Founded by three friends on a mission to make healthy eating easy, Mindful Chef is a UK-based recipe box delivery service. Here, co-founder Myles Hopper, who’s also personal trainer and nutritional coach, shares his top tips on how to make meal preparation and batch cooking a total breeze:
“If you’re serious about hitting your health goals then nutrition is going to play a key part in your journey. And if, like most of us, you have a 9 to 5 job, meal prep has to be one of your top priorities. Planning ahead is crucial for success and makes prepping food so much more manageable. So, how can you be more organised? Simply follow these five easy steps and you’ll be prepping like a pro in no time at all.
1. Pick a ‘prep day’
For me, it’s usually a Sunday evening when I have the most free time. It’s also when I get my weekly delivery from Mindful Chef, so I know I have food to cook for the week. However, a lot of us don’t want to cook a whole week’s worth of food in one evening, so I would suggest picking another prep day as well – Wednesday is a good mid-week choice.
2. Work out how many meals you need to prep for
A lot of us may not actually need to prep every meal for the week ahead. I prefer to wake up slightly earlier so I have time to make breakfast and, because I enjoy cooking, it never seems like a chore to make dinner in the evenings. So for me, I only really need to prep lunch. I make that task super easy by cooking more at dinner and then having leftovers the following day. Taking leftovers to work stops me running to the shops at lunchtime and getting food that isn’t very good for me.
3. Keep it tasty
This is our biggest rule at Mindful Chef. Healthy eating should always be delicious (and easy!). Meals as basic as just grilled chicken and steamed broccoli have become a thing of the past.
For the tastiest dishes, herbs and spices should be your best friends. Ready-made sauces, however, shouldn’t be. Most often ready-made sauces have lots of hidden calories, sugars or nasty additives in them. Instead, use spices and herbs like paprika, thyme, chilli and oregano to pack your meals with flavour.
4. Plan a weekly shop or food delivery
This is very important. Food shopping on a day-to-day basis is likely to be much more expensive, plus the temptation to pick up unnecessary extras will be too strong. If you have a plan of the meals you’re going to cook, you can either go for a big weekly food shop or have food delivered to your house. I have a Mindful Chef box delivered on a Sunday, so I can prep for the week ahead easily. I then do a separate shop mid-week for any extra bits I need in order to cook up the remaining ingredients I have.
5. Roast or slow cook
One of the best presents I’ve received in recent years has been my slow cooker – it makes batch cooking so much easier. It’s only the chopping of vegetables that takes up a bit of time. Once that’s done, I can throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker along with some herbs and spices, and after a few hours I’ve got a tasty stew or curry for many meals to come.
The same thing can be achieved by roasting a large batch of vegetables in the oven. Carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and broccoli all work really well, and can enjoyed either hot or cold afterwards.