, pour over boiling water until they are just covered and no more and then leave them to simmer for 30-45minutes. Once the apples are broken down blend the mixture until it is smooth. I then add cinnamon to this too! Adding this puree gives them an extra bit of taste. Another option is to add a mashed banana. Make a few jars of oats ready to just grab each morning.
As I like to mix it up, the breakfast I rotate with this is a good old smoothie. Normally I mix a handful of berries, a frozen banana, a handful of oats, as much spinach as I am feeling that morning, a teaspoon of spirulina and a teaspoon of flax or chia seeds. I blend this up and add water until I get the consistency I like. You can mix this up by adding cocoa powder and your plant milk of choice instead of the berries and water too. As this is a meal prep post and not a “what I put in a smoothie” post, the point is, whatever kind you make, I put all the dry ingredients in a tupperware and then in the fridge so it is ready to jut add water or milk in the morning. I make a few days worth at a time.
I actually quite like salad, but if it is not there and waiting will never eat it. If you are like me, on a Sunday night prep some lettuce, chopped cucumber, grated carrot, grated beetroot and whatever else you like in a salad. This is then ready for you to decant an amount from every day to create a salad. I like to top it with either some hummus, fried tofu, falafel or prepped quinoa and take it away to have at work. Remember to top your salads with nuts and seeds to get extra nutrients and healthy fats.
A lot of my dinner prep is done through my batch cooking, wether that is through having spices ready to add to some veg in a wok, chilli to put in a baked tattie or a sauce to add to some veg. But this still involves still chopping up some veg at night, which can sometimes seem too much like hard work. So to take this to the next stage, chop up mushrooms, onions, peppers and whatever veg you tend to use in food ready to simply add to a pan. If you like to eat veg which takes a little longer to cook, pre cook it! Brocolli and butternut squash can be par boiled ready to again just add to cooking when needed. Have them all prepped and put in sealed tubs or jars so you can just take what you want for each meal. Having them ready to go makes cooking or eating them way more appealing!
One of the most important things about eating healthily and sticking to it is snacking and eating what you want when you want it. Now I do not mean eating 6 bags of crisps and three chocolate bars because you want them. What I do mean is eating some chocolate or crisps if you want them, in moderation. I am a savoury fan so my go to is spiced nuts, easy to make by frying some nuts of your choice in a teaspoon of chilli powder, a teaspoon of garlic powder and a teaspoon of paprika. The pan will need some oil, but try to add as little as possible as you don’t want them to be greasy. I also love to coat chickpeas in a little oil and my fave spices (although normally peri peri salt) and then putting them in the oven for 20 mins to cook. Both the nuts and chickpeas are great to have as snacks or to have cooked and ready to throw on top of salads too.