Healthy meal prep

Right, we’ve all been there. You’re starving after finished a long day, have forgotten the shops close at 4pm on Sunday, or simply can’t find the energy to chop onions and garlic in preparation for a set of nights.

You want something healthy, filling, quick and easy- that doesn’t break the bank or use 10,000 pans. In this short article I am going to *try* to cover something for everyone. Whether you are vegan/veggie/protein junkie or can’t stand the sight of eggs, hopefully you can all take away a tip or two to help fuel future shifts.

Basics
Equipment
  • Look at your equipment. If all you have is a microwave and a hob, we can work with that. I am biased but I highly recommend an air fryer if you live alone/cook for one. It heats up so quickly, makes the crispiest tofu and saves the planet by using less energy as you go! I got one for <£50 on amazon (other sites are available) and have definitely got my money’s worth.
  • I also love a nutribullet/smoothie maker (creamy quick sauces and dips) and you can’t go wrong with a good selection of Tupperware and some reusable cutlery.
  • The freezer is your best friend! I know it’s not always easy finding space in it when you have shared houses but literally anything can be frozen. This includes fresh herbs, bread, fresh ginger, and peeled garlic cloves. Buying bags of frozen spinach or chopped peppers makes things so much easier- no need to chop/buy fresh as you can just throw them straight into the pan from frozen. You can also obviously freeze your pre-cooked meals and take them out whenever you need them.
  • Buying frozen food is often much cheaper too, I always keep bags of frozen berries in the freezer then sprinkle a few on my yogurt/porridge when I need.
  • Investing in some non-leak freezer bags can help save space- any liquid meals like soups/curries etc you can lie flat on top of each other in bags and pack more in.
Store cupboard
  • Have some good basics in your store cupboard like passata, jars of beans, spices, coconut milk, stock cubes and lentils.
  • I always have onions, garlic and ginger. You can buy chopped frozen onions, jarred ginger and garlic paste or freeze fresh ginger and garlic cloves then grate them when you need. Sainsbury’s has started selling frozen garlic and ginger I have noticed.
  • Mango chutney goes great in curries, some lemon juice never goes amiss and having frozen herbs to add to things is a lifesaver.
  • You can buy tinned beans/chickpeas but jarred is usually much nicer! Don’t pay a ridiculous amount for fancy branded ones in a big supermarket, see if you can find a local halal/international shop which usually has jars of legumes for much cheaper. The tahini from these places is usually top tier so keep an eye out for it.
  • Similarly, an Asian supermarket can supply you with crispy chilli oil, sesame oil, soya sauce, kimchi, dry noodles and all the other goodies that can really elevate a dish.
Breakfasts

I’ll admit it, I used to be that person that ‘didn’t have time for breakfast’. I still sometimes don’t, and that’s ok too. Not everyone is a breakfast person. However, if you do get hangry mid-morning during the longest ward round of your life, it’s always good to have something like this in the staff fridge to keep you going.

Overnight oats

This might seem like an effort at the time but you can batch-make enough to keep you going for the week. Oats are a great source of fibre and should keep you full for longer than more processed breakfast cereals.

Ingredients (serves 2);

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup yogurt

Method;

  1. Combine oats, milk and yoghurt (dairy or non-dairy) in a ratio of 1:1:1. If it looks too wet or dry for your liking you can alter this ratio slightly. Just remember the oats will soak up the liquid over time.
  2. The rest is up to your own personal taste. Things I like to add include (not necessarily all together);
    • Cinnamon
    • Grated apple or pear
    • Chopped nuts
    • Raisins (these will swell over time so if you don’t like that add them last minute)
    • Linseed
    • Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
    • Cacao nibs
    • Vanilla extract
    • Lemon juice
    • Honey
    • Frozen berries
    • Peanut butter
    • Coconut
Picture1 1
Yogurt bowl

This is VERY low effort, unsure if I can even call it a recipe. Perfect for a quick high-protein snack or breakfast.

Ingredients (serves 2);

  • 1 cup frozen berries/fresh fruit
  • 2 cups yogurt

Method;

  1. Add some frozen berries/fresh fruit to a Tupperware
  2. Top with yoghurt of your choice (I usually try to go for a high protein plain or natural yoghurt with as few ingredients as possible)
  3. Add honey/jam/maple syrup/vanilla extract to sweeten to your taste.
  4. You can also add any of the additional toppings I suggested in overnight oats to pimp it up! Just depends on how lazy you feel.
2 1
Frittata slice

For those who prefer a savoury breakfast option, this can be made in advance and eaten hot or cold.

Ingredients (serves 4);

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful frozen/fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Handful grated cheddar
  • Optional; feta/sweet potato/frozen peas, coriander/chives/parsley/bacon/chorizo/tomatoes

Method;

  1. Line a deep metal tray with baking paper and pour in chopped onions & veg of your choice.
  2. Whisk eggs with salt and pepper then pour over veg
  3. Add grated cheese and bacon/chorizo if you like.
  4. Bake in the oven until the egg is fully cooked then cut into slices once cooled.
3
Lunches

I’m all about the cook once eat four times, so hopefully these recipes are ones you can store in the fridge/freezer and use when you need.

