If you follow any “fitness gurus” on instagram, you’ll know meal prep is incredibly popular with athletes and those trying to keep lean and fit. There’s 100% a reason for that! Read below to find out more about the pros/cons of meal prep and how you can do it on a budget. This is aimed at older athletes and parents, however, you can still benefit and learn a lot if you’re younger and mum/dad do all the cooking.
The overall benefit of meal prepping is simply organisation ahead of time. I don’t know about you but if i’ve forgotten to bring lunch or not cooked dinner in advance, I’m infinitely more likely to reach for a ready meal or snack. Not only will you be able to plan exactly what food you’re going to eat, if done right, it’ll save you £££’s. For example, see this little infographic I put together below comparing the bog standard chicken + broccoli + rice meal prep (shopped in Tesco) vs some bough lunches.
So, not only would you be making healthy choices, but you’d also be saving yourself between £7 and £23 a week (and thats an extra few tumbling sessions!!).
But meal prep doesn’t have to taste awful or be the same thing everyday. There’s so many ways to change up the taste of what you eat. For example, different marinades/sauces, different seasoning, different veg or meats, changing up your salad dressings. It’s all about finding what you like! Me, I can eat chicken breast and anything with avocado… literally everyday. I love a good bit of salmon too! So I’d know to alternate between a few meats, so I’d buy bulk of that frozen and change up my sauces + preparation methods so I don’t get bored. Plus, it’s so easy to change up based on your goals! For example, swap rice for “cauliflower risotto” or quinoa, or go for a leaf based salad if you’re cutting down on carbs. If you’re trying to gain, have a container of unsalted nuts to snack on and have a protein shake with your meal.
So where’s the best place to start?
Figure out where you’re lacking. Do you find you always order takeaway for dinner? Or is it breakfast you always seem to skip? Me, it’s definitely lunch and dinner that suffer as I work in the evenings. Breakfast is easy because I have so much time.
(1) PLAN PLAN PLAN PLAN
Without a plan of what you want to eat… this is pointless. Yes it’s a lot of trial and error to find what you like. But if you go in with a plan, you can buy bulk and save those pennies for some new Nike Pros or an extra tumble class this season. The best way to do this is to write out what meal(s) you want to eat each day, write a list of groceries and stick to it and pick a day every week or every 3-4 days to cook ahead. Some printables can be found here: printable.
(2) Start small and build up
Suddenly cooking 21 meals at once is not only a huge task, but it’s massively overwhelming even for the most seasoned meal preppers out there. Cook lunch for 3 days ahead, then cook dinner too, then maybe some breakfast recipes. And build from there if you feel comfortable. Personally, when I do meal prep, I only do 3 days at a time as I’m quite wary of my food keeping well in the fridge.
(3) Pick meals that share ingredients
If you’re going to have a salad, make your protein source the same for all of them, use the same leafy greens and maybe change the dressing if you want some variety across a couple of days. TIP: leave the dressing in a small pot and then put it on right before you eat it, otherwise it’ll go off fast and be hella gross. Doing this will mean you save money and time in the store.
(4) Use your time efficiently
If you’re cooking your meats in the oven, use that time to make your salads or tidy up ahead of yourself. Or if you’re smart, use foil dividers so you can cook your meat in different marinades and sauces, whilst also saving on washing up time. Meal prep can be incredibly time consuming but only if you allow it to be.
Lacking some inspiration for recipes? Check out my Pinterest board on “Healthy Eating For Cheerleaders”. I’ll be constantly adding to this, so be sure to hit follow.
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Lots of Love,