My Meal Prep in Singapore Update – Learning to Eat Less
2 years ago, I wrote this post about how I meal prep my 7 days meal on my Saturday or Sunday, so that my dad and myself don’t have to cook my lunch during the weekdays.
Readers tell me it has helped a lot.
Particularly there is not a lot of articles that showed the nuances of when you do some of these stuff, where do you source the ingredients, how you store them and how do you heat it up.
Usually, some of these post of mine is borne out of my frustrations.
It is one of those frustration that lead me to create my stock portfolio tracker that you can use for free.
Its been sometime, so I thought I would give a short update.
Evolving the Lunch
Recall in the article 2 years ago, I was eating a lunch like this, 7 days a week.
That is cauliflower rice, with some chickens that is steamed. The rice is cooked on Sunday, and then on the weekdays, I just need to fry it a little and its good to go.
I am the sort that I can eat the same thing over and over again, as long as its nice.
If you prepare it yourself, you can polish your skills, get better, cook nicer.
Soon, every meal will taste just as good.
And I do enjoy my meals a lot because, as the last article, there are certain hacks you can put in that are natural that makes your food very appetizing (things like a little more salt, carrots taste sweet, chicken stock from the chicken you steam when pour into your cauliflower rice gives the rice more flavor).
So given the choice, I can continue to eat this for a long while.
The problem I faced is that: I was eating too much.
I think what developed during the last 2 years before my mom passed away was a tendency that when work and life pressure gets too much, I take it out on food.
It is the first time I realize what it felt like for folks to have a compulsive shopping, eating disorder.
And the worst part is.. my stomach seems like its elastic. I can not eat much and I am pretty OK. If I need to I can eat 3 plates of rice and still feel its OK.
So when my mom passed away, some what, these episode where I felt like going crazy become much much better.
I started thinking to myself: It cannot be the case that breakfast I eat so much, lunch I will eat until full, and dinner I also feel full.
It is no wonder hunger wasn’t an issue, since if you eat so much, how can you ever have the opportunity to feel hungry.
It doesn’t help that some of the materials, that I read, it says that if most of the stuff you eat are natural and nutritious, you do not have to worry about eating too much.
That seem to give me some license to eat so much, since most of what I ate are unprocessed vegetables and meat.
If I eat so much, my body would have to spend a lot of energy processing it. This takes energy away from the body to do other stuff. This will affect longevity.
So, I decide to tune down the lunch.
So instead of this meal prep, I replaced it with:
- Yam and Sweet Potato Steamed
- Chicken Steamed
This is easy to prepare. You just have to clean it, then put it in the rice cooker and switch on the rice cooker with some water. After it comes to a boil, just let it cook for 20 mins. Then put in the chicken (because chicken takes only 5-6 mins for steaming to cook it). and 25 mins later its done.
The best thing is that it is very autopilot and very timer based.
Yam and Sweet Potato are starchy, sweet so if you have a weight problem, this is probably not the way to go.
To evolve further, I decide to make it even more simple for the both of us. Since we do steam chicken and cook vegetables for breakfast, I thought why not just cook more during breakfast, then store it in my trusty Tiger food warmer, and bring to work?
The advantage I have versus other people is…. I don’t get tired of the same food:
- During JC, my junior college Yishun’s food was atrocious. There is a noodle store, a chicken rice store, and a mixed food store. The mixed food store food is damn expensive, and I don’t think noodles fill me up (back then). So I ate chicken rice for my 2 years in JC
- A vegetarian sin seh told me to turn to Buddhism, eat vegetarian, and gave me a millet porridge recipe. Basically, you buy millet from NTUC, add sweet potato, pumpkin and then when cooked you add roasted almond flakes on top. Its damn nice. When things are nice I can eat it straight for 3 years. Its so nice that at night, I look forward to sleeping because I know in the morning I can eat it.
Going without Food for Lunch
These pictures above are some of the one dish dinner my dad prepared.
One dish meals are simple, because you just need to cook one time, instead of multiple times.
It cuts out a lot of the complexity.
The downside is not everyone are adjusted to eating bitter gourd and what gourd it is in the third picture (dunno what it is but sure taste good).
Usually, dad will eat one quarter. I will eat 3 quarter.
This is the case for breakfast as well.
