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Streamlining Your Nutrition: Mastering Healthy Meal Prep

Guest Writer: Maria King (co-founder of Junius, www.wearejunius.com) Functional Medicine Expert.



Many of us arrive in January wanting to make healthy changes to our diet and lifestyle habits. This could be for many reasons, from having had an overly indulgent December to simply wanting to start fresh and make improvements to health.



Prepping healthy meals in advance can be a real game changer in the quest for a healthier lifestyle.


Meal prep is simply the practice of planning and preparing meals in advance. It is a valuable strategy for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for many reasons, and not just reasons related to nutrition. Let’s go through each of these now.




Benefits of Healthy Meal Prep


1. Time-Saving and Convenience: Most of us in this modern day have packed schedules each week and may feel that “there’s just no time for meal prep!”, when actually, planning and preparing meals in advance can save a significant amount of time during your week, freeing up time and space for other activities or practices that you also want to fit in.Investing just a little bit of time, say twice a week, in preparing some healthy foods and/or meals, can be truly game changing, not only for your time, but to prevent you from needing to resort to fast food or unhealthy convenience options.


2. Money-Saving Financial Benefits: Meal prepping can also help you save money. Buying ingredients in bulk and preparing meals at home is often more cost effective than buying pre-packaged convenience foods or dining out for your lunch when at work or just out and about, for example.


3. Less Stress: Knowing that you already have healthy foods and meals prepped and ready to use can reduce the stress associated with last minute eating decisions. This can contribute to overall mental well-being and make it easier to stick to healthy eating habits. It IS possible to make our day to day lifestyles easier and feel less pressured, and meal prep is certainly one tool you should take advantage of.


4. Consistency: When it comes to optimising your health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consistency is key. By consistently eating balanced, nutritious meals, you provide your body with the necessary nutrients it needs for optimal function. Of course there can and should be room for some flexibility and indulgence, but it’s what we are consuming or doing 80% of the time that matters most. If for the most part you plan and prep healthy meals, you will be doing your body and mind and major service.


5. Increased Nutritional Value: Meal prepping allows you to have better control over the nutritional content of your meals. You get to choose the foods and their portion sizes, based on your own specific nutritional goals. For example, you might be wanting to increase your protein intake at each meal and find that shop bought salads and meals simply do not allow you to hit your goals. The same could be said for carbohydrate, fat, and vegetable intake goals.By planning your meals in advance, you can ensure that you're getting a good balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), which is essential for overall health and energy.






Top Tips for Speedy, Healthy Meal Prep


Now that you have some great reasons for incorporating meal prep into your week, grab some quality, airtight storage containers, cling film, and your favourite music or podcast!


Once a week, sit down and make a list of all the days that you will need meals or pre-prepped food items for. Loosely plan what these meals and or snacks would be, and then make a shopping list of all the foods and items you’ll need. Have your shopping delivered or purchased on the same day each week and you can just repeat this order each week, give or take a few items.


Decide on a couple of days each week where you will dedicate 30-60 minutes to prep some foods and meals that you can use throughout the week, always keeping yourself 2-3 days ahead of your diary so that you are never caught short. We like to do this on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings whilst preparing the dinner at the same time.


Simple and Nutritious Meal Prep Ideas

Here are some time-saving ideas, which we have broken down into 4 categories; proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vegetables. From here, you can then put these foods together to make complete meals and or snacks as needed.


Protein:

- Roast a whole chicken and use the meat throughout the week in salads, stir fries, omelettes, soups and wraps

- Boiled eggs for adding into salads or for breakfast on the go

- Oven baked frittatas (egg); e.g. with smoked salmon, chicken, chicken sausages, feta, and chopped veggies - great for breakfasts or lunches, served warm or cold with a dark green leafy salad

- Cook some chicken sausages (such as the Heck brand) to chop into salads or snack on


Keep in stock in the fridge and cupboards:

- Feta, mozzarella, cottage cheese to add into salads, crackers or wraps.

- Cooked, sliced, turkey or chicken breast

- Tins of mackerel, salmon, tuna, and sardines to use in salads

- Tins of lentils, chickpeas and other beans to throw into salads, soups and stir fries

- Tempeh or tofu


Healthy Carbohydrates:

- Boil some baby new potatoes to throw into salads or quickie saute with dinner meals- Baked sweet potato (whole or wedges)

- Cook some quinoa and or brown rice, which can be refrigerated and also frozen in portions using small containers or freezer bags

- Cook pasta made from brown rice, buckwheat or wholewheat to eat cold in salads or heat through for dinners


Keep in stock in the fridge and cupboards:

- Oats for porridge or overnight oats

- Oatcakes (use like crackers)

- Tins of lentils, chickpeas and other beans to throw into salads, soups and stir fries

- Packets of pre-cooked brown rice and or quinoa from the supermarket


Healthy Fats:

- Extra virgin olive oil

- Olives

- Nuts

- Seeds

- Homemade guacamole

- Homemade hummus

- Nut butters (almond, cashew) to spread onto oatcakes or add into porridge

- Butter (real, not margarine)

- Coconut milk


Vegetables:

- Chopped vegetables for dipping into hummus, cottage cheese or guacamole. Such as bell peppers, fennel, celery, carrots, mange tout, sugar snap peas, courgettes

- Chopped and roasted cauliflower, aubergine, sweet potato, butternut squash, courgettes, bell peppers, garlic, and onions

- Raw red and green cabbage, beetroot and carrot chopped and blitzed in a food

- Broccoli and cauliflower chopped and sauteed


Keep in stock in the fridge and cupboards:

- Bags of mixed dark green salad leaves (such as spinach, kale, lambs lettuce, rocket, and watercress)

- Bags of frozen green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, green peas, and edamame beans

- Tins of lentils, chickpeas and other beans


So there you have it. Your go-to cheat sheet for prep ideas for each of the important categories that make up a balanced plate; proteins, carbs, fats, and vegetables. We hope our tips can inspire you on your journey towards optimal health and wellbeing!


In summary, meal prep is a practical and effective tool for maintaining a healthy lifestyle by promoting nutritional awareness, facilitating time management, and supporting consistency in healthy eating habits.



To Wholeness!


From the team at the New School Of Nutritional Medicine


Learn about the Founder & Principal of the New School of Nutritional Medicine, Dr Khush Mark PhD HERE.






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