Recently we chatted to Michelle Hunt, foodie and blogger at Peachy Palate, about her journey to health, happiness and HTML. You can check her very personal story and learn how her blog evolved here.
With so many of us short on time, we asked her to share her top ten meal planning and prepping tips with us.
Meal planning is key to supporting a wide range of goals. Whether your aim is weight loss or weight maintenance, making sure that you get the best nutrition possible, preventing stress, ensuring your children/significant other and good self pack a healthy lunchbox, avoiding processed, beige and costly food options, organisation is the key.
To some people meal planning might seem arduous and perhaps a little restrictive. But trust me, once you start you won’t stop. It’s life, eating, and the whole healthy balancing act made simple. Your grocery shopping becomes simplified, you save both time and money, and it can actually bring back some creativity in the kitchen. And all it takes is a little forethought.
- Start Small
Don’t overwhelm yourself with a whole week's worth of meal planning to start out with. Take a few days at a time to begin with.
- Plan Ahead
When cooking something new create intended leftovers. Freeze a few portions so that you have food to fill in the gaps or you meal over the following weeks.
- Grab a Sous Chef
Whether it’s to involve them in the chopping, dicing or simply the cleaning up, having someone on hand to help with the prep will not only make it a less arduous task but may also boost the fun factor.
- Not just about what you WANT to eat, but what NEEDS to be eaten
It’s great to introduce one or two new recipes per week, depending on the time you have your disposal (or perhaps the TV time you’re willing to give up to cook), but you also want to take in to account the food you have at your fingertips. Making use of the leftover veggies, the big bag of sweet potatoes you bought because there was a special bulk buy offer/remembering the side of salmon you have stuck in the freezer/figuring out the puzzle of cooking one batch slow cooker beef/using the leftovers to make a pie, tacos, a breakfast hash or lunch time salad toppers.
- Never start from ZERO
The whole point is to save you time in the kitchen. facilitating a week of eats to include an array of home cooked, healthy, nourishing, fresh wholefoods. What can you do in advance, be it in on a meal prep day or simply the morning of the intended meal creation. Chopping vegetables, creating spice mixes, remembering to take those intended leftovers out of the freezer...blitzing a whole head of cauliflower to serve as a grain free base for meals on the fly!
Take an inventory and work around what you’ve got initially, it’s the easiest place to start. Google for recipes to include the basic ingredients whether they’re fresh or pantry staples, it will help introduce some creativity.
- Go easy on a Monday / your first busy day of the week
Whenever your new week starts make that day an easy one. Choose to eat from the freezer, give yourself the time to prep other meals or perhaps do your big grocery shop to fuel a plan you’ve created the day previous.
- Use a template
When I work with new clients I always give them a sample meal plan. From there, the same empty template can be used to make the whole process of meal planning much more straightforward, easy to recreate and also to decipher and fabricate the supporting grocery shopping list to make things possible.
- Stick in some classic favourites
Have a few fall back options that easily slot in to the week. Meals that you know you can prepare with ease or that you simply know are crowd pleasers! Have a folder to store any recipes that you want to have at hand...go paper or virtual with Pinterest!
- Write yourself notes
When it comes to actually prepping the food stick labels on bowls or write directly onto cling film to remind yourself to keep “x” amount for the following meal/recipe.
- Embrace the garbage bowl
Have one night a week, maybe even two if you’re breaking your meal planning down into three or four day chunks, where you simply just throw a mixture of whatever leftovers are lingering in to bowl and embrace the diversity of flavours! They can sometimes be the most magical of meals, even if they’re not that aesthetically pleasing.
- Use your Food Processor Strategically
I said “10” but I couldn’t leave this one out! I use my food processor for everything - slicing, shredding, chopping, blending. Prep the the items that can easily be rinsed out with minimal residue, leaving the likes of sauce/pesto till last. And even when I’m making a batch of raw brownies I make sure to blitz my nuts first, with the dates blended to a paste second; otherwise the whole process becomes a sticky mess!
Do you have any meal planning or healthy eating tips to share? Are you organised in the kitchen or is it all a bit chaotic?