Are you stuck in a ‘food rut’ – preparing the same, lack-lustre meals each day? Or, have you resorted to fast food, frozen meals or Uber Eats due to lack of time or inspiration in the kitchen? Perhaps you’re reaching for biscuits or chocolate in the afternoon because healthy snacks aren’t ready-to-go?
If this sounds like you, it’s time you considered meal prep. Don’t be put off by stories of slaving away in the kitchen for hours. You can achieve a lot in under 60 minutes, and improve the variety, taste and nutrition of your weekly menu. Let us show you how!
We have collected quick and easy meal prep tips for you to consider. You should be able to select a few from this list and complete them in under an hour. We hope you find them useful and impactful.
No time to sit down in the morning? You’ll love this suggestion. In a large bowl add 1.5 cups of rolled oats, 1 large grated apple, 1/3 cup chopped dried fruit (i.e. raisins, goji berries, apricots, dried dates), 1/3 cup chopped nuts (i.e. pecans, walnuts or almonds) and 1tsp cinnamon. Stir to combine, then pour over 1.5 cups of your preferred milk. Divide muesli mix into three or four containers, seal tight, then leave to soak overnight in the fridge. In the morning, grab a container of muesli, a spoon, a piece of fresh fruit, and out the door you go!
Bircher muesli can last in your fridge in an airtight container for 5 days. If you are super time-poor, you can even use a pre-prepared, no-sugar-added Bircher muesli mix. We love Carmen’s natural Bircher muesli.
Versatile, high protein, satisfying… boiled eggs are just the best! You can store boiled eggs (peeled or unpeeled) in the fridge for 7 days, so we suggest preparing in bulk on a Sunday, to last through the week. You can sub out the butter and jam, and sub in two boiled eggs and avocado on your wholegrain toast for breakfast – it’s just as quick and will keep you fuller and energized for longer. Boiled eggs make egg-cellent snacks as well!
We always breathe a sigh of relief, and so will you, knowing that the freezer is stocked with delicious, nutritious meals when there’s just no time to cook. A simple stir fry or curry may take you 30 minutes or less to prepare from start to finish - we suggest cooking a minimum of 4-6 serves, as these meals will last in your freezer for 3-6 months. You can even use frozen or pre-chopped vegetables, stir fry strips of chicken or beef, and/or family size microwave pouches of rice to save time. We love Five Tastes Stir Fry Shotz and Curry Shotz for flavour.
Probably our favourite bulk cook tip – preparing one or two large trays of roasted vegetables. Use to liven up your salads, wraps and sandwiches, or as a side dish alongside lean protein. To make your roast veggies extra tasty, drizzle with olive oil, season lightly with salt and use spices such as cumin, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric and/or chilli. We love pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum, eggplant, broccoli and mushrooms.
Tossing quinoa through your salads will add texture and interest, whist helping you to feel energized and fuller for longer. Not to mention, quinoa is an excellent source of plant-based protein, calcium and iron! We suggest cooking 1-2 cups of quinoa, which will last you up to one week in the fridge when stored separately, or 8 months in the freezer! Use homemade or commercial stock instead of water for added flavor, it makes a world of difference! You can also add fresh chopped herbs, garlic, lemon juice and zest, or other flavour alternatives.
Chicken breast is another versatile, bulk-cook favourite of ours. For a taste of the Mediterranean, coat 3-4 chicken breast strips with a marinade of 2tbs olive oil, 2tbs lemon juice, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 2tbs chopped parsley, 1tsp dried oregano, 1tsp paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper. For an Asian feel, coat 3-4 chicken breast strips with a marinade of 2tbs soy sauce, 1tbs oyster sauce, 1tbs lime juice, 1tsp sesame oil, 20g grated ginger and 2 cloves of garlic. For a healthy schnitzel alternative, dip chicken breast strips in egg-wash, then coat in a mix of oat bran and Dukkah seasoning. Lightly pan fry the marinated chicken strips for approximately 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Slice and add to sandwiches, wraps and salads, or serve alongside cooked vegetables.
Alternatively, poach your chicken breasts uncoated. You can add poached chicken to stir fries, soups and other meals. Cooked chicken will keep in your fridge for 4 days, or in your freezer for 4 months.
Many commercial dips are heavy on calories and salt, and use inferior oils (i.e. vegetable oil). Make your own, and enjoy larger quantities without the guilt! For a delicious homemade hummus, blend together 2x400g cans of chickpeas (rinsed well), 1 heaped tablespoon of tahini paste, 2tbs lemon juice, 1tsp cumin, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, and 1/3 cup water. Blitz together, adding more water, or 1-2tbs extra virgin olive oil for a smoother consistency. Homemade hummus can keep in your fridge for one week – if it lasts that long!
After making your homemade dip, spend 10 minutes chopping up a bunch of carrots, celery, capsicum and snow peas, for dipping. Adding a small amount of water in your storage container will keep the veggie sticks crisp and fresh.
Bliss balls can be a healthy alternative to chocolate for your afternoon or supper treat. However, many commercially made protein or bliss balls are high in calories, saturated fats and/or sugars. Or, they are incredibly expensive! It’s easy to make your own – for example: Blend 1 cup of oat bran, ½ cup LSA, ½ cup pitted dates, ½ cup natural protein powder, 1tbs natural peanut butter, 2tbs cocoa powder, 1tsp vanilla essence and 1-2 tbs water. Add more water if necessary, to reach a sticky, rolling consistency. Coat with desiccated coconut if desired. Bliss balls can keep in the fridge for 7 days, or freezer for 3 months.