Meal prep and cooking

 

Tips, tricks, shopping guides and meal prep masterclasses to streamline your cooking.

 
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Having an environment that is going to help you achieve your goals is essential. We need to surround ourselves with the right type of food and people.

Our First Law Of Food Environments states:

If a food is in your possession and/or near you, you will eventually eat it.

It might not be today. It might not be tomorrow. But it’ll happen.

In other words, keep only food or drinks that you should actually consume. Make it easy to eat well, by having healthy and nutritious foods close and hand and easy to consume... and unhealthy, damaging foods far, far away.

Healthy eaters have healthy homes. Healthy people ensure that their environment supports their goals. Changing your surroundings is one of the best ways to start your journey to living better.


IN WITH THE GOOD OUT WITH THE BAD

Before you do this, think about why this is important to you. Why you are doing this. We want long term progress - not a short term fix. 

If you’ve got family members or other folks in your household, sit down with them before you do this. Decide what is truly valuable to you. You may choose to keep one or two really special items (e.g. the salted caramel truffles you got for your birthday; the rare artisan cheese made by a Tibetan monk, etc.).

Get a few big garbage bags, and your compost bin if you’ve got one.

Prepare to encounter resistance.

For instance, you’ll probably worry: Isn’t this a waste of food?

No. If it’s junk, it’s not “food.” So why would you eat foods that have no nutritional value and actively take away from your health? If a certain food has redeeming qualities, then you can take it to a local food bank or soup kitchen. But if that food is complete junk, trash it. Get it out of the house. If you think it’s junk, it probably is.

Start with getting rid of the obvious junk foods from your fridge and pantry. This includes things like:

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  • Chips
  • Biscuits
  • Chocolates
  • Soda/sweetened drinks
  • Fruit juice cordials
  • Instant foods like cake mixes and mashed potatoes
  • Margarine and other processed fats
  • Most supermarket frozen dinners
  • Bowls of candy or other snacks sitting around

STORE CUPBOARD STOCK

These are the store cupboard ESSENTIALS that you should have ready to go. They last for ages and you will be able to make a quick meal and add a tonne of flavour.

  • Coffee - has to be first on the list
  • Tinned fish - Tuna and an oily fish such as sardines
  • Two different grains - rice / quinoa / barley / buckwheat
  • 3 tins / packets of pulses - lentils / black beans/ butter beans / chickpeas
  • Olives and gherkins
  • Pot of dried mushrooms
  • Packets of miso
  • Some form of nut butter
  • Dates
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Oats
  • Different flours such as almond and coconut 
  • Bags of mixed nuts
  • Apple cider and balsamic vinegar
  • Chia seeds
  • Coconut and olive oil
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • Tahini paste
  • 2 jars of low sugar marinades such as jerk / paella / Thai curry 
  • A well stocked spice rack

Now you will have the basics ready to go. It is worth using an online company and doing a large order every 6 weeks - 2 months to restock. In the UK we use a company called BUYWHOLEFOODSONLINE but wherever you are there will be companies similar that offer excellent products. 

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FROZEN FOOD

Having a well stocked freezer allows you to take exactly what you need and reduces waste as they don’t go off like fresh produce can. Frozen food is often just as if not more nutritious than the frozen equivalents, starchy veg like peas and corn start to denature very quickly once picked. Some brands freeze them in the field preserving the nutrients. Buy the following frozen.

  • Raspberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Sliced mixed peppers
  • Chopped onions
  • Edamame
  • Peas
  • Sweetcorn
  • Fish
  • Prawns and seafood

Our resident cooking guru Vicky Newbold has some great tips here.

Frozen food and store cupboard ingredients are a huge life saver for me. Either used to add to any meal prep or as a standby for when I didn’t have time to prep. Each of these meals shown below include to a greater or lesser extent, something I always have to hand. The sliced mixed peppers and ready chopped onions form the basis of a shakshuka recipe (which I then add spices, tinned and fresh tomatoes to), frittatas and stir fries, you just chuck them in the pan frozen and cook away, the water that melts off them means I don’t use any oil either.
I also add frozen fruit to smoothies, protein shakes, Greek yoghurt for breakfast/snack or dessert and as a topping for porridge. At the weekends I make up a big batch of berry compote from frozen berries as there’s little point using fresh if you’re going to cook with them IMO. In the middle of winter they taste far better than the fresh and they’re much cheaper gram for gram.