This give a lot of evidence how much I ate per day. It is one of the reason why I eventually decide not to eat lunch.
I slowly eased into it by not eating lunch during weekends. Then we try to do it during weekdays.
It is not that I hold this rule not to eat very strictly.
On occasion where I would like to try something, I would try it. On special occasion, such as farewell lunch, I would eat as well.
What I try to do is: For 90% of the time, don’t eat too much. For the 10% of the time, live life a little. The strict discipline 90% of the time drives the result.
By being very disciplined, it makes you look forward and enjoy those “special days” where you eat lunch.
I basically evolved to 12 hour Fasting Sessions
The interval between my meal time is about 12 hours. Usually I finish breakfast at 8 am, and dinner is 7.30 pm.
If you go without food for more than 8-12 hours that is consider a fast. Some people are stricter, and only consider not eating and drinking to be fasting.
There are more scientific evidence about the benefits of fasting.
And there are many schemes of fasting such as eating within a 6-8 hour window with the amount of food required for a whole day (you squeeze 3 meals food in that 6-8 hour window) and not eating for the other times.
Then there are folks that eat one meal a day (short form OMAD).
The benefit is that you lose weight, better insulin sensitivity, and greater longevity.
Health wise, I do not see any change in skin.
I do however felt better after the traditional lunch time. Usually, if I eat, its like you become very lethargic after lunch. That aspect is much better now.
You feel lighter.
Strength wise, I think its OK. Last check I can still do 24 pull ups when required. Its better than when I was eating vegetarian the last time, when I struggle to do 8 pull ups. I have no idea why I would lost so much strength.
What has been difficult?
I think when I do all these stuff, I am challenging against the norms.
For some, if you bring packed lunch to your office to eat, its already different. In our place its not so much because, in neighboring food court, you can see many Indians, and some Chinese packing their lunch and eating with their colleagues.
What has been challenging have been fielding questions why you are doing things this way.
If you explained well, maintain a good coherent communication, things should be OK.
Most often, the greatest challenge, is working past your own conflicts, beliefs.
I have to admit, the first few times going for lunch and not eating is damn awkward.
I find that what you need to do is try.
If you don’t try, it means you never gave it any chance to succeed.
Then after a while, everyone gets adjusted to you not eating, you will also get adjusted to not eating.
I realize its not so strange any more.
The other difficulty have been communicating with parents.
Parents, most of the time love you, so when you say you want to try weird things with your body, they think you are committing suicide.
So I had a hard time explaining there are benefits to eating less. And that in the worse case scenario, we just add back the food we took out!
You try a little, they see things are OK, or turned better they will relent.
For example, it is damn difficult to get round the idea that you can skip breakfast. My mom and dad refused to believe in that, so I have no choice I can only skip lunch and not breakfast.
I also had it easier because we are both adults. It can be pretty challenging if my Dad’s opinion of food is 360 degrees different from mine. I would say about 180 degrees but still we have a lot of similar philosophy such as eating mainly vegetables. Its just that I cannot talked him out of eating bread, Chee Cheong Fan, Bee Tai Mak.
If you are the head of your household, it would be easier as well.
Meal Prep: If you wish to cook fresh vegetables but want to save on preparation time
Here is a bonus tip.
Some of you might not wish to store cook food frozen or in the fridge but would wish to save some time.
One way is to prepare the vegetables, store them in the fridge and cook them on the day itself.
The biggest peeve about cooking is the preparation work that is required. If you have 7 days per week and you cook 3 meals, then you need to prepare 21 times per week.
Well, what we did is:
- make our break fast simpler by not eating mixed vegetables on Saturday and Sunday morning
- preparing the vegetables to be cook every morning on Sunday
For #2, what we can do is cut the vegetables to a certain length, wash them, and then dry them.
If you cut them too much, and wash them with water, the vegetables will lose a lot of the water soluble nutrients.
In the 2 picture above, we had out 5 basket and in one session we separate an assortment of vegetables into 5 equal portions.
We then wash them.
Then we let the vegetables dry for an entire morning. Once they are dried, we pack them in plastic container each and store it in the fridge level.
On the actual morning, we take out, we do not need to wash again, we can just cut them smaller and are ready to cook.
Your complexity might be lower if you are not as adamant to eat so many different vegetables.