The easiest way to meal prep for quick, healthy meals

Think of the words ‘meal prep’ and you likely conjure up images of 20 plastic containers filled with brown rice, baked chicken and steamed broccoli.  The Instagram world has played a large role in the popularity of ‘meal prep’, but it is also part of the reason why so many of my clients don’t do it themselves.  Balancing kids, work, the household, and everything else is hard enough – who has a spare four hours on Sundays to meal prep for the entire week?

Meal prep can seem a little overwhelming at first – where do you start? How many meals do you make? What if you don’t feel like eating that meal by the time Thursday comes around? Will it really last in the fridge for that long?  I’m going to answer all of those questions, and more, in this article. I totally get the overwhelm, because I’ve been there too! That’s why I’m sharing with you my approach to meal prep – it’s simple, it’s not time-consuming, and it’s definitely not boring.

Where do I start?

Well, that depends on where you’re at right now.  Do you prepare any meals in advance right now, or are you winging it as you go?  For some of my clients, meal prep actually begins with creating a weekly menu and doing the weekly grocery shop on a specific day each week.  You don’t have to start your menu on a Monday – if you have Fridays off work, why not do your groceries then and start your menu on a Friday night?  There’s no rules, and it’s important to create a system that works for you and your family.

I know that a lot of my clients worry that they won’t have enough variety if they have a set weekly menu, but I always encourage a flexible menu (and that’s what I do for hubby and I, too).  We have a rough idea of what we’ll eat each week, and if anything changes we adapt to it. For example, we might have dinner at my parents house one night, or go out on a weekend. If we’re not eating what I’ve bought and it won’t last, I pop it in the freezer and save it for next week.

 

How many meals do I make?

For me, it was really important that I started small when I first tried to prepare my meals in advance.  It was way too overwhelming trying to make 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners all at once. So when you’re starting out, stop and ask yourself this question: What part of the day is it hardest for me to make healthy choices?

If you tend to get a croissant on the way to work every day, then meal prepping a few breakfast meals would be the best place to start.  If you’re more prone to getting takeout for dinner, then preparing dinner meals in advance would be ideal. If you’re someone who eats well all day and then succumbs to that darn chocolate craving every night, then preparing some raw cacao bliss balls or other healthy sweet treat is the best meal prep you can do for yourself.  You see what I’m getting at?

There’s no hard and fast rule, but starting with the meal (or snack) you struggle with the most is the perfect starting place.

 

What if I don’t feel like eating the same meal all week?

Lady, I hear you!  I love eating delicious meals, but I also love me a bit of variety too.  I couldn’t think of anything more boring than eating brown rice, baked chicken and steamed broccoli for lunch and dinner seven days a week.  Making meals that excite your taste buds is definitely important, and if variety is important to you then definitely mix it up.

As an example of how I keep things interesting and different, a few weeks ago I made my homemade pasta sauce on a Monday morning, and added heaps more veggies when I roasted the tomatoes – so all the nutrition was already in the sauce.  Then Monday night all I had to do was cook some mince, heat the sauce and boil gluten-free pasta. Voila, dinner done! I had enough sauce for two meals, but hubby and I didn’t feel like the same thing again.  So I made a lasagne on Tuesday night with zucchini and spinach layers, and the leftover mince and sauce from the previous night.

Meal prep doesn’t mean having the same meal over and over and over again until you can’t stand the sight of it.  It’s just a matter of being a little more organised with your eating, and making things super simple for yourself whenever you can.

 

Will it last in the fridge?

You’d be surprised at how well things last in the fridge.  Things like salads can go a bit wilted, but I’ve got a great option for meal prepping salads in my free ebook (see below).

Always use your common sense with meals, and follow expiry dates on meats of course.  And if you have any doubts, your freezer is your new best friend. Defrost meals as you need them.

Let’s simplify meal prep.

First step is: identify the part of your day or week where you’re not staying consistent with your health eating, and start there.  Prepare breakfasts, lunches, dinners or snacks that will help to keep you on track throughout the week. My free ebook ‘A Naturopath’s Guide to Simple, Easy Meal Prep’ is filled with high protein, high fibre recipes that can be prepared in advance, or made in under 10 minutes.

Once you’ve got that one covered, you can start to branch out a little bit.  Slow cookers are great because you can choose meals that require very little prep, and then just turn it on and let it do it’s thing.  You might like to try simple things like having brown rice or quinoa cooked and ready to go, or preparing something like my homemade pasta sauce in advance for a couple of different meals that week.

If you’re absolutely loving the meal prep and you want to start doing it for more meals in your day, go for it!  But remember, it’s about small steps at a time. At the first sign of overwhelm, stop, breathe and reset. Are you starting too big?  Can you simplify, and start smaller?

 

If you’re stressed about meal prep and it’s your least favourite part of the week, then you’re totally missing the point.  

 

Meal prep should be about making things easier for you, not harder.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and do it in a way that fits your life and your family.  And definitely, definitely don’t compare yourself to the Insta-models who prep 21 meals on a Sunday.