Lastly here is some awesome storage tips from the guys at BUZZFEED - READ HERE

 

Shopping advice

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We know that shopping is a life admin task that can be so time consuming! But it has to be done. Here are a few tips that may help to streamline your weekly shop. 

  1. Choose the best quality produce that you budget allows for. No need to buy organic for every food. Use the dirty dozen / clean 15 list to prioritise.

  2. Shop with a plan / menu / list otherwise you can end up buying unnecessary foods and wasting money.

  3. When in doubt - go without. If you are not sure whether you will use it or need it - put it back.

  4. Buying in bulk will help keep costs down. For example - buy a whole chicken instead of chicken breasts. Buy a bag of dried black beans opposed to tinned beans.

  5. Buy foods online. There are always great deals for online shopping. **Get a few friends to place an order for 3-5kg of nuts / seeds / oats etc and distribute to make it cheaper**

Online shopping

If you order online you can add the previous shop to the current basket to save time. This is great as we want to keep our basics in there each week. As we mentioned above use an organic food store that you can buy in bulk. 

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There is an awesome site called WHISK that allows you to search recipes and add the infredients to a shopping list. You can then order from a online supermarket and add extras to your bag! We are working hard to integrate this service into our recipe section! Watch this space. But for now - CHECK IT OUT HERE. 


Meal prep delivery options

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No more plain chicken and white rice! Our recommended meal prep and delivery service. The quality of the meals is unrivalled! We use with a number of our athletes and clients in the U.K.

Using a meal prep company is one of the easiest ways to keep your nutrition on point. Even if it is just for a 1 or two meals a day. 

The great thing about balance is you can order for 1, 2 ,3 or 4 weeks. You are not locked in to a contract. Use to stock up, freeze a few meals and use during bust periods of work or training. 

Use code PH10 for 10% discount off all food


Ingredient boxes

FARM DROP - Great one stop shop for organic food. Can be expensive but very good quality.

TURNER & GEORGE - Incredible meat box - amazing quality.

OTHER MEAT BOXES - Selection of other meat box deliveries.

VEG BOX DELIVERIES - We love the Riverford box but have had good feedback from the abel and cole also. 

Recipe boxes

MINDFUL CHEF - Incredible recipe box delivery - awesome quality and amazing recipes. They deliver all food and recipe cards. We use their recipes all the time!

GOUSTO - Another superb recipe box delivery. Step by step recipe guide online also.

Meal prep

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One of the habits we want to build is improving our skill set for prepping meals. Meal prep shouldn’t require 8 pans and 5 hours of your Sunday slaving over a cooker. We want it to be streamlined so you can spend more time designing NIKE ID metcons 😊.

Our 3 methods to nail your meal prep.


Component cooking

What do you do if you prep your protein and carb meal and then don’t end up training? Well this is where component cooking can work well for you. So what is component cooking?!

In a nutshell (more food puns to come) it is cooking and storing each macronutrient separately. You make a batch of something and use it through the week to build your meals. 

It allows us to be flexible throughout the week, minimise food waste and maintain variety. So how do we do it?

STEP 1

  • Cook a protein source. Options include
  • Roast a whole chicken, a side of salmon, pre bought turkey meatballs or a side of beef.
  • Stir fry some chicken or turkey.
  • Boil some eggs (at least 12).
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We suggest using herbs, spices and seasoning on the protein sources to both add flavour and to sneak those anti inflammatory nutrients in. Keep it simple. Steer clear of any marinades with sugar as the first ingredient. 

  • Paprika, lemon, garlic
  • Turmeric and ginger
  • Lime, garlic and soy sauce.

After cooking either shred, cut, dice or slice into piece and put into a large Tupperware. 

 

STEP 2

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Cook some veggies. This is where people often falter...not eating enough veg. Let's load up on the veg!

  • Meal prep 101 - steamed broccoli.
  • Pan fry some asparagus, broccolini and kale in garlic and chilli.
  • Tray bake peppers, tomatoes, aubergine and beetroot in herbs and spices.
  • Make this Jamie Oliver roasted cauliflower
  • Grate some cabbage, carrot and broccoli to make a raw slaw.

