With the temperature set to plummet this weekend around Australia, many will turn to quick and easy food options instead of cooking up fresh produce from the supermarket.
But one Sydney-based teacher is out to prove that cooking and meal prepping needn’t take hours and cost the earth.
Katie Lolas, 32, regularly whips up a series of meals for the week in under an hour – spending less than $100 at the supermarket each time.
Katie has amassed more than 150,000 followers on Instagram, where she shares her handy budget tips and tricks.
Teacher Katie Lolas (pictured), 32, regularly whips up a series of meals for the week in under an hour – spending less than $100 at the supermarket each time
Katie recently whipped up breakfast, lunch and snacks for the week in 40 minutes, which included making her own loaded vegetable frittata (pictured)
What are Katie Lola’s budget meal prepping secrets and tricks?
* Have a plan and decide what to make before you cook.
* Choose recipes that don’t require too many ingredients or cooking techniques.
* Avoid all recipes that have more than 20 steps and require six ingredients you’ve never heard of.
* Start slow and only prep the meals you struggle with most. There is no need to prep every single meal for the week ahead of time.
* Fill up your pantry with staples and homebrand products.
* Keep an eye on supermarket specials and catalogue deals and theme your meal preps around these.
* Bulk out meals with extra vegetables and rice.
* Prep snacks to stop you having to buy things on the go.
* If you don’t fancy cooking, whip up a no-cook meal prep.
So what should you be doing in order to whip up a meal prep in less than an hour on a budget?
First up, Katie said you need to have a plan.
She recently decided to make her morning and lunchtime meals for the week, settling on chocolate strawberry overnight oats for breakfast, edamame beans as a morning snack, vegetable frittata for lunch and fruit as an afternoon snack.
‘Total prep took me 40 minutes and that includes cleaning my kitchen,’ Katie posted, alongside a snap of her ready-to-eat breakfast and lunches.
‘If you’re new to meal prepping, remember to start slow,’ the teacher explained.
‘Decide what to make and stick to ideas that don’t require too many ingredients or cooking techniques.
‘Avoid all recipes that take 25 steps or six ingredients you’ve never heard of.
‘You don’t need to prep every single meal you’re going to eat all week.
‘Just choose the meals you struggle with the most.’
‘If you’re new to meal prepping, remember to start slow,’ the teacher (pictured) explained – she recommends you pick recipes with less than 20 steps and limited ingredients
‘You don’t need to prep every single meal you’re going to eat all week. Just choose the meals you struggle with the most,’ Katie (pictured) said
Katie said the best way to prep yourself for any meal prepping session is to fill up your pantry with staples and homebrand products.
‘I purchase the majority of my staples like brown rice, quinoa, black beans and chickpeas from Aldi or opt for a Homebrand Woolies or Coles version,’ she said.
”The quality, taste and nutritional value is always on par with the more expensive brands, so why not grab the less expensive option? Keeping your pantry stocked at all times is great too because you can create quick and easy meals using ingredients that you already have.’
Katie said things like hummus, casseroles and soups are easy to make out of long-life ingredients – and it also saves you a lot of money.
Katie (pictured) said the best way to prep yourself for a meal prepping session is to fill up your pantry with staples and homebrand products – that way you always have something on hand
The 32-year-old also recommends you plan your prepping around potential sales and offers in the supermarket – no cook preps (pictured) are also good if you don’t have much time
What are Katie’s top 10 meal prep staples?
1. Mixed Nuts
2. Chia Seeds
3. Frozen Fruit
4. Whole-Wheat Pasta
5. Rolled Oats
6. Rice Malt Syrup
8. Canned Beans
– chick peas
– black beans
9. Extra Virgin Oil
10. Canned Tuna
The 32-year-old also recommends you plan your prepping around potential sales and offers in the supermarket.
For instance, if there is chicken on a deal, you might make chicken soup or chicken enchiladas.
Additionally, pick the fruit and veg that are in season and therefore on deal to keep costs down.
‘Make meals stretch by adding extra veggies and rice,’ Katie said.
This is a cost-effective way to eat healthily on a budget.
She also recommends you prep snacks where you can – to avoid having to buy a protein ball or chocolate bar on the run.
Some of Katie’s favourite items to prep for the week are frittatas, chicken served with brown rice and vegetables and meals like beef and vegetable shepherd’s pie.
She has also been known to try co-cook meal preps, whereby she simply cuts up some vegetables and brings them in with wraps and cold meats, so she can assemble fajitas at school.
Some of Katie’s favourite items to prep for the week are frittatas (pictured), chicken served with brown rice and vegetables and meals like beef and vegetable shepherd’s pie
Katie turned to meal prepping (pictured) as a way to manage her health and digestive intake – and through doing so, has toned up hugely
Since she started sharing her meal prepping, Katie has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers online, who aim to replicate her colourful meal preps for themselves.
She turned to meal prepping as a way to manage her health and digestive intake – and through doing so, has toned up hugely.
‘I cook up my weekly batch of fresh food on a Sunday morning, to ensure I have everything ready for work on Monday,’ Katie previously told FEMAIL.
‘It takes between 1.5 to two hours depending on what I make. I always have my groceries ready though, so I can start cooking on Sunday morning.
‘I prepare five breakfasts and between four and five lunches each week. To change things up, I usually have morning tea at work on Friday and I grab something different from the shops for lunch.
‘I still like to make healthy choices even on my days off prepping. Sometimes I’ll have brown rice sushi for lunch or a brown bread egg and salad sandwich.
‘It really just depends on what I feel like on that particular day.’
How can you make Katie Lola’s 30-minute loaded vegetable frittata?
Katie shared the recipe for her 30-minute loaded vegetable frittata (pictured)
Ready in: 30 minutes
4 cups of roughly diced pumpkin (I used Japanese Pumpkin)
1 cup red capsicum diced
1 cup mushrooms diced
1 cup broccolini florets diced
NOTE: adapt pumpkin, capsicum, mushroom and broccolini measurements to ensure you can fill 1/2 of whatever sized tray you are using before adding the other ingredients
200g Danish feta cheese, crumbled
10 eggs, lightly beaten
1 bunch of green shallots, thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Step 1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease tray with olive oil or line base with baking paper.
Step 2. Place pumpkin in large microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook on high stirring for 5 minutes or until just tender.
Step 3.Combine pumpkin, crumbled feta, green shallots, broccolini, capsicum and egg. Stir to combine. Add salt to taste and transfer egg mixture to prepared tray.
Step 4. Bake in oven for approx. 25 minutes or until firm.
Step 5. Sit for 5 minutes before serving and that’s it!
By prepping breakfasts, lunches and snacks (all pictured), Katie is spending a third of the money she would have spent if she was buying them each day
‘It has helped me manage my IBS, which has made a world of difference in my life,’ Katie (pictured with her dinners over one week) said
By prepping breakfasts, lunches and snacks, Katie is spending a third of the money she would have spent if she was buying them each day and she has been able to manage various health issues.
‘It has helped me manage my IBS, which has made a world of difference in my life.
‘My stomach cramps and bloating have markedly improved because I’m eating homemade food that is high in fibre and nutrition,’ she said.
‘I decided it was time to stop stressing about what to eat and wasting time each day looking for something and just have everything organised and ready.
‘It makes me feel organised and ready to succeed, which is most certainly a positive.’
To read more from Katie Lolas, you can head to her blog here .
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