Are you stuck in a cycle of having no food at home, and surviving on cafe-style lunches and late night Deliveroo? Are your days always jam-packed, leaving minimal time for chopping, cooking and cleaning? Maybe it’s time you considered bulk meal prepping. Luckily, we are huge fans of meal prep. You’ll get to enjoy meals that are nourishing, and actually excite you. You’ll get to experiment with new foods, and improve your cooking skills. Not to mention, you’ll save a bit of money for that summer holiday you've been dreaming of!
Ready to give it a go? Here’s our four-step guide for getting started.
Set aside some time each weekend to review your calendar, and plan your meals for the week. You need to consider:
- Are you prepping for lunches, dinners, or both?
- Are you preparing meals for just yourself, or multiple people?
- Are you happy to eat the same meal or ingredients a few days in a row, or will you need to prepare a variety of meals and ingredients in bulk?
- Which days will you rely on prepared meals, and which days will you cook fresh, or eat out?
- Which days will you be able to prep – just once on a weekend, or a second or third time during the week?
- Which day will you purchase ingredients, and how many trips will you make to the shops in a week?
- Do you need to purchase containers for storing your bulk-prepped meals?
- Once you have answered these questions, it’s time to choose your bulk-cooking persona!
We suggest you use one of these two styles:
1) Bulk-cook entire recipes (i.e. a Vietnamese chicken coleslaw, or a chickpea and vegetable curry with basmati rice)
- Positives: no extra cooking or cleaning on the nights you have this meal
- Negatives: Repetition and potentially flavour fatigue
2) Bulk cook only some elements? (i.e. A tray of roasted pumpkin and miso-marinated tofu to add to Buddha bowls, or poached chicken breasts to salads, stir fries and tacos)
- Positives: Can create variety with each meal, by mixing up other elements
- Negatives: more cooking and cleaning to do during the week!
Once you’ve completed steps one and two, the fun begins – choosing what you want to eat! Find new recipes, or stick with your favourites, but adapt the quantities to match how many serves you wish to prepare. Also – consider how many different complete meals, or ingredients, you would like to prepare for variety.
When planning what to cook, we suggest you also consider the healthy plate rule. You should be aiming for 50% of your meal to be low-carb vegetables or salad, 25% to be lean protein and 25% to be low GI carbohydrates.
Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to complete your meal-prep. Especially your first few times, it may take you a little longer than expected. Put on some music, and try to enjoy your time in the kitchen. If you’re stressed on anxious, it won’t be a positive experience, and you may not come back for round two!
Also, we recommend first-timers choose simple recipes to prepare. The Masterchef recipes can wait a few months! Once you’ve finished cooking, transfer your bulk cooked meals or ingredients to containers, and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat! Anything that won’t be consumed in the next 3-4 days should be frozen for food safety.
1. Zucchini Spaghetti Bolognese (serves 8)
Cook up 1kg of mince as Bolognese, and 400g (dry weight) of wholemeal spaghetti. For each serve, spiralise one zucchini and boil the zoodles for 2 minutes. Add to the pasta and top with sauce when ready to serve.
2. Chickpea and vegetable curry (serves 8)
In a large pot, sauté 1 large onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Add 8 cups of raw mixed vegetables (i.e. cauliflower, pumpkin, broccoli, celery, zucchini, carrot) to the pot, with. 1tbs curry powder, and ½ tbs each of cumin, paprika and turmeric. Add 1 cup of vegetable stock. Cover the pot and cook on high for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender. In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 600g tinned chickpeas, stir though. Meanwhile cook 2 cups of basmati rice according to packet direction. Serve curry with rice, fresh spinach leaves, and a dollop of natural yoghurt.
3. Turkey patties (serves 8)
Cook up 1kg of turkey mince with shredded carrot, zucchini, onion, garlic and fresh herbs (following a recipe) to create patties, and lightly pan fry. Vary how you serve these – for example, as a burger in a multigrain roll with salad fillings, with mashed sweet potato and broccoli, or with a quinoa salad.
4. Oat and dukkah crusted chicken tenders (serves 8)
In one bowl, whisk 1 egg. In another bowl, combine ½ cup quick oats with ¼ cup dukkah. Using 1kg chicken tenderloins, dip first into the egg wash, then into the oat and dukkah crumb. Coat the entire surface of each tenderloin with crumb. Lightly ban fry or oven bake. Serve as schnitzel with homemade wedges and salad, or slice on top of a greek salad.