The Anatomy of a Meal Prep: Building Your Dish

Prepping your meals can make your life so much simpler and will help you reach your fitness goals much quicker. While making the decision to meal prep can be an easy one, figuring out what foods to include and how much can be a much more difficult task. Unless you are committing to counting your macros and weighing all of your foods, which let's be honest can be a lot of effort, eyeballing can often lead to you easily over or under-eating which won't help you reach your goals. Eating chicken, rice and veggies for lunch every day can also get dull real quick so coming up with new, easy to prep combos to keep things fresh is also key. Today we are going to give you some top tips on how to structure your meals without having to weigh out all of your food and some delicious combos to spice up your weekly meal prep.

Part 1: The Anatomy

Building your meals need not be a daily maths lesson, there are a few simple rules you can follow to create a balanced meal. If you are packing your lunch then make sure you have a decent sized tupperware that has space for enough food but also isn't a cavern that you can stuff with way too much food, this medium sized one is a perfect example. 

  • Rule 1: Fill half of your box with fruit and veggies. Half of the base of your box should be fresh fruit and veg, this makes sure you are getting plenty of vitamins, minerals and fibre and are probably hitting 2 of your 5 a day. It also stops you from filling the box up with too many carbohydrates.
  • Rule 2: Fill the other half with wholegrain carbohydrates. The other half of the base of your box should be wholegrain carbohydrates such as brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa or sweet potato. This will give you plenty of energy and also lots of fibre.
  • Rule 3: Add in a portion of protein. In our Protein – What, Why and How Much? article, we covered how many grams of protein you really should be eating each day. An easy way to portion it out is to go for 1 chicken breast, 1 fillet of fish, 1/2 tin of cooked chickpeas/lentils or 125g minced beef (half of a small pack).
  • Rule 4: Make sure there is a source of healthy fats somewhere in there. Maybe you cooked your veggies in olive oil, you have some salmon in there or some avocado on the top, just make sure there are some fats somewhere. Unsaturated fats are great for our heart, our skin, our brain and many other things!

Part 2: The Combos

Changing up your meals is not only key to stop you getting bored, it is also a great way to make sure you are getting a broad variety of vitamins, minerals and protein types. So rather than sticking to chicken every day, try to throw some fish or veggie protein in to the mix every once in a while. Likewise for your veggies and carbs, trying new grains and veggies is a great way to up your nutrition game. So here are some easy combos to jazz up your next batch of meal prepping.

  • Teriyaki salmon with brown rice and stir fried bok choy, sugar snap peas and baby corn.
  • Spicy Mexican beef with sweet potato, black beans and grilled peppers.
  • Pesto chicken with brown pasta, asparagus, green beans and cherry tomatoes. 
  • Moroccan chickpeas with couscous, courgette, aubergine and halloumi. 
  • Jerk chicken with spicy rice, mango and avocado.
  • Lamb meatballs with freekeh, roasted carrots and squash. 
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