Is meal prepping the secret to healthy eating success? Personal trainers and athletes swear by it, but is it realistic for the everyday person? Here are some top tips from personal trainers and elite athletes to help you meal prep like a pro and achieve your goals.
Pollyanna Hale - Personal Trainer & Nutritionist
- Choose 2 days a week to prep. A couple of hours in the evening should be enough.
- Plan meals in advance and write a shopping list for everything you need.
- Store meals in portions in plastic or freezable containers.
- Consider making more than you need and freezing extra portions for when you don't have time to prep.
- Incorporate meals that are flexible on ingredients so you can use up odds and ends, for an example a stir fry with whatever vegetables and protein you have, or an omelette with mixed vegetables and cheese.
- Buy long-life ingredients you use a lot of in bulk to save money.
- Use a slow cooker - just throw everything in and leave it to be ready by the evening.
- Don't forget breakfast. Pancakes can be made and reheated, and overnight oats and porridge can be made the night before to save time in the morning too.
Kim Graves - Triathlete
My top tip is to make sure it's food you enjoy. There's nothing worse than having 6 meals in the freezer and deciding you don't really fancy any of them so they just take up space before getting thrown away.
Especially avoid a meal plan that means you eat the same thing every day, otherwise you just get bored!
Meal prep doesn't have to be salad and tuna; one-pot meals like lasagne, chilli and Shepherd's Pie store and reheat really well.
Helene Wright - Ironman Triathlete
For me, the most important thing is to plan out meals in advance. I always write out a rough weekly meal plan so I don't have to worry about what I am cooking each day and know I will always have the right ingredients and not have any food wastage (good for the environment and your purse!)
To avoid repetition, I try to never have the same meals more than once per week too.
If I have time, I try to make at least two meals in advance on a weekend, so when I am time-limited during the week and starving after a hard training session, I can quickly reheat them - preventing the temptation to reach out for a convenient but unhealthy option!
When I don't have the time, I always try to bulk up my evening meals, doubling up the recipe. This means I either have extra portions for a quick and easy lunch the next day, or they can be popped in the freezer for healthy 'ready meals' when I don't have time or energy to cook from scratch.
Jodie Bennett - Triathlete & Ultra Runner
I tend to meal prep for work days. It can hard working as a medic on long on-call shifts. I’ve worked out that keeping things simple and quick with meal prep is the best way for working days.
Scrambled eggs for breakfast in a hot flask to take with me is always handy and stays hot until lunchtime. I do love this!
I try to do prep for a few days of chicken, rice and vegetables, then I can just take them out of the fridge for when I need them. Also a slice of Spanish tortilla, made from eggs and potato, come in handy as a lunch snack on the go.
My top tip is that when you don’t need to food prep and have a bit of time... don’t! Enjoy making nice meals when you have the time.
Jessica Tew - Ironman Triathlete
I always make sure I have some kind of 'sweet' in one of my meals, for example a measured amount of chocolate spread with my overnight oats for breakfast or maybe a jelly with my lunch or dinner. This means I can stay focused and enjoy the rest of my food knowing I've got a daily 'treat'.
Barry Waring - Ultra Runner
Your body is like a fire, don’t wait and put big logs on it, slowly add little logs and it will burn for longer. Small and often is my top tip for nutrition; eat small meals every 2 hours and keep that fire burning. Great for fat loss. Just make sure you stick to your macros.