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Clean eating is not a short stint at the beginning of January, nor is it a week or two before a beach holiday. It is a lifelong commitment that you owe to yourself to be able to function at your absolute best.
Knowledge is power! That is where I come in to help you.
In order to begin this process, we need to be organised. Meal preparation is of the utmost importance. Without it, keeping to any meal plan becomes a huge challenge and we all know what happens when we fall off the wagon…
When you want something desperately enough, you will do anything to get it, but when it comes to our health, we don’t all feel that way.
Ultimately, we have one body to serve us in this lifetime. Our bodies give us the freedom to jump for joy, to bend down and hug our children, to take long, slow walks on the beach with our life partners. The same body that allows you to revel in the afterglow of exercise highs!
Why would we not want to keep our bodies working at their optimum??
Before I learnt how to prepare food for my upcoming week, I would easily spend 1-2 hours in the kitchen every day, sometimes even more. This on top of working a full time job, studying part time and seeing to my husband and 2 children. As much as I love preparing food for my family and spending time in the kitchen, I started loathing this whole process.
I figured there must be an easier way to do this and save time. After some research and practice, I eventually found a routine that works for me.
My top 10 meal preparation tips will help you get started on your journey to wellness.
Plan your weekly shopping
Decide on a day in the week to do your grocery shopping, preferably on or close to the weekend so you have time to prep your meals. Plan your shopping list carefully and stick to it. The biggest mistake most people make when shopping for food is doing it on an empty stomach.
Buy as fresh and raw as possible
Your aim is to do the majority of your shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store. That is where you will find the meat, fresh produce, dairy and whole grains. Limit the aisles as they are filled with chemical laden foods that do nothing to nourish our bodies.
Wash, cut and store
Once you are home, take the time to wash and cut all your fruit and veggies. Store them in tupperwares or bowls in the fridge for easy access. You will always find a bowl of fresh cut strawberries or grapes in my fridge.
Choose your meal preparation day
Pick a day that you can use to spend some time in the kitchen preparing for the next few days. I use my Sundays to shop and cook for the week ahead. When Sunday evening rolls around, I feel great knowing that I have enough food to cover breakfasts, lunches and some dinners. There is no better feeling than starting a new week organised and ready!
Eggs are so easy and versatile to use, unless you don’t eat them, you would be silly not to boil a batch. Half my family enjoy soft boiled eggs while the other half prefer hard boiled. As a result, I have managed to perfect this request by preparing both in one go!
Boil a pot of water and then gently add your eggs. The ideal soft boiled egg is boiled for 5 minutes 40 seconds. Your hard boiled eggs will remain in the water for a total of 7 minutes. Once they have been taken out of the pot and cooled down, I mark them with a pen and store them in the fridge. These will keep for up to 5 days. To warm them up, just pop them into a bowl of boiling water for a minute or two. The soft boiled eggs will remain soft. There are numerous ways to use eggs, a few options are:
- Egg mayo sandwiches
- Toast with mashed avocado topped with an egg
- Soft boiled egg with toast soldiers for the little ones
- Eggs eaten on their own as a snack are also great!
I buy chicken breasts in bulk and grill or bake them to be used for lunches or dinners. Try using a bit of olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper and origanum to spice up the breasts when cooking them. They can be used in countless ways:
- Chicken mayo sandwiches
- Chicken and vegetable stir fries
- Chicken wraps
- Chicken pasta salads
- Chicken enchiladas
These are so easy to make and handy to have around for a quick snack (the boys love them!). They can also be used as a full meal with a side of sweet potato mash and salad. I use ostrich mince or extra lean beef mince. Mix with your choice of chopped up veggies, I like onions, sweet peppers, carrots and mushrooms. Add spices of your choice as well as some tomato paste or tomato puree. Mix everything well and spoon the mixture into muffin tins. Top the meatball muffins with a bit more tomato paste or puree and pop into the oven to bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. These will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Deliciously raw fruit and vegetable juice
A firm habit in our household involves everyone indulging in a glass of fresh fruit and veggie juice every morning. There are so many different varieties of juices to choose from, you will never get bored and the health benefits are well worth the effort. Investing in a juicer was one of my best decisions! I wash and cut all my veggies and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. The night before, I take out whatever veggies and fruit I need to juice the next morning. It is a great way to get your serving of fruit and veggies in. A gush of goodness flowing straight into your cells, it doesn’t get better than this!
In addition, another easy way to get your daily quota of fruit and veggies in, is with smoothies. You will never be short of recipe ideas on the web. We often have a surplus of bananas at home that don’t get eaten. Just before they over ripen, I peel and cut them into chunks to store in the freezer. They add a beautiful creaminess to my smoothies. My favourite is one I call “Chocolate butter bliss”.
Add the ingredients below into your smoothie machine and blend until smooth:
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tbsp. nut butter of your choice – I love macadamia
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 pitted medjool dates
- 1 serving chocolate protein powder
- 1 tbsp. raw cacao powder
- A few ice cubes
When that sweet tooth kicks in, energy balls are a must have! These are great for snacks especially before a workout and if there are any left after the kids find them, consider yourself lucky! My favourite version of these energy balls look like this….
- 10-12 medjool pitted dates
- 2 tbsp. of Buttanut’s Chocolate macadamia nut butter
- 4 tbsp. of cacao powder
- ½ cup dessicated coconut and extra for rolling
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
Take the inspiration you need from this post to help you realise that clean eating is not as hard as we imagine it to be. It may take some time to get used to but once you get the hang of it, you will love it!