This week, I took the plunge and filmed a video containing my top meal planning tips for my youtube channel. But, as I know many people prefer to read a blog post than watch a video, I thought I'd write down my key points and have a little chat with you in this blog post. If you're interested in giving the video a watch, you can view it here.
Getting right into it...
1. Take inventory of what you already have in your cupboards, fridge + freezer.
Using what's already in your home not only saves time and money, but can also help you branch out and try new recipes. If you've had a jar of something in the cupboard for a while, but haven't been sure what to do with it, now's your chance. Don't let it gather any more dust, put it to use this week by trying something new.
2. Include meals you're craving so that you prevent opting for a takeaway.
It is so easy to stick to the same meals, week in week out, but we all know what that leads to... the impulsive (unwanted) midweek takeaway. Each week, I make an extra effort to cook something extra yummy so that I have something other than meal prep to look forward to. I like to call these fake-aways as the inspiration usually comes from whichever takeaway/meal out I'm fancying when I begin prepping my meals. I have to admit that my air fryer has made this so much more fun, a few of my favourite fake-aways are:
- Indian - curry, onion bahjis, naan bread - all made from scratch.
- Stir-fry - lots of veg, egg noodles, protein of choice + soy sauce.
- Nando's - peri-peri butterfly chicken breast, halloumi slices, garlic bread and spicy rice.
- Burgers - low fat beef mince meat with onions + spices, low fat cheese + home made buns (or shop bought).
- Fish + Chips - battered cod (haven't yet ventured into doing this myself), home-made chips + mushy peas/gravy.
- Sweet and Sour Chicken - I have a beautiful baked sweet and sour recipe, if you want it, send me an email and I'll pass it over to you!
3. Browse recipe books/websites + ask for recommendations from friends and family.
Because I understand just how important recipe inspiration is, I provide all of my clients with fresh, healthy recipes every month. You could also browse the internet or invest in some cook books, another idea could be to send a message to all of your friends and family, asking them to share their favourite recipes with you. You could be specific and ask for quick/healthy/vegetarian recipes or just ask what their favourite meal is and create a healthier version yourself. Recently, I've been loving finding and bookmarking recipe inspiration on Instagram. I recommend setting up a separate collection on your Instagram so that when you save recipes, they're all in one place to come back to on planning day.
4. Prep a few portions ahead for the freezer.
Some people just hate meal prepping, and I get it, I go through phases too. This is why you need to be smart with your planning and prepping. Cook ahead, and have some meals prepped in the freezer. I almost always have a few portions of lasagne or bolognaise in my freezer, as well as breakfast prep like pancakes and burritos that I've made ahead. You don't have to do a huge meal prep day either. If you're cooking on Monday, cook an extra portion for Tuesday, and then another for the freezer. Pop a meal in the slow cooker whilst you're relaxing on Sunday, have one portion that night and portion the rest into the freezer for a later date. On this note, keeping frozen fruits and vegetables in the freezer is a lifesaver, even if you don't use them every week. Having frozen vegetables ready to add to any meal may even save you a few calories snacking between meals.
5. Prioritise your protein and fibre.
When I speak about prepping and planning, a lot of people just don't know where to start. If you've followed me for a while, you'll know that I always recommend prioritising protein and fibre. These are the nutrients that are going to keep you fuller for longer throughout your day, are often neglected in the modern diet, and are the easiest nutrients - in my opinion - to base your meals around. Choose your protein (i.e. meat, halloumi, eggs, fish, yogurt) and then pick your fibre source (i.e. beans, lentils, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds). Once you have these two, you can fill in the gaps with your fats and carbs based on your goals for the day.
I hope these tips have helped, if you have any more to add, feel free to comment them down below and feel free to email me any questions.
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