Top Tips For Meal Prep: Fitness and Time-Saving Ideas
It's that time of the week again, you’re ready to start your weekly meal prep. For some people this is the most important time of the week, for others they dread it! Either way, getting organised with your food helps you stay on track, saves you time and money and kick-starts your week in a positive way, so we promise it's worth it!
Whether this is your first time prepping meals or your 100th, it can feel daunting. Getting all the ingredients organised and deciding on what to cook can feel a little overwhelming. But don’t worry, we have some top tips to help you get organised and ready for the week ahead.
Before we look at our favourite tips, let's find out the purpose of meal prepping and how it can benefit your lifestyle.
What is the Purpose of Meal Prepping?
Before we dive into our top tips for meal prep, you may be wondering why you should meal prep at all.
Meal prepping allows you to eat your favourite meals all while controlling the portion size and ingredients, so you don't overindulge. Creating well-balanced meals that are prepared in advance allows you to stay on track with your fitness goals.
As well as being great for your fitness goals, meal prepping allows you to budget your spending on food shopping, reduce food waste, plan delicious meals in advance and save time on cooking.
Top Tips For Meal Prep: Fitness and Time-Saving Ideas
Before we dive in if you’re looking to learn more about nutrition for yourself and to help others, make sure you get qualified as a personal trainer. If you’re already a pt and looking to up your knowledge, check out our Level 4 in obesity and diabetes qualification. You can also try our Level 3 Nutrition refresher to top up your existing knowledge.
Here are our favourite tips for meal prep:
Set Aside the Time
This is a simple one but without it, your meal prep will be a disaster. First, start by choosing a day for your meal prep. Schedule it into your diary and make it your priority.
You may prefer to split your meal prep down into a few days or do it all in one day. If your meal prepping for your family, splitting it down into a few days will make it less of a chore and more of an activity. Get the kids involved and make it family fun.
If you just meal prep for yourself, then select a time that works around your schedule, stick on a podcast or some music and get cooking.
Start Prepping Small
Is this your first meal prep? Brilliant, you’re on your way to making a new, positive change in your life. The best way to start is by prepping small amounts of food. Start with a few days of meal prep rather than an entire week. This will help you ease into a new routine and try out what recipes work best for you!
By meal prepping small amounts, it will help you reduce food waste, avoid you getting bored with your meals and make sure you can fit it all in your fridge at home.
Portion Your Meals
One of the main reasons you might meal prep as a fitness lover is so you can control your intake of food. Whether it's weighing your ingredients if you’re working towards a body-building competition or creating meals so just so you can up your fruit and vegetable intake, meal prepping gives you more control over what you eat.
It's a great meal prepping your dinner, but if you don’t measure your portion size loosely, your fitness goals will take a lot longer.
If you’re not sure what you should be eating, get in touch with a personal trainer or nutritionist to get a professional opinion of your diet. Knowing how many calories you need to have, matching up to your lifestyle and workout plan, will take you closer towards your fitness goals.
If in doubt, just ask a professional!
Plan In Advance
Planning is the secret to success when it comes to meal prepping. That means organising what meals you’re going to prep. If you’re prepping your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, your shopping list is going to look rather long, so make sure you take the time to plan what you’re having for each meal.
Need some good fitness meal-prepping inspiration? Check out some of our favourite meal prep ideas:
Smoothies: Cut and freeze the fruit you will be using in your smoothie. You can also portion out any protein, sweeteners or powders you want into your shaker. All you have to do is add a liquid, your frozen fruit and extras into a blender and you have a great quick breakfast to go.
Buddha Bowls: If you work from home, buddha bowls are a super easy meal that is quick to prep and stays fresh. A buddha bowl offers a great balanced meal as it is packed full of veggies, protein and carbs. To start your prep, add all the following to your tupperware: cooked rice or sweet potatoes, nuts, protein i.e chicken, fish or vegan alternatives, along with lots of veggies (think all the colours of the rainbow) and a simple dressing or sauce. Buddha bowls are easy to prepare, simple to store and delicious to eat.
Curry: Curries are great for getting protein, vegetables and carbs into one quick meal. Batch cook a pan of your favourite curry and store it in the fridge for future dinner. If you don't want to eat it all at once, portion it up into freezer-safe tupperware for future meals to come. You can heat it up and serve it with fresh rice. It tastes just as good as when it was cooked. Simple and quick, the perfect meal prep.
These are just some simple ideas, but feel free to get creative. You’ll thank yourself later that you went inventive rather than the same meal you have every day!
Invest in Good Containers
Not only is investing in good containers great for your bank balance, but it's also wonderful for the environment. When buying tupperware, you’re looking for either glass or long-lasting plastic containers that fit in your fridge. They need to be sturdy to last a lot of meal prepping. By using long-lasting containers, you’re not contributing towards single-use plastic which is harming our planet!
We love containers that have secure clips and are airtight. Most supermarkets sell them, and as long as they are good quality, you’re on the right track.
Other containers to consider are shakers for your smoothies, different sizes of tupperware depending on what meal it is and multiple-compartment containers for different snacks e.g separate sections for your carrots and hummus.
As well as tupperware, you may want to consider investing in a bag that has meal prep compartments or a cool bag included to keep your food fresh for the day. This can be as simple as a picnic bag or freezer bag. Keep it simple and cost-effective.
Use Slow Cookers and Air Fryers
Batch cooking is the best way to save time when meal prepping. To maximise the time you save, you can use appliances like slow cookers and air fryers to help.
Using a slow cooker is great for stews, soups and one-pot meals. You can put all your ingredients in the pot and cook it for a set time then portion it out for the week to come. From vegan dishes to high-protein meals, slow cookers are great for every type of meal prep and great for saving time.
Air fryers have become a hit in the past few years. They allow you to cook your food without the use of oil and still get crispy and tender dishes. From healthy homemade sweet potato fries to flavourful veg to crispy chicken and even air fryer protein cookies, you can put anything and everything in it!
However, these appliances aren't essential to meal prepping. An oven and hob will do the same job! Maybe consider air fryers and slow cookers if you struggle to find the time to meal prep.
Shop the Seasons
Are you looking to keep the cost down when it comes to fruits and veggies for your meal prep? Then you need to shop for the fruit and veg available in that season. What we mean by this is shopping for vegetables or fruit that is currently being grown at a specific time of year i.e what fruit or vegetable is ripe in the summer in the UK.
This will avoid you from buying overseas products that are more expensive and of lower quality. By also buying your fruit and veg that's in season, you can reduce your costs, help support local farms and enjoy fresher produce.
Let’s take a look at some of the fruit and veg you can buy seasonally in the UK:
Examples of Summer Grown Produce:
Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Blackcurrants, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cherries, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans
Examples of Autumn Grown Produce:
Cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, lettuce, radish, potato, purple sprouting broccoli, red onion, rhubarb
Examples of Winter Grown Produce:
Apples, brussels sprouts, celery, chestnuts, cranberries, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips, pears, pumpkin, swede, turnips, watercress, winter squash, white cabbage
Examples of Spring Grown Produce:
Artichoke, beetroot, new potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, spinach, spring greens, spring onions
We hope our tips inspire your next meal prep day. Whether you’re starting a new habit of meal prepping or just needing some inspiration to spice up your old routine, we hope these tips help you stay on track. Happy cooking!
Help inspire others through nutrition by becoming a personal trainer.