 

Okay, that all sounds great, but what am I supposed to be meal prepping?

I hear ya, and I’ve got you covered.  I’ve put together a free ebook for you, with 18 of my favourite high protein, high fibre recipes that you can prepare in advance, or in under 10 minutes.  You can download the ebook below for instant access to the recipes, and get started on your meal prep journey whenever you like, in your own way.

 

 

Remember, simple is best and overwhelm is not your friend.  When you find a way to meal prep that feels good for you, it’ll absolutely change your week.

 

Lots of meal-prepping love,

danni-illingworth

 

Dannielle-Illingworth

How is a naturopath different to a dietician?

danni-archer-naturopath

Do you know what a naturopath is, or how a naturopath can help you lose weight?  A couple of weeks ago, I had a huge shock.  I surveyed almost 100 gorgeous women who want to lose weight, and asked them if they knew what a naturopath was.  OVER 50% of these women had no idea what a naturopath is, or does! So I’ve decided to write this blog post today to clarify what I do as a naturopath, particularly when it comes to helping you lose weight, and also how my approach might differ from a dietician or nutritionist.

So first of all, what is a naturopath?
As a naturopath, my focus is on helping you lose weight and keep it off.  My training in naturopathy was based on utilising natural health principles to bring my clients to better health – this includes assessing your diet, lifestyle and genetic factors.  The main thing you should know about naturopaths (well, good ones anyway!) is that we work holistically.  This means that when I’m working with a client for weight loss, not only am I helping that client make simple dietary and lifestyle changes, I’m also looking at their emotional health, their mindset, their physical wellbeing, and addressing ALL aspects of their wellness.

How does a naturopath differ from a dietician or nutritionist?
I think the easiest way to explain this is with the following examples:

Scenario 1: You visit a dietician with the goal of losing 10kg
You go to a dietician, and you’re given a meal plan diet to stick to.  You’re also told to drink more water and exercise 5 days per week.  You have your next appointment booked for 4 weeks time so that the dietician can check on your progress and weigh you, measure you, etc.  After four days on your new diet, your intense food craving for chocolate takes hold and you eat a family sized block in one sitting.  The next morning, you just can’t find the energy to get out of bed and get to the gym.  So you don’t.  Two weeks into the diet plan, you haven’t exercised for over a week and your diet has been up and down – some days it’s just impossible to stick with it and other days you feel super motivated.  What happens when it comes time for your 4-week check up?  You cancel the appointment.  You couldn’t possibly face the dietician and tell him/her that you had failed, so you give up completely.  Maybe in the new year you can try again, but for now it just feels way too hard.

Scenario 2: You visit a naturopath with the goal of losing 10kg
You make an appointment to see a naturopath, and you have an hour long appointment.  You chat about your diet, and what you’re struggling with food wise.  I ask you what foods you like and what foods you don’t like.  We discuss your food cravings and delve a bit deeper into what is actually causing them.  I ask you about your energy levels, your sleep, your current stresses.  We chat about exercise – what you enjoy and what you don’t.  I get an insight into your health history, your medical history, your family history.  I even ask you about fun stuff like your bowel movements and your periods, because all that stuff gives me insight into your current health.  I explain everything to you as we go – THIS is why you have sugar cravings at 3pm everyday, and here’s how you can get rid of the cravings completely.  THIS explains why you haven’t been able to shift those last 10kg, and why diets have failed in the past.  THIS is why you have low energy, or constipation, or daily headaches.  And then we take a baby step forward.  Usually, it begins with getting rid of your food cravings so that you feel more in control of your food choices.  I don’t like strict meal plans, but instead I help you create healthy changes in your current diet.  Your next appointment is scheduled for 2 weeks time, and you come back excited, motivated, and ready to take the next baby step towards your weight loss goal.  And within 3 months, you’ve lost 10kg and you’ve gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for your amazing body and all that it can do.

In scenario 1, you’re relying on mere willpower to get you through.  You try to fight your food cravings, and you try to force yourself to exercise consistently.  And when that fails, you’re off the band wagon and you’ve given up completely.

In scenario 2, you’ve discovered why you have food cravings and you’ve eliminated them completely.  I’ve explained why you have low energy, and we’ll work on improving that energy before I ask you to exercise consistently.  All of a sudden, we’re working with your body instead of against it.  Wow, what a sense of freedom that is!  There’s no sense of failure here, because we’re taking baby steps and working from the foundation up to ensure your success, rather than relying on willpower to get you through.

So, what’s the point?
I’m not here to tell you that naturopathy is the only solution for every one looking to lose weight.  What I am saying is that if you’ve tried diets in the past and given up, and you’re struggling to keep the consistency with your diet and exercise regime, maybe it’s time to look a little more holistically at what is going on.  My holistic approach to weight loss is the very reason my clients are so successful at not only losing weight but also keeping it off, and doing so in a way that feels easy and sustainable.

 

If you’d like more information on how you can work with me, visit this page or contact me here.

danni-archer-weight-loss