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Building a meal plan and batch cooking

Probably the most important part of starting out on a more healthy lifestyle is getting into a routine.  Meal planning is key – especially when you are learning about what nutritional values different foods bring and how to put them together to hit your calorie and macro targets.

Lifestyle hack: batch cooking

We all have one or two nights per week that are less busy than others, so we recommend using these times to pre-cook your meals.  While nothing tastes as good as freshly prepared meals, most of us do not have a lifestyle that allows us to cook all of our meals at every sitting.  Spending an hour or two each week grilling several chicken breasts or roasting vegetables can go a long way in making sure you’re prepared all week.

Step 1. Work out your target macros for each meal

In order to work out how much you need to cook and determine portion size, start by breaking down your target daily calories and macros into meal portions.  The table below is just an example, but you can obviously choose the number of meals and weightings according to your lifestyle so someone doing more exercise might have more meals in the day, include post work-out meals or add more protein shakes.

What are my daily calorie and macro targets by meal?

BreakfastLunchDinnerSnackTotalWeighting30%30%30%10%100%Daily calories6846846842282,280Protein (g)42g42g42g14g140gCarbs (g)75g75g75g25g250gFat (g)24g24g24g8g80g

To work out your daily target calories, check out our goal-setting feature on our App or read this blog.  For details on calculating your macro allocation, read this blog.

Step 2.  Schedule your weekly meal plan

Now that you have your target calories and macros for each meal start to work out what you need to prep for and what meals will hit your macros.  In this example, I am assuming that most days I will be eating out so I am only going to focus on Breakfasts and Lunches.

Which meals do I need to prep for?


Step 3. Build your meals

Now you know which meals you are preparing, start to build a menu for your self.  Think about building your plates by choosing foods that will help you hit your macro targets.  There are a number of great blogs on different meals and snacks that play with the ratio of protein, carbs and fat (so follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with it all).

However, if you feel overwhelmed you can always go back to basics and build your plate using key ingredients to hit each macro group.

Good sources of protein:

  • Meats (lean or fatty) like beef, steak or wild game; poultry such as chicken and turkey; seafood like wild caught fish and shellfish; high quality deli meats; dairy like Greek Yoghurt, milk and cottage cheese; whey and protein shakes; jerky; beans and lentils; tofu and tempeh.

Good sources of carbohydrates:

  • Vegetables; fruits; oats; pasta; whole grain breads; beans; legumes; quinoa; sprouted grains; potatoes; rice; buckwheat.

Good sources of fats:

  • Saturated fats (animal fats): fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, coconut, butter, cheese, full fat dairy products.

  • Monounsaturated fats: nuts, avocados, olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut butter, macadamia nuts, egg yolks, almonds.

  • Polyunsaturated fats: walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, fish, chia seeds, grapeseed oils, mayonnaise.

Once you have a good idea of the basic ingredients for each meal, add as much flavour as you want with garlic, onions, spices, and healthy sauces and condiments.

Step 4: Plan the order of your meals

So the idea of this lifestyle hack is to minimize the time you spend cooking and have a whole load of pre-cooked meals ready for your week ahead and not waste too much time preparing them.  Obviously if you have more time available think about prepping for a couple of days ahead and spend more time cooking.

Another consideration is how long will the food last.  As a general rule of thumb, food stored in the fridge should be eaten up within three to four days of preparation and frozen food will keep for three months in a standard home freezer.

So, to start off with, make it basic!   Try and batch cook proteins and use them throughout the week, or batch cook pasta and potatoes and keep them in the fridge for the week.

Building a meal plan

Step 5: Buy your food.

Now that you know what you want to prep and when, add it all up and go and buy all the ingredients you need.  We suggest going on-line and ordering your food  – that way you can get exactly what you want and get it delivered the day before or the day you plan to do all the cooking.

Step 6. Cook your meals!

So here is the fun part.  Get some good music on, put a Netflix series on in the background, (maybe have a glass of wine if that is part of your food plan!), and get cooking!  Put it in containers and store it in the fridge or freezer for your week ahead.

Step 7. Iterate and improve

It is unlikely you are going to nail this on day one!  Don’t worry about it – it will take a while to perfect your meal planning.  But keep notes on what works and what doesn’t; what was easy to cook; what was tasty; what you can throw in the freezer if something comes up.

Learn more about the EatWell ToolKit App at:

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