How to prepare healthy meals in advance for the week

Work out? Then eat what you want, when you want, I say – or at least that’s the motto I’d always stuck to. Only it’s hard not to change my tune after my antics over the last few months. First things first, our HQ is a hop, skip and jump away from Gail’s Kitchen – the purveyors of all things delicious and carb-filled – so that’s a daily struggle. And whether it’s breakfast meetings, restaurant review or press dinners, a large part of my day centres around food. First world problems, I know – I digress. Generally, I eat pretty healthily – the amount I spend every week at Planet Organic being proof – but that’s probably why I’m acutely aware that my eating habits of late have left a lot to be desired.

Christmas season isn’t a time I care to spend watching what I eat. That said, the past month of carbs and wine have made themselves known on my body. A shake-up seemed in order and so I’ve resolved to start with my fridge.

First it was Christmas, with chocolate and branded cupcakes in all manner of sizes delivered to the office from our friends in PR; then came sweets in preparation for Valentine’s Day, and even as I write this now, my legs are battling with a growing pile of Easter Eggs collecting under my desk. Team that with the fact that I was drinking most days last month, not to mention the copious amounts I consumed on Christmas day and you get a pretty bleak picture.

Christmas season isn’t a time I care to spend watching what I eat. That said, the past month of carbs and wine have made themselves known on my body. A shake-up seemed in order and so I’ve resolved to start with my fridge. Take a peak inside and you’ll see plenty of fresh fruit and veg but if I haven’t prepared meals ahead of a busy week, I’ll often come, stare at the quinoa, heirloom carrots, and perfectly crisp kale, only to shrug and make a bowl of pasta instead – for hunger trumps all else. This is exactly why I called on nutritionist Libby Limon for help. When you go shopping this weekend, think of this as your healthy line of defence. Even if you only have only have one hour each weekend to prep a few things on this list – you’ll be amazed at what a difference it’ll make in keeping you on the straight and narrow during the week.


How-to-prepare-meals-for-weekThe first thing you need is healthy food in the house. If you are food obsessed like me, head to your local farmers market to stock up on seasonal and organic produce. If you’re time poor or food shopping isn’t your bag, organise a big online supermarket delivery. It’s important to at least loosely plan what dishes you want to prepare and eat to make sure that you don’t over or under order.

Keep it simple. Even if you are the most ardent lover of cooking, if you have a full-time job spending hours and hours in the kitchen can soon become draining. Dishes that take a long time to prepare or have long lists of fanciful ingredients are great if you are want to show off when hosting a dinner party or when you have time at the weekend to experiment. The trick to eating healthily in the week and sticking with it is keeping recipes simple by building up a repertoire of easy go-to dishes that require more prep time than demanding cooking time.

Sunday is a great prep day. There are loads of foods you can prep ahead to make meals quick and easy during the week. Roast trays of root and Mediterranean vegetables to add to salads or reheat with your meals during the week. Steam and refresh vegetables such as broccoli, green beans and peas too. Cook pots of healthy wholegrains like quinoa or buckwheat noodles. It’s also worth preparing healthy soups and stews. I make batches of green juices and hard boil eggs for my breakfasts too. You can even portion out smoothie ingredients ready to go for the morning.

The freezer is your friend. It stores it but also locks in the nutrition. It’s the best way to stock up and have healthy food available all the time whether you have time to cook or not.  It allows you to make your own homemade ready meals. You can also freeze sauces such as homemade pesto, juices and smoothie ingredients. Buying frozen berries means that they are produced and picked in season making them more tasty and nutrient dense. 

Fill your store cupboard cleverly. Beans, peas and pulses are great source of fibre and protein but take an age to prepare. Instead of cooking from scratch, buy organic tins or cartons to save time and energy. Healthy condiments are great to add flavour and depth to dishes turning similar base ingredients to completely different dishes. Use healthy oils like coconut, avocado and sesame. Pre-prep and freeze your own curry pastes, pestos and bone broths so all you need to do is add them to heartier ingredients that are cook to prepare during the week. It’s really that simple.