Good morning and happy Saturday!
As some of you know, I started my first post-graduation job this January. After all these years of studying, it’s been an exciting change and I’ve been enjoying finally feeling like a working member of society! As anticipated, it obviously also radically changed my lifestyle – no more “insta-worthy” pancake stacks for breakfast, working in my pjs all morning, trying out new cafes in the afternoon, going to the gym anytime I want etc. etc.
This past month I’ve been getting up at 5.30 am, leaving the house in the dark, getting back home in the dark, having some dinner and going to bed between 9.30/10 pm. Definitely less time to do some of the things I love, and certainly no longer the luxurious option of being able to cook my meals throughout the day. To make my life a bit easier, I knew the time had come to finally delve into the fascinating practice of meal prep.
It’s early days, but I thought I’d share with you some of my meal prep routine so far.
SUNDAY MEAL PREP
This is the more “serious” meal prep, when I can make lots of different elements if I want to. So far my strategy has been to:
1. Cook a grain (like quinoa or millet) and
2. Throw some random things in the oven to roast. Then I combine these elements in my trusty tupperware and can:
3. add a dollop of hummus, mashed avocado etc. on the day, to switch things up.
During the week I miss having more time and energy to spend in the kitchen, so I try get a proper cooking session in on the weekend – especially on Sunday. By Friday/Saturday I generally have an idea of what this will be, so I have everything I need on Sunday.
Meal Prep #1: To illustrate, my first serious Sunday meal prep involved cooking a batch of millet, while oven-roasting chopped sweet potato, pumpkin, plantain, carrots and turmeric-ginger cauliflower. I also quickly heated up some frozen peas (by simply adding boiling water from the kettle), which I added to the tupperware. At work, one of my colleagues offered me some of her gloriously pink beetroot hummus, which was the perfect addition. I now tend to have a tub in the fridge, to add some to my prepped meals. (No time to make my own hummus on a regular basis anymore…)
You can make this as simple or complex as you like – simply roasting up a batch of sweet potato and cauliflower and adding some hummus and fresh greens, or making more elements on the stove, like a curry. Last Sunday I went all out, also making a yellow lentil, pumpkin & kale dhal, flower sprout chips and quinoa, to combine with my oven-roasted goodies, beetroot hummus and avocado.
(This is how I served it up for my boyfriend and I on Sunday – the copious leftovers I transferred to tupperware, and I still had some servings of dhal I could freeze).
SIMPLE WEEKDAY PREP
You probably can make enough on a Sunday to last you all week. I don’t like keeping leftovers in the fridge for too long, though, and my freezer space is quite limited. Instead, I end up doing another meal prep during the week. Difference to the Sunday one? It only takes about 15 minutes. Here are my favorites:
Meal Prep #2: Turmeric & Ginger Quinoa (an old staple) with carrots and peas. Minimal chopping, everything in one pot, no fuss. I like to stir through some coconut oil or olive oil at the end. Depending on what I have around, I add on to this or switch it up, e.g. adding flower sprouts a few minutes before the quinoa has cooked, or some hummus, leftover roasted veg etc.
Meal Prep #3: Mediterranean Pasta – I add wholemeal spelt pasta (usually I make two – large – servings) and 1 head of chopped broccoli into a pan of boiling, salted water and cook for about 5-6 minutes. While this is cooking I chop 1 zucchini, 1 small aubergine and several sundried tomatoes (the kind in olive oil with herbs). When the broccoli pasta is done, I transfer it to a colander, then heat up one clove of crushed garlic in some of the olive oil from the jar of tomatoes. I add the diced veg and cook for a few minutes, adding salt. Once they’re soft I add the pasta into the pan, to mix all the flavors and also season with some mixed Italian herbs and maybe some smokey paprika.
Meal Prep #4: Tahini Tomato Pasta – another old staple I often used to have as a simple post-workout meal. Basically you cook pasta with veggies of your choice and stir in tahini, tomato paste, some olive oil (and smokey paprika and/or cayenne pepper for some heat).
We can’t forget dessert can we? My favorite sweet treat to prepare has been my double chocolate cookies (pictured in the first photo). They are so quick to prepare (you can even have them raw if you’re really low on time) and full of nourishing ingredients. My only problem has been that I eat a lot of them on Sundays already, and don’t have enough left to last me through the week. For more healthy sweet treat ideas check out my breakfast cookies (for breakfast on-the-go or dessert – you can always add a bit of maple syrup if you prefer them even sweeter), fudgy feel-good squares (pictured below), chocolate-covered pitaya and PB&J energy balls.
These options may not be quite as glamorous as the quinoa-sushi-burritos or soba noodle salads with peanut sauce and coriander I pictured myself making, after watching YouTube videos on vegan meal prep – but they’ve been working for me, keeping me nourished throughout the day without taking up too much of my time. I’m sure I’ll be adding on to this as I play around with more options.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and please let me know about your meal prep routine if you have one!
Happy weekend 🙂