How I meal prep and still eat intuitively
Like all good millenials with the burden of student debt and a conflicting ASOS addiction, I make myself feel a tiny bit better about my floundering finances by not spending six quid on a tiny Pret sarnie every working day. TLDR: I meal prep.
Every Sunday I have a little look at what’s lurking in the fridge or what’s been forgotten at the back of a cupboard and figure out what my boyfriend and I are going to eat for the week. I try to hit the sweet spot of using up any perishables so we don’t waste any food, pick three recipes that sound good and make big enough batches that we do minimal cooking during the week. We both commute about 45 minutes to work, so you don’t tend to get much change out of an evening, so any time we can save on cooking and spend watching Netflix is what we covet.
This week for example, we had a spare broccoli crown kickin’ back in the veg drawer, some frozen cauliflower in the freezer and half a packet of quinoa so we’ll be having this salad for lunch al desko. We love Elly Pear’s approach to meal prepping and constantly go back to this tomato and coconut dhal which we’ll make in a huge batch and eat with greens and naan. My boyfriend also bought about 12 packets of gnocchi when he spotted it for about 60p in Aldi, so we’ll be chowing down on one of our favourite dinners one night this week.
This way we save money, limit waste, and eat delicious, filling, (mostly) vegan food that you can make in bulk.
If you’ve read my blog before, you know my schtick: I eat whatever I want, whenever I want and have worked really hard to heal my relationship with food. So how does intuitive eating work with meal planning, I hear you ask? How do I eat what I want when I’ve planned it four, five, six days in advance? How do I listen to my body when the only option I’ve got is already sat in the fridge?
So far, intuitive eating and meal planning have slotted together very nicely for me, and I think it’s because of the following things:
I don’t have any rules to rebel against
Since I don’t have rigid or strict rules around my diet- I don’t have a meal plan or points to track or ‘syns’ to avoid- I don’t rebel against it. There’s no forbidden fruit, there’s nothing off limits that I covet but can’t have, there's nothing I wish I was really eating when I pull out that evening's portion or pre-made dinner. The relinquishing of control and just making food that looks tasty means I never really question whether I want to eat something or not.
I cook stuff that is genuinely tasty
I don’t pick meals based on nutrients or calories or ‘virtue’- I make stuff that we know we’ll genuinely look forward to eating and will make satisfying meals. Always. No ifs, no buts. No low carb day, no sugar free day, no cheat day. That way, I never feel deprived, either mentally or physically because I'm always eating what I want.
I cook something new every week
Maybe I’m just a person of simple pleasures, but I don’t get too bored of eating similar meals for a week or so. We tend to pick 3 dishes to have across the week for lunches and dinners, so we do get some choice on what we fancy each day, but what ensures that we do get some variety is by picking at least one new dish to make per week. On a Sunday morning I’ll sit with a cup of coffee, some cookbooks and torn out pages of BBC Good Food mag and pick out a new recipe that looks tasty. It makes me want to cry a little bit that when I was seriously disordered I had a subscription to BBC Good Food and would pour over its pages but never actually make anything. Not because I couldn't be arsed, but because I told myself I wasn't allowed. It's nice that I kept them and can put them to good use now, and it's a real, tangible reminder of how far I've come. We supplement the new recipe with a couple of old favourites and odds are we’ll probably go out for at least one dinner too.
I don’t take it too seriously
If I’ve planned to have curry but really, really want cheesey beans on toast, you can bet that I’ll be opening up that tin of Heinz quicker than you can say ’57 varieties’. The curry will keep until tomorrow- it's more important to me to stay in the practice of listening to my body than it is to force myself to eat something that doesn't sound good.
I supplement with snacks
I also make sure that each week our shopping list is packed with snacks. Making sure there’s always something like fruit, cereal bars, nuts, carrots, hummus available to me both at work and at home means I never get overly hungry and keep on responding to my body’s needs.
That, and I always have pudding.
I'd love to hear more thoughts on this and your fave batch-cook recipes (mainly because I'm 97 years old and actually relish hearing this type of stuff).