Yep…you got it…place in a tupperware. 

 

STEP 3

Now comes the carbs. As we know they are our friend, at the right times in the right amounts. Component cooking allows for more control over how much we put into our meals.

  • Microwave some sweet potato.
  • Boil some quinoa and / or rice in some stock.
  • Make a pot of black beans with a tin of tomatoes and cumin.
  • Roast some potato wedges.
  • Bake some butternut squash.

Again this is where we can add some recovery boosting extras such as herbs and spices. Once cooked place into a Tupperware.

 

FINAL STEP

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE....or just build your meals.

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What we now have is the base to ANY type of meal. We just build it based on what we have done that day or are doing tomorrow. Get your plate or bowl, add the veggies first, then the protein source and top with the carbs. So simple hey!

Ah the last part. Use sauces, spices and dips and add different fats (avocado, seeds, nuts, olives, eggs, oils and vinegars) 

  • Homemade or shop bought hummus. 
  • Greek yoghurt with chilli sauce stirred through.
  • Baba ganoush
  • Hot sauce - be wary of high sugar in these.

Adding the fats at the end or as extras allows you to add texture as well as control the amounts. Fats are very easy to overeat so be diligent when adding them!

QUICK TIP - Place your bowl on the scale, once veggies are added - zero the scale, add the protein to the right amount, zero the scale, then add the carbs, zero the scale, add the fats - DONE.

Try out component cooking and let us know how this works for you. Remember you could do this on a free day and freeze these to use mid week. 


Batch cook

Batch cooking is something that can be done so we have at least 1 meal a day ready for the week. This should be used for when you struggle to eat on plan. 

This could be lunch due to the canteen at work offering hearing aid beige food or your dinner as you train late and can't lift the spatula after those pull ups.

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So each week we advise you to identify a recipe that you can use to batch cook for either lunch or dinner. We advise to batch cook 3-4 meals at a time. Simple ways to achieve this include -

  • Buy larger cuts of meat and roast or use a slow cooker. Whole chicken, leg of lamb, sides of beef. Then pair with steamed veggies and packets of mixed grains. 
  • Make a large one pot meal. Our chilli or tandoori chicken and rice dish is perfect.
  • Roast numerous portions of protein at once. 4 fillets of fish take 8 - 12 minutes to cook. Roast chicken in various spices for 20 minutes.
  • Use a traybake recipe. Here are some great ones to use. JAMIE OLIVER TRAYBAKE CHICKEN, SALMON PESTO TRAYBAKE, MOROCCAN SPICED VEGGIE TRAYBAKE.

Get some easy go to meal prep recipe ideas. USE THE TAG MEAL PREP IN OUR RECIPE SECTION.

Trust us...once you get one or two go to recipes in the locker it becomes sooooo much easier to stay on plan. 


Cook extra

Cooking extra at meal times is a simple habit to build. Simply making double the recipe will ensure you have food available for the next days lunch or dinner.

Any recipe can be doubled or simply using your store cupboard ingredients to bulk out the leftovers is always an option. Essential you get your store cupboard filled with the right things!

Alternatively you can cook something extra to add to the meal. Simply steaming some vegetables whilst you are cooking your meal can be nice way to bulk out the meal for the next day. 


Now the best thing to do is to choose which method best suits you. Trial it and see how you get on. Consistency is crucial and having more meals that are home cooked will help you achieve your goal.

As you progress through the pathway we will be updating this page with more info as well as sending you special offers! 


Food hacks

This section is all about time saving ideas that will streamline your cooking and meal prep! There are some seriously awesome ideas! If you have any of your own please let us know! 

HEALTHY FOOD SWAPS

Here are some ideas for healthy swaps and simple recipe ideas. Let us know if you try any!

We love the mushroom burger option, the egg muffins (4.05), the mason jar portable salad (5.19) and all the smoothie bowl options. Smoothie bowls you need to use frozen fruit!

COOKING HACKS 

Cooking can be a tedious task, but here are some easy life hacks that will make life a bit easier! Some great tips trust us!

The first 5 tips are great, the tomato trick at 4.20, and did you know the best way to peel a banana (13.05) and the iced coffee freezer cubes (13.45) is an essential in the summer. 

 

     
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