Egg fried rice
  • This is my GO TO quick lunch/dinner option
  • If you don’t eat eggs, swap for tofu or meat alternative
  • I often use packets of microwave rice to save time but if you have leftover rice this recipe is perfect and reduces food waste.
  • If you can be bothered with onions and garlic, chop and fry these first. I often miss it out due to laziness but it tastes even better with them in.
  • This is a veggie version (apart from the oyster sauce) but bacon/meat goes great too if you want to add it!
  • You can add a little bit of ketchup if you like the flavour
  • Finely sliced fried cabbage also works AMAZINGLY
  • Fresh veg works just as well as frozen so feel free to use that too, just remember to cut small and it may take slightly longer to cook
  • If adding the eggs in freaks you out, just make the rice without eggs then serve with a crispy fried egg on top.
5

Ingredients (serves 2);

  • 2 cups rice
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup frozen mixed veg
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional; kimchi

Method;

  1. Start by frying your rice in a pan with some vegetable oil.
  2. Add your frozen mixed veg. (I buy one from Lidl that includes chopped carrots, green beans and peas and sweetcorn). This will defrost in the pan in a matter of minutes.
  3. Push the rice to the side of the pan and make a well for your eggs
  4. Break in eggs and mix them together with the spoon in the pan until the yolks and whites combine. Alternatively, you could mix them before adding to the pan.
  5. Once the eggs are firm you can start to fold them into the rest of your rice. I like my egg in larger pieces however mix as much as you want to your desired size.
  6. Add soya sauce, oyster sauce and sriracha. Adjust to taste.
  7. Add kimchi if you like kimchi, fermented food is great for your gut and opened jars keep in the fridge for ages.
  8. Just before you take the pan off the heat add some sesame oil. Sesame oil loses its flavour when it’s fried for too long so just add at the end if possible.
Roast veggies with tahini

This recipe is sooo easy once it’s in the oven you can just forget about it. Take the sauce with you to work in a separate container or just pour over the veg when you portion it up.

Ingredients (serves 2);

  • 500g sweet potato
  • 240g drained cooked chickpeas
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 200g tenderstem broccoli
  • Optional; crispy chilli oil, spring onions, chopped nuts
  • Tahini sauce;
    • 4tbsp runny tahini
    • 1 tsp honey/sugar/maple syrup
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • Salt, to taste
    • Water, to loosen
4

Method;

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.
  2. Chop sweet potato into long wedges
  3. Pat dry chickpeas
  4. Place sweet potato and chickpeas into a roasting tray and drizzle over 1tsp oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast in the oven for approx. 20 mins.
  6. Meanwhile, deseed and slice peppers thickly
  7. After the 20 mins are up, remove the tray from the oven and add chopped peppers and tenderstem broccoli. Add a little more oil and seasoning, toss to coat the veg.
  8. Roast for another 10-12 mins or until all the veg is cooked through and the veg is going crispy.
  9. While the veg roasts, make the tahini sauce.
  10. Mix all the ingredients together in a jug. Add water to reach your desired consistency. I like my sauce warm so use boiling water, but you can also use cold. If you want to microwave the sauce do so carefully so it doesn’t burn. You can also heat gently in a pan.
  11. Once the veg is done, pour over the sauce. Top with sliced spring onions, crispy chilli oil and chopped nuts! (I love toasted walnuts or almonds).
Dinners
Red lentil dahl

This is so cheap, delicious and makes colossal amounts. Disclaimer: can make you gassy (worth it in my opinion but those at work may disagree…). It seems like a lot of ingredients but actually everything can be kept in a store cupboard, no fresh ingredients are necessary if you freeze your onions, garlic and ginger. I like fresh coriander but you can use frozen.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic clothes
  • 2 tsp ginger minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala/curry powder
  • 300g dry red lentils
  • 780ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp mango chutney (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3tbsp lemon juice to taste

To serve (optional);

  • Rice
  • Coriander
  • Yoghurt
  • Naan
6

Method;

  1. Heat the oil, and add chopped onions in a large pan. Fry for a few minutes until soft, then add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add spices and cook for a minute longer to allow them to release their flavour.
  3. Rinse lentils then add to pan along with veg stock, tinned tomatoes and coconut milk.
  4. Simmer the dahl for approx. 30 mins, stirring regularly to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. I often add more water as I go, to stop it getting too thick.
  5. Once your lentils are soft and all the water has been absorbed, turn the heat off. Add mango chutney, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Top with yoghurt and coriander and serve with rice/naan.
Cheats poké bowl
  • I usually make a vegan version of this but feel free to use cooked salmon/tuna/chicken instead of tofu
  • Itsu sriracha seaweed thins are the best nori IMO and can be bought at large supermarkets including Sainsbury’s. However, if anyone has any other brand recommendations please let me know.
  • If you don’t like kale use any other green leafy veg!

Ingredients (serves 2);

  • 100g firm tofu, drained
  • 1 packet microwavable rice (or make it fresh)
  • 1 bag curly kale
  • Sriracha
  • Mayo (vegan or normal)
  • Soya sauce
  • 1 pack itsu nori thins

Method;

  1. Get a large pan with a lid and shake in all the kale
  2. Add approx. 1 inch of water to the bottom of the pan and close the lid to allow it to steam
  3. After 5 mins, lie 1cm thick slices of tofu over the kale and place the lid back on
  4. Allow this to steam for another 2 mins
  5. Meanwhile, microwave your rice
  6. Once your rice is cooked, split it between 2 bowls/Tupperware and top each with half the kale and tofu
  7. Shake over some soya sauce to taste, and then drizzle over mayo and sriracha to your liking
  8. Eat with nori thins (I spoon some of the mixture into the thins then eat it like a mini wrap)
8
Inspiration

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas, I have lots more up my sleeve so expect another recipe or 2 in the coming months!

For further inspiration check out some of my favourites on Instagram;

  • @christinasots
  • @rhi.scran
  • @sophsplantkitchen
  • @thegreedymodel
  • @emthenutritionist
  • @mob
  • @natsnourishments

I also have my own food page @bizzy_eats , I don’t post that regularly due to work commitments but there are a few good recipes on there that I keep going back to! Enjoy 🙂

Written by Dr Izzy Macdonald FY2

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