A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO MEAL PREPPING
A healthy lifestyle doesn’t come easy. Just ask Katinka, she knows. In her monthly column, she shares her latest discoveries in the search for a balanced life. This month: How to eat healthy at the office.
Do you remember the feeling of opening your lunch box during school break and having twenty-five kids laugh at you because your mother made the big mistake of putting smelly marmite on your sandwiches? I do, and it’s why I decided to never bring a lunch box with me again for the rest of my life. But recently I’ve started opening my lunch box again every day and I’m actually very proud and happy with it.
The reason why is double-barreled. First of all, the many articles that have been published recently about the negative effects of sugar and, consequently, carbohydrates have inspired me. The second reason is more personal; when I started training I used to eat lots of carbs simply because I thought I needed them after burning so many calories. But instead of getting stronger, I was becoming skinnier by the week. Even after doubling my portions I was still losing too much weight and I often became ill after training. For some reason, it seemed that my body wasn’t able to recover. Then, I started to drink protein shakes after each training session, which helped, but I still didn’t feel fit enough in general.
In search of a solution and fascinated by all the negative effects of eating sugars, I decided to experiment with eating fewer carbohydrates and replacing them with more protein and vegetables. For example, instead of eating pasta for dinner I would eat fish and lots of vegetables. That wasn’t a complicated change and I really enjoyed it, so I decided to change my menu for lunch as well. That turned out to be a little more complex as I was used to eating in the office canteen at lunchtime. It took me a couple of days to pluck up the courage to start, but I did and decided to bring in a homemade fresh salad with vegetables and smoked chicken instead of my usual sandwiches.
Although the recipe is simple, the logistics of getting yourself to the office on time with a homemade salad certainly are not. My first lesson learned was never to stir-fry vegetables in the early morning when your hair is still wet and your husband’s hair is wet too. You will both smell like fried courgette for the rest of the day, and your husband will condemn any further attempt to embrace a healthy lifestyle when it comes to food in the future.
But anyway, I made it on time and at lunchtime, I took out my Tupperware box and tried to sit there as relaxed and as casual as possible in the office canteen. In fact, I felt terribly embarrassed, like I was in an audition for the healthy version of the new Bridget Jones’s Diary movie, while everyone stared at my lunch box and me.
After that day I took a different approach. I started to cook my lunch the evening before or I cooked twice as much for dinner and took the leftovers for lunch the next day. Wondering how other people with busy agendas are able to organise their healthy lifestyle, I discovered on the Internet that I wasn’t the only one struggling. I even found out that there is a verb for it: food prepping or meal prepping.
Long live the lunch box!
The aim of food prepping is simple: it helps you to eat healthier during the week because it should save you time in the kitchen. How? By preparing your office meals for the whole week on Sundays. You just need lots of plastic boxes and you need to make a weekly meal schedule. Of course, you can’t prepare everything completely in advance, but you can, for example, chop your vegetables and put them in containers ready to be cooked or marinate your chicken breasts and place them in the freezer. I’ve found so many tips and ideas online. Check this article by Kayla Itsines for example.
It might not be rocket science, but food prepping does make your healthy lifestyle more organised. So why not make life a little bit easier? Let’s prep and get over your lunch box traumas soon!