Pre-planning your weekly menu and preparing your meals in advance can really help you to stay on track with your healthy eating after you’ve had bariatric surgery.
That’s why we’ve put together this blog which shares some basics about meal prepping and tips to get started (and make it part of your routine!)
What is Meal Prep and What Does it Involve?
Meal preparation refers to preparing meals or meal components in advance.
There are four main types of meal preparation techniques:
- Cooking in bulk i.e. making a big batch of a meal at once and freezing it for use later on
- Preparing and storing individually portioned meals and/or snacks ahead of time so you can grab and go as needed
- Prepping ingredients by chopping or cooking them beforehand and using those ingredients in meals later on
- Purchasing ready-to-eat meals and simply reheating when needed
What are the Benefits of Meal Preparation?
By putting in effort ahead of time or during the weekend, you are able to:
- Save time during the busy work week
- Make healthier choices because your meals and snacks are already prepared and ready-to-eat. Research shows that people often tend to make impulsive decisions and poorer choices on what to eat when they are hungry
- Save money by not buying takeaway food or eating out frequently
- Reduce stress during the week, as you have one less thing to worry about
How to Start Meal Prepping
Start with the one meal that you find gives you the most grief.
For example, if you find that you are constantly in a rush in the morning and as a result skip breakfast, focus on meal prepping for this meal first. For instance you could:
- Boil and peel some eggs on the weekend and refrigerate them
- Prepare and freeze savory muffins on the weekend and re-heat as needed
- Put your smoothie ingredients in a blender the night before, so all you have to do in the morning is blend it
- Buy individually portioned high protein yoghurt tubs
- Make overnight muesli the night before
This will save you time in the morning, and ensure you have a nutritious breakfast.
Personally, dinners during the week give me the most grief. I prefer cooking dinner every night, as I love variety, so cooking in bulk does not work well with my family.
I have found that by writing down a rough meal plan on the weekend, I am able to buy just the right amount of ingredients I need, which reduces wastage and saves $. Moreover, I come home from work knowing exactly what I will be cooking, as I have already planned this on the weekend.
Sample Meal Plan
A sample meal plan could look something like the below:
Other Tips for Meal Prepping
- Trial which style of meal preparation works best for you and your lifestyle. If you really dislike monotony with your meals, bulk cooking will not work well for you
- Ensure you have adequate airtight food storage containers of different shapes and sizes. Airtight containers not only keep bacteria out, but also protect the flavour and lock moisture in. Some helpful storage containers for post bariatric surgery include the E-zy Snax containers, zip lock bags and bento style lunch boxes.
- Ensure food is stored safely to avoid food going bad. Generally speaking, refrigerated meals usually last in the fridge for 2-4 days, or can be frozen for 3-4 months. Re-heat adequately (over 60 degrees Celsius)
- To further save time, buy ready-to-eat pre-portioned snacks. For examples of such snacks, head over to our High Protein Snacks for Bariatric Patients blog post.