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Woman who once ‘lived off frozen food’ reveals how meal prepping turned her life around

A backpacker who once ‘lived off frozen food’ has revealed how meal prepping turned her life around – and the shortcuts for people who are low on time but want to eat healthily on a budget.

When Sally O’Neil first moved to Sydney, she was used to living on a diet of frozen ready-meals, chocolate, crisps, and bowls of cereal for dinner.

However, the now food author and health blogger quickly realised that this wasn’t good for her – and so she took charge of her health and turned to meal prepping as a way to save money and time in the kitchen.

Flash forward a few years, and Sally, 31, has close to 100,000 followers online, while she is the author of a new book The Fit Foodie Meal Prep Plan. 

A backpacker who once ‘lived off frozen food’ has revealed how meal prepping turned her life around (pictured: Sally O’Neil)

When Sally O'Neil first moved to Sydney, she was used to living on a diet of frozen ready-meals, chocolate, crisps, and bowls of cereal for dinner - now she is all about meal prep (pictured)

When Sally O’Neil first moved to Sydney, she was used to living on a diet of frozen ready-meals, chocolate, crisps, and bowls of cereal for dinner – now she is all about meal prep (pictured)

These days, Sally preps, batches, stores and assembles each meal (pictured)

These days, Sally preps, batches, stores and assembles each meal (pictured)

According to Sally, she came to meal prepping when she realised it would actually save her time in the long run. 

‘Even as a food blogger, I can’t honestly say that I cook myself a meal from scratch every night,’ Sally told FEMAIL.

‘I’ve got stuff to do, and that doesn’t involve spending hours at my stove.’

And so, the Sydney-based author decided to try a new method that was different from simply buying and heating up convenience foods – she would prep, batch, store and assemble each meal in bulk.

‘Okay, so my prep might take me a bit of time,’ she said.

‘But we’re talking two hours a week, tops, and short of ordering meal delivery every night, you’re not going to find a faster way to eat home-cooked, healthy food.’

While Sally said she started small - say with a spare 10 minutes in which she made breakfasts for the week - she has now built up her meal prep so that she has meals prepared for the week

While Sally said she started small – say with a spare 10 minutes in which she made breakfasts for the week – she has now built up her meal prep so that she has meals prepared for the week

While Sally said she started small – say with a spare 10 minutes in which she made breakfasts for the week – she has now built up her meal prep so that she has meals prepared for much of the week.

And she always has something bulk prepared in her freezer for if she’s caught unawares.

‘Start small, and multitask,’ Sally said. ‘Work with the time and ingredients you have.’ 

Sally said she estimates she saves ‘at least $75 a week’ by meal prepping. 

‘At best, even if I don’t make all my meals, I save $30 a week by making breakfast and snacks for each day,’ she said. 

‘You can also save time by some foods pre-made, such as pre-spiralised zucchini noodles, pre-boiled eggs, cauliflower rice, pre-cut carrots and celery sticks.’

Sally (pictured) said she estimates she saves 'at least $75 a week' by meal prepping, and even if she doesn't make every meal, she makes sure to prepare breakfast and snacks

Sally (pictured) said she estimates she saves ‘at least $75 a week’ by meal prepping, and even if she doesn’t make every meal, she makes sure to prepare breakfast and snacks

Speaking about her tips for others wanting to build a balanced meal prep-based meal, Sally said the most important thing is to keep things balanced (pictured: some of her top foods)

Speaking about her tips for others wanting to build a balanced meal prep-based meal, Sally said the most important thing is to keep things balanced (pictured: some of her top foods)

'When prepping food for the week, make sure you include a few options from each food group - carbs, fat and protein,' she said (pictured: some of her meal prep)

'When prepping food for the week, make sure you include a few options from each food group - carbs, fat and protein,' she said (pictured: some of her meal prep)

‘When prepping food for the week, make sure you include a few options from each food group – carbs, fat and protein,’ she said (pictured: some of her meal prep)

What are Sally O’Neil’s tips for keeping costs down? 

* Stick with cheaper protein like oats, tofu, eggs and canned fish, rather than more expensive items.

* Buy things in bulk, cook them and store them later in the freezer so you always have a meal on hand.

* Scour the aisles of the supermarket for discounted, in-date goods and be prepared to cook and freeze them on the day. 

Speaking about her tips for others wanting to build a balanced meal prep-based meal, Sally said the most important thing is to keep things balanced.

‘When prepping food for the week, make sure you include a few options from each food group – carbs, fat and protein,’ she said.

‘You should also use different seasonings and healthy dressings to keep things interesting.’

With regards to saving time and money, Sally also said it’s easy – if you look for low-cost items.

‘Stick with cheaper protein like oats, tofu, eggs and canned fish, rather than expensive items like organic chicken or fresh fish,’ she said.

‘You can also keep your eyes peeled for 100 per cent lean turkey, as this is usually cheaper than chicken.’

Elsewhere, Sally said she always buys things in bulk when she can, even if this means she has to store something for later in the freezer. 

‘You can also scour the aisles for discounted in-date foods, and be prepared to prep them the day you buy them or freeze,’ she said. 

'You can also scour the aisles for discounted in-date foods, and be prepared to prep them the day you buy them or freeze,' Sally (pictured) said

‘You can also scour the aisles for discounted in-date foods, and be prepared to prep them the day you buy them or freeze,’ Sally (pictured) said

'The things I always have in my kitchen are Greek yoghurt, chicken, lemon, herbs and spices, eggs and some form of greens,' Sally said (pictured: some of her meal prep)

‘The things I always have in my kitchen are Greek yoghurt, chicken, lemon, herbs and spices, eggs and some form of greens,’ Sally said (pictured: some of her meal prep)

Sally's new book, The Fit Foodie Meal Prep Plan, aims to simplify meal prepping for people who are scared of it (pictured)

Sally’s new book, The Fit Foodie Meal Prep Plan, aims to simplify meal prepping for people who are scared of it (pictured)

When it comes to her pantry staples, Sally said there are many she relies on week by week but five more than any others.

‘The things I always have in my kitchen are Greek yoghurt, chicken, lemon, herbs and spices, eggs and some form of greens,’ Sally said.   

‘Multi-tasking ingredients like eggs (think poached egg salad, tray-frittata, healthy pumpkin pie) are always at the top of my list, while I now make sure I always have a plan before I hit the supermarket.’

Sally’s new book, The Fit Foodie Meal Prep Plan, aims to simplify meal prepping for people who are scared of it.

It is available from all good bookstores and online from September 3.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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