Meal prep queens: What to cook for dinner this week
EVEN hearing the term "meal prep" tends to freak some people out.
They think it means your entire Sunday cooking up a million different meals and somehow finding space in your tiny freezer to store them all for the coming week.
Granted, some people - the annoyingly smug kind - do exactly this. Then they post about it on Instagram, making the rest of us feel inadequate.
But all meal-prepping really means is having a few bits and pieces in your fridge or freezer ready to go for the week. You don't have to transform yourself into an Instagram-perfect meal-prepper.
We asked the Healthy Mummy's meal prep queens Kaitie Purssell, 27, and Sascha Farley, 27, about meal prep tips for normal, busy people.
1. THROW PERFECTION OUT THE WINDOW
Kaitie: "People see these massive meal prep photos on Instagram and get overwhelmed. You don't have to do what they do."
Sascha: "You have to make it work for you. It doesn't matter what other people are doing. Some people have sport so they can't prep on a Sunday. Do it on whatever day suits you or do it in bits and pieces throughout the week. There are no set rules. Just do whatever you can and make it work for your lifestyle."
2. START BY COOKING DOUBLE BATCHES
Kaitie: "Make double, triple or quadruple amounts of the dinner you're making each night and freeze it. That's how I started. If I was making one banana bread, I'd make two, cut one up and freeze it."
Sascha: "I just double up dinner and have it for lunch the next day. Repeating meals is the best and I don't mind having the same thing the next day.
"I make lots of batches of snacks - muffins and slices and stuff like that. I make zucchini muffins and bliss balls. I usually make 24 zucchini muffins - I make a double batch every week. I made 40 bliss balls on the weekend. Then there's other snacks like Weet-Bix slice, tuna and crackers, chia seed puddings, yoghurt and fruit. You can divide the yoghurt up into containers.
3. MAKE A PLAN
Kaitie:"I definitely think it's important to make a plan. I have a list of what I'm making, all the ingredients I'm making and the order that will work best. I utilise all my appliances. I always have something in the slow cooker because it just looks after itself. I put it in and know it's done by the time I'm finished."
Sascha: "I always meal prep snacks on Saturday and main meals on Sunday. I set aside 1-2 hours to cook on a Sunday. I'll make my meal plan, write my shopping list on Friday, shop on Saturday. Sometimes it happens sporadically across the weekend. And I always ask for my kids' input because then they're more inclined to eat what I cook.
"I will cook meals for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and have them in the fridge and for the rest of the week choose meals that I can throw together really quickly, like steak and salad, fish and salad or healthy pizzas. I can pre-chop the ham and pineapple and grate the cheese so all I have to do it put it on top of the bases and whack it in the oven. So all you have to do is assemble."
4. GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FREEZER
Kaitie: "That's the best thing about meal prep is not having to cook every night. We can just grab something out of the freezer and I stick to my healthy eating.
"If we've had a big day my husband will say 'What's for dinner?' and even if he's trying to hint at having takeaway, I just say, 'Oh we already have dinner ready to go in the freezer.'
Sascha: "I always have our go-tos in the freezer - mac and cheese and Mexican lasagne - or meals that freeze and defrost well like mince and bolognese.
"There's a slow-cooking Asian chicken recipe that freezes really well. I've learnt what freezes best and I'm smart about it."
5. DON'T BE AFRAID TO CHEAT
Kaitie: "In my experience there are two types of people. People who don't have much money and people who don't have a lot of time. They're the two biggest drawbacks. Now Coles and Woolworths have sweet potato fries cut up in the fruit and vegetable section and you can buy cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles. If time is an issue you can buy stuff pre-cut."
Sascha: " I have things I can cook on the stovetop, slow cooker and oven so I'm utilising my entire kitchen space.
"I try and see what I have at home, utilising the ingredients I have to save money. If I bought something on sale I will try and use a recipe that's using up what I already have to save going out and buying stuff.
"If I'm doing a bulk meal prep, I will wash and grate all the carrots I need for my various recipes and have them in a container so I just grab what I need. It definitely makes cooking during the week easier because you can just grab them."