I'm Sammy, the blogger behind Sammy's Kitchen. I've been blogging about food and fitness for a few years now, using meal prep to help out during recovery and get me into the best shape I can!
I started my blog in my second year at uni. I've always loved creating new recipes, trying new things and making my meals look nice. I’d send Snapchat’s of my meals to friends and family all the time, and they encouraged me to set up an Instagram. Mainly so they