You’re killing it at work. You get to the gym most days. Still though, you’re not quite on top of your health the way you’d like to be. Sure, you know you could be eating better, but therein lies the struggle: how do you fit healthy eating into an already hectic schedule?
With a little preparation, you can get on top of diet for good, plus save some money along the way. Read on as I break down my own weekly food prep habits.
1) Turn it into an appointment.
With busy work schedules, family demands, and a social life to maintain, it’s easy to see how healthy eating can slip down the to-do list. The only solution? Make it a priority. Food prep will never do itself, and if we’re honest our busy lifestyles are unlikely to get less busy any time soon.
The way I do it is to book food prep in as an appointment on my phone, just like any other. That way there’s no way to “accidentally” agree to something more fun. For me, it’s 2-4pm on a Sunday. By then I’ve already had my Sunday brunch with a friend, and it leaves me free to make evening plans to see out the last bit of the weekend.
Then I stick to it.
2) Choose two proteins, four veggies, and a whole grain.
Don’t make it more complex than it needs to be. An easy way to remember how to build a balanced meal is the 50:25:25 rule. Your plate (or container) should be 50% colourful vegetables, 25% healthy whole grains, and 25% protein source. It’s also important to eat a varied diet, so I suggest having a few options. That way you’re not eating the same thing all week long.
Lastly, find simple ways to make your meals—especially the vegetables—taste exciting, so that you’re actually looking forward to them. Herbs, spices, and different cooking techniques can help you here.
3) Cook things with similar methods at once to save time.
This one just makes sense, but streamlining the cooking process saves time and makes food prep a less daunting task.
Here’s what my prep looked like for this week:
Protein #1: Chicken tenderloins coated in olive oil, smoked paprika, and loads of black pepper. I cooked them on a heavy iron griddle, but you could barbecue them too. There’s no need for extra oil when you’re cooking them.
Protein #2: Salmon fillets, simply grilled and then given a squeeze of lemon. Eat these early in the week, as they won’t keep as well as other meats. After they were done, I kept the grill on for my first two veggie dishes.
Vegetable #1: I prefer my broccolini charred rather than steamed. I coated mine in olive oil, plus a few cloves of crushed garlic and a thinly sliced red chilli, then cooked it under a medium grill until done. If you really want to get fancy, you could sprinkle it with some sesame seeds afterwards—yum!
Vegetable #2: I put whole red capsicums under the grill just as they are, then turned them once the skin was black and blistered. Once all four sides were done and I’d left them to cool, I peeled off the skin, scooped out the seeds, and thickly sliced the flesh.
Vegetable #3: I was finished with the grill now, so instead turned the oven to a medium heat. I then roasted some skin-on slices of butternut pumpkin that had been coated with a little olive oil and sprinkled with dukkah.
Vegetable #4: Let’s face it: steamed cauliflower can be boring. Instead, coat the florets in a little olive oil and a generous sprinkling of turmeric, then roast them at the same time as the pumpkin. It takes on a much richer and more delicious flavour like this.
Grain: To make my brown rice more exciting, I cook it in a 50:50 mix of chicken stock and water.
4) Piece it all together.
You’ve got the pieces of the puzzle, now put your meals together. Mix and match things the way you like them; they don’t all have to be the same as long as you follow the 50:25:25 rule.
Don’t fret if you don’t have ten or fifteen individual containers to split your meals into. You can also store each different mix-and-match ingredients in the fridge, and then put together your meal in your container as you’re on your way out the door each day.
You may even want to freeze half of it and then reheat it on Wednesday or Thursday.
It’s that easy! Do the grunt work on a Sunday, and the rest of your week is sorted. No more dodgy takeaway lunches or after-work binge dinners.
This blog post was written in conjunction with my mates at Grow Super, to help you take charge of your personal health—as well as your financial health.