Prep for success

Words Jessica Sepel. Photography Jeremy Simons.

Many people feel that they don’t have the time to live the healthy life. We get it! Here are some of Jessica Sepel’s great tips to live healthily while saving time and stress.

You’ve heard of the saying ‘preparation is the key to success’? Well, when it comes to health and nutrition, this couldn’t be truer. Here’s how to make prep a part of your weekly routine.

Jessica Sepel’s step-by-step guide to Sunday prep

To make sure I stay on track with healthy eating, I spend an hour or two food prepping every Sunday or Monday. That way, I have everything I need to whip up a nutritious meal quickly, no matter how busy I get.

Try following these steps and prepping a few things this weekend, and I bet you’ll feel less overwhelmed during the week (and less inclined to order takeaway).

Plan your meals and snacks for the week

By doing this, you’ll know exactly what to shop for, and you won’t waste time or money. Once you’ve done that, write a shopping list for those recipes.

Go grocery shopping

Hit the farmers’ market or supermarket and shop efficiently.

Prepare food in bulk

Now it’s time to get cooking! Below is a list of my favourite foods to make in bulk, and how long they last in a good airtight container in the fridge:

  • Boiled eggs (2-3 days).
  • Brown rice and quinoa (2-3 days).
  • Grilled meat (2-3 days).
  • Roasted veges (2-3 days).
  • Raw veges e.g., chopped carrots, cucumber or beetroot (4-5 days).
  • Spiralised zucchini (3-4 days).
  • Salad mix e.g., lettuce, rocket, spinach, washed and dried (4-5 days).

Chop now, eat later

Speaking of veges, I wash and chop mine as soon as I buy them. Lettuce, carrots, cauliflower florets, broccoli, cucumber, kale… Anything I’ve just bought gets prepped when I get home. This takes 10-15 minutes, but it cuts down on prep time during the week, and it makes for super-easy roasting, stir-frying or steaming. It also makes it less likely that they’ll end up neglected at the bottom of the fridge.

I pre-rice

If brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower or broccoli ‘rice’ is on the menu for the week, I also make that on my prep day. It’s so easy to make cauliflower or broccoli rice: just pulse the raw vege in a food processor or finely chop until it reaches the consistency of rice, then store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. I love these rices as bases for a meal, and you can get really creative with the recipes or keep them super simple. Just gently fry the vege rice for a few minutes, add some protein and a healthy starch (such as sweet potato) and voilà! You’ve got a nutritionally balanced meal.

Learn to love a mason jar

I store raw nuts, seeds, flaxseed, superfoods, oats and almond meal in mason jars, and keep them in my fridge so they stay extra fresh. If your budget won’t stretch to mason jars, save glass jars after use.

Set your kitchen up to support healthy eating:

I arrange my kitchen to make cooking easy and effortless.

  • Set up a ‘flavour tray’ close to your cooking station Above my stove, I keep a tray of the ingredients I use the most to add flavour to my meals. The tray includes cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, tamari, garlic cloves, lemons, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, and fresh herbs and spices. This means I don’t waste time hunting in the pantry, because everything is within easy reach.
  • Equip yourself Have two sturdy roasting trays on hand so you can roast big batches of vegetables. Keep any appliances you’ll need for your prep session in easy reach and ready to go.
  • Clear some space You’ll need room to do your prep and enough storage space in your fridge and freezer for all that healthy prepped food. There’s nothing better after a busy day than remembering you’ve got a delicious meal ready in the freezer.
  • Stock up on storage If you can, invest in good-quality airtight food storage containers of varying sizes. If they also happen to be dishwasher-, freezer-, oven- AND microwave-safe, even better! You’ll be able to take your meal straight from the freezer to the oven, and then to the dishwasher without issue.
  • Use it or lose it Clear out your fridge and pantry regularly to identify any food that has either expired or is close to it. Move anything that needs to be used up to the front, so you’re reminded to use it.
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