food

Meal prep like a pro: 7 tips that'll make 2018 the year you finally stop buying your lunch.

At the end of the day there are only two types of people that truly exist in the office environment.

Those that bring their lunches from home and those that don’t.

You see, the latter marvel at how the former manage to organise their post-work time so efficiently.

Sure they say it doesn’t actually take that much time, it’s really just a bit of meal prep and yet… how do they do it you wonder?

The cold, hard truth is that we all know that the home-bought lunch ultimately reigns supreme. It’s usually healthier and infinitely more cost-effective, and if you were to consider smug points acquired and the ‘I’ve got my sh*t together’ kind of feeling it gives, bringing your lunch to work practically pays for itself.

So, in order to make 2018 the year where resolutions become action items and lack-lustre, deli sandwiches and kinda-good salads magically turn into DIY burrito bowls, we asked some of Mamamia’s best and brightest for their top bring your lunch to work hacks.

LISTEN: What does Trump have for lunch? Mia Freedman and Amelia Lester take a look at the President’s ridiculously unhealthy Day on a Plate. (Post continues after audio.)

 For the absolute beginner: The store-all-your-ingredients-at-your-desk food hack.

If Uber Eats is your best friend, you haven’t made nice with your kitchen (and you don’t really plan to start) and to be honest you don’t really mind buying lunch, bar the fact that you’ve made it a New Year’s Resolution to save money, this tip is for you.

For the abosolute rookie, Deputy Editor Valentina Todoroska’s top tip comes in the form of a frozen meal courtesy of our favourite personal trainer Michelle Bridges.

“They’re only $6.50 and stay in the freezer. Definitely cheaper than going out and buying my lunch and saves on the prep (or for people who can’t cook like me) and they actually taste really good,” she says.

MIchelle Bridges
There's no shame in buying frozen. Image via Instagram.

Otherwise Adam's trick of buying cheap, ingredients to easily throw into a salad is super easy.

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"I'll get one of a brown rice cup from the supermarket, a can of tuna (I like the flavoured ones so it's not too bland) and a can of veggies (asparagus or corn). It's an instant healthy meal under five dollars and you don't feel like you're missing out," he says.

"And it's cheap - because you can get the tuna on sale, I'm as satisfied eating that as I am eating a salad from the shops, and it's healthy and not full of unknown things."

And clearly it's something that's working because Adam's gone from doing this from once a week, to now twice, to sometimes three times... and you can too.

The lazy gal's guide to meal prep.

While if you solely live your life on Instagram - the words meal prep might strike fear-induced images of perfectly stacked Tupperware containers, but it doesn't have to be like that.

Take Senior Editor's Polly Taylor's easy hack.

"On a Sunday night I buy one of those hot chickens from Coles, cut it up and divide it between four lunch boxes. Then I batch cook vegies like green beans and asparagus or just use fresh stuff like spinach and tomatoes. I also do a batch of hard boiled eggs to chuck in salads.

"On the fifth day I give myself permission to have whatever I want, although sometimes I will just make another similar salad," she says.

packed lunch to work
Buy a roast chicken and have your lunches prepared for the rest of the week. Image via Getty.

However, while pre-made salads can get boring after you're eating the same thing day in, day out, but meal prep wiz Implementation Executive, Faith Murphy-Miller has some easy, flavourful tips.

Also, Faith is also a bit of an office snack queen and counts popcorn, rice cakes and peanut butter as her desk-side essentials.

"I meal prep every Sunday for the week. Personally, I don't have an issue with cooking chicken on a Sunday and leaving it in the fridge til Friday (I know some people do).

"I generally do a taco bowl or something like that because the flavours keep things interesting. If I'm having a salad, I make sure I have lots of herbs and feta so it doesn't get boring by day three.

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"I also always use a different seasoning or marinade on my chicken each week. Also, chilli oil, all of the chilli oil!"

Go-to, meal-prep recipes

The obvious easy solution to always having something to bring to work is cooking a bit extra for dinner the night before and utilising leftovers and we've got two simple go-to recipes that any rookie chef can make.

Our resident tuna-hating, wordsmith Jessica Chambers has crunched all the numbers and figured out that for under $4 per serve (that's less than a coffee), her favourite quiche recipe is an easy lunchtime saviour.

Make this your new go-to quiche recipe. Image supplied.

"You're looking at $3 for eggs, maybe $5 for ham, and then maybe $2 for all the other ingredients. Then you have four serves, that end up being $2.50 per serve. Plus I'll serve it with a quarter of a $3 bag of salad mix for a bit of veggie content.

"I'll make it on Sunday, eat it fresh on Monday, and freeze the other three serves then take them out of the freezer as I need because I like to alternate it with a salad for lunch or something else."

A leftover fan as well, Strategy Manager Camila Lecaros livens it up with minor ingredient changes.

"It's easier to cook for four than it is for two," she says.

"To keep it interesting cook something that you can change. For example, last night's tacos can easily be turned into a burrito bowl for  lunch using extra leftovers and brown rice."

New year saving goals here we come.

If you have any genius lunch tips... go-to recipes, need-to-know tips or supermarket wonder, make sure you share them in the comments below! 

LISTEN: Dual sportswoman Ellyse Perry shares her day on a plate on our podcast profiling amazing women - I Don't Know How She Does It.

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