Getting Ahead with Meal Prep

Eight bags are lined up on a counter full of spiced chicken and vegetables

Since coming back from holiday in June life has changed around Lemon Cake HQ as we try to lose some weight by cooking more from scratch and cutting out snacking. All has been going well for the last 3 months and we’re both about 2 stone lighter, so that’s great.

The key for us has been meal planning which we’ve always known was the right thing to do but somehow we could never get into the groove. Now we seem to have found our rhythm with it and have been stocking our freezer with healthy home-cooked food which is ready to go and cuts out those spur of the moment ‘deliveroo dilemmas’ as I like to call them. (As a side note, deliveroo being available at Lemon Cake HQ seriously increased our ordering of food which, while convenient, wasn’t good for our waistlines or wallet!)

We’ve managed about two months of solid meal planning now, and we also make as much as we can ahead of time and really use the freezer well. We batch cook one big meal a week (curry, chilli, bolognese, ratatouille, stew) and freeze several portions so that in any given week we could have two or three different home-made dinners from the freezer.

This week one of our favourites was given the meal prep treatment. We love Mexican food and Burrito Bowl is a go-to staple of our weekday dinner repertoire. Home made pico de gallo, guacamole or sliced avocado, ┬áchipotle chicken, spiced peppers and onions, lime and coriander rice and then a blob of sour cream and a sprinkling of cheese. As a cheat we often use microwavable brown rice packets as it’s quick and easy. The final result is a bowl of yummy.

A bowl of food including rice, chicken, peppers & onions, avocado and salsa with sour cream in the centre
Burrito Bowl!

The one problem is that Burrito Bowl takes quite a bit of prep as I usually marinate the chicken, and there’s lots of chopping as I make the salsa, flavour the rice, make a guacamole etc. On a weekday evening after work it can be a lot of effort. That’s why this week we did one mammoth chopping session and made enough for five dinners worth, eating one, and freezing four. We diced and marinated all the chicken, and have frozen bags of the chicken ready to defrost and cook when we need it. We did the same for the peppers and onions and added the spices to the bags.

Eight bags are lined up on a counter full of spiced chicken and vegetables
Burrito Bowl Bags all ready to go!

Now when we go to make Burrito Bowl we just need to make the salsa and buy some rice, avocados and sour cream (we always have cheese in the fridge – can’t live without it!) The salsa we can also use in a salad for lunch the next day so the effort of the chopping can be used over more than one meal.

I know meal prep can be dull for many people, but I am someone who loves to chop. Chopping vegetables evenly and quickly is one of my small joys in life. I think it’s because it’s an easily completable task which can be done precisely in a relatively short time, and you can compete against your past self to be better than last time. I find it very therapeutic and love seeing the result which in this case, was all these bags for the freezer. Win win. Productive and tasty.