food

The sneaky meal prep mistake you're probably making - and how to fix it.

Just putting this out there – being mates with meal prep is bloody hard.

You go to the supermarket on a Sunday morning, spend heaps of money on food for all the different recipes, then spend hours sweating and swearing over a hot stove and trying to mix things up in a food processor.

Not the most relaxing way to prepare for the working week ahead, is it?

I thought so too. Then, I heard a piece of meal prep advice from Katie Lolas – the expert behind popular meal prep Instagram account Lady Lolas – at an O Naked wellness event in Sydney.  Her advice was really obvious, but really helpful at the same time.

Side note – struggle to drink enough water? Here are some more exciting ways to guzzle water, post continues after video.

Video by MMC

It’s this: Don’t try to prep every single meal.

That’s correct – you don’t need to spend your entire Sunday prepping breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the whole week.

It’s basically the opposite of everything I’ve heard, read or seen on Instagram about meal prepping, but it makes so much sense.

“My number one tip for anyone who wants to give meal prep a go is to start slow. It’s important to remember that you don’t need to prep every meal,” Lolas told Mamamia.

“Pick your problem areas. For example, if you don’t have an issue cooking dinner but always seem to make unhealthy snack choices or you skip breakfast then spend your time prepping options that will make those times easier for you.”

How does this look in the real world? For example:

  • If you tend to skip breakfast or buy a croissant at 10am (nothing wrong with that, but perhaps not everyday), only prep breakfast.
  • If you eat a good breaky at home but are spending heaps on bought lunches, only prep lunch.
  • If you make good lunch choices but find yourself buying salty or sugary snacks in the afternoon, only prep snacks.
  • If you feel unmotivated by the time you clock off and are spending a house deposit on UberEats, only prep dinners.

In the wise words of Lolas, “Meal prep should make life easier”.

But… I am all of those things, what am I meant to do? you ask.

Don’t be fooled by Instagram photos of fridges filled with Tupperware containers and intense meal prep flat lays. Just like saying you’ll run every night when you’ve never run before, trying to meal prep every single meal when you’re used to buying lunches and ordering takeaway is setting yourself up to fail.

Eventually, you might decide meal prepping every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) makes your life easier and helps you stick to your goals, whether that’s eating healthier, saving money, whatever they may be. But that day doesn’t have to be the first day you start.

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After the O Naked event, I started following Lolas on her Instagram account @ladylolas and holy heck did I stumble across some of the best meal prep flat lays I’ve ever seen.

A 60 minute prep = a weeks worth of healthy homemade food sorted ????????‍♀️ ✅. . . This week’s prep includes: . . ????BREAKFAST – @yoproau vanilla yoghurt with homemade peanut butter granola (low-FODMAP recipe) topped with fresh strawberries. I’ll assemble the ingredients each morning in a small bowl. . . ????MORNING SNACK -???? Mandarin and small handful of mixed roasted nuts ????. . ????LUNCH – Healthy homemade minestrone (also a Low FODMAP recipe). . . ????AFTERNOON SNACK- Pro Baller in Lean Choc peanut butter. ????????‍♀️. Available exclusively at @getnked.. . ❤️DINNER – Never pictured. Always made fresh. . . ???? comment below if you want me to add the minestrone or granola recipes to my blog ???? and don’t forget to use hashtag #LLmealprep and tag me when you post your prep or use one of my recipes ???? . . . . Happy prepping!

A post shared by Katie Scarlett Lolas (@lady.lolas) on

Even though Lolas preps breakfast, lunch, mid-morning snacks and afternoon snacks each week, which you don’t have to if that’s too much to begin with, I’m finding her recipes and meal prep photos are great inspiration for what could work for my lifestyle.

Seeing the way she stores food (for example, how the milk in overnight oats jars keeps in the fridge for a week and packing lunch wrap stuff separately so they won’t be soggy when you go to eat them) is also really helpful.

SO MANY meal prep recipes exist on the internet, here are a couple of meal prep options from Lolas’ account I’ve been loving.

Breakfast meal prep.

Overnight oats.

Hello Hello ????????! I’ve had so many questions regarding overnight oats, so I thought I’d share the recipe with you again and answer some questions. FYI I’ve added the recipe to my soon to be released website ???? AND included a few fruit and grain combinations for you to choose from as well ????, but don’t be afraid to come up with your own creations and change the amounts to suit your taste and needs! . INGREDIENTS: ⭐️4/5 tablespoons of rolled oats (I use a homebrand, they’re inexpensive and excellent for this recipe). . ⭐️Enough fruit to fill a quarter of the mason jar. I’ve used mango, blueberries and raspberries, pictured. But you can use any seasonal fruit combination you enjoy. . ⭐️1 teaspoon of chia seeds . ⭐️ Small handful of cashew nuts. ⭐️Sprinkle of coconut flakes. . METHOD: . 1️⃣. Combine everything in a small jar, including milk (ensure fruit is covered) and shake. 2️⃣. Set in the fridge overnight. 3️⃣. Eat in the morning! Heat up or eat cold, whatever you prefer! . . Your questions answered: . . ✳️Q. Does the fruit last all week? Yes, a combination of the milk and refrigeration helps preserve the fruit perfectly! ✳️Q. When do you add the milk? I add milk to ALL jars on the same day I make them. . ✳️Q. Can you use water instead of milk? I haven’t tried it myself and I can’t imagine it would taste great, but if anyone tries it, let me know how you go? I regularly change the type of milk I use from lite A2 milk, soymilk, almond milk etc.

A post shared by Katie Scarlett Lolas (@lady.lolas) on

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You could also do boiled eggs in Tupperware containers with avocado, spinach and fetta to put on toast in the morning.

Lunch meal prep.

Chicken wraps.

I have found that planning, preparing, and portioning my meals ahead of time is one of the most effective tools to keep my food and budget in check ????. Today’s prep took me 30mins and cost me $37.00. The only part I cooked was the chicken breast . I’m spending the afternoon with friends so I kept my prep as quick as possible! Have you thought about how you’re going to stay on track this week? Xx . . This week’s menu includes: . . ????BREAKFAST – berry, apple cinnamon and vanilla overnight oats. . ????MORNING SNACK – tuna on ryvita crackers. . . ????LUNCH – shredded chicken breast with hummus, baby spinach, tomatoes, carrot and cucumber wraps ???? (my colleagues love these). . ????AFTERNOON SNACK- @yoproau yoghurt. . ❤️DINNER – never pictured, always made fresh. . ???? Use hashtag #LLmealprep and tag me @lady.lolas when you post your prep or use one of my recipes so I can see your creations ????

A post shared by Katie Scarlett Lolas (@lady.lolas) on

Salad sandwiches with a protein source.

I started out meal-prepping to manage my IBS symptoms but one of the reasons I continue is that it saves me time. During the week I don’t have to think about what to eat because I always have wholesome homemade goodness available when I need it. . . This week’s prep includes: . . ????BREAKFAST – In support of our Australian farmers I’ve made choc-strawberry overnight oats ✊. Remember, we should be cautious during this time, but there’s no need avoid buying fruit all together – try not to buy into the hysteria, our farmers need us!. . . ????MORNING SNACK – Bounce protein ball they’re on sale at Woolies atm if anyone’s interested. . ????LUNCH – Sambo goodness! Burgen soy Lin bread, with egg, alfalfa, baby spinach, tomato, beetroot and avocado . I kept the lids off a couple of my @DecorAustralia containers so you can see what’s inside again – loving the layered storage and I’ll put together my ???? just before eating. . . ????AFTERNOON SNACK- @yoproau yoghurt my fave and a piece of fruit. . . ❤️DINNER – Scott and I order the @hellofreshau Classic ???? for two. Use code ‘KATIE40’ for 40% off your first box. . . ???? Use hashtag #LLmealprep and tag me when you post your prep so I can share your creations ???? . . . . . #DecorAustralia #sp

A post shared by Katie Scarlett Lolas (@lady.lolas) on

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Mexican bowl.

❤️Q. Do I get sick of eating the same thing everyday? ✅A. No and last time I checked, I only prep for four lunches out of a seven day week ????. ❤️Q. When do you add milk to your overnight oats? ✅A. I add milk to all fives oats on Sunday afternoon????.❤️Q. Do you freeze your lunches and how do they last? ✅. My lunches are stored the fridge at home/work and the last perfectly fine until Thursday ????. ❤️Q. How tall are you? ✅A. 182cms for about the 100373639494838924884 time ???? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????Breakfast – overnight oats w/lite soy milk, strawberries, blueberries, 1 scoop of LSA, cashew nuts and 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder by @natural_health_company ????Morning snacks – cruskets, lite Philadelphia cheese and popcorn ????. ????Lunch – Mexican veal mince w/ lettuce, tomato, corn and lite cheese ???? + @aussiebodies low-carb protein bar ????Afternoon snacks – Chobani yoghurt in blueberry of coconut/steal flavours + a banana. ????Dinner – fresh on my instastory???? #LLMealprep

A post shared by Katie Scarlett Lolas (@lady.lolas) on

Dinner meal prep.

Bolognese with zucchini noodles.

My my top three reasons for meal prepping: 1️⃣It saves me time and money during the week. . 2️⃣It helps me manage my food intolerances because I have control over the ingredients I add to my lunches. . 3️⃣ It stops me from reaching for unhealthy fast foods. . ???????????? . This week’s prep includes: . . ????BREAKFAST – vanilla, mango and blueberry overnight oats w/ unsweetened almond milk. . . ????MORNING SNACK – @yoproau yoghurt and a banana. . ????LUNCH – lean meatballs w/ zoodles ????????. Do you want the recipe for this one? let me know below and if I get enough interest I’ll type it up tonight ????. . . ????AFTERNOON SNACK- @cleantreatsfactory choc chip cookie dough ball and @tropeaka boost smoothie. . ❤️DINNER – As usual it’s @hellofreshau ????????????. Use code ‘LADYLOLAS40’ for 40% off your first box. . ???? Use hashtag #LLmealprep and tag me @lady.lolas when you post your prep or use one of my recipes so I can share your creations on my story ???? .

A post shared by Katie Scarlett Lolas (@lady.lolas) on

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Chicken and veggie stirfry.

Stay committed to your decisions, but flexible in your approach ????. Super proud of myself for making time to prep despite being at the @minding.her.business event for most of the day ????????. . This week’s prep includes: . . ????BREAKFAST – Banana, choc and strawberry overnight oats. I use @tropeaka Boost protein and Cocoa powders to create the chocolate flavour. . . ????MORNING SNACK – Cobs popcorn. . ????LUNCH – sweet chili, lime and basil chicken stir fry. . ????AFTERNOON SNACK- @chobaniau coconut yoghurt. . ❤️DINNER – I use the Classic HelloFresh Box ???? ????. . . . ????Use the hashtag #LLmealprep (Lady Lolas Meal Prep) when you post your prep or use one of my recipes so I can share your creations on my story ????❤️ xo . Containers by @mealprepaustralia x

A post shared by Katie Scarlett Lolas (@lady.lolas) on

Whatever recipes you like, Lolas recommends making sure you prep a wide range of nutrients.

“I try to cover the important bases of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. As a rough guide, I aim to my create meals that include 50 per cent colourful non-starchy veggies, 25 per cent lean protein and 25 per cent whole grains or a Low GI carbohydrate,” she said.

“Lastly, I always start cooking with whatever takes the longest and have a few things going at once.”

By applying these tips to one problem area (mine is work lunches), meal prep doesn’t feel quite so much like a big, scary, expensive, sweaty Sunday chore.

You can find more of Lolas’ recipes on her blog Lady Lolas, and more information on O NAKED wellness and business events here.

Feature image: Unsplash/Ella Olsson.

Do you meal prep? What tips do you use to stay on track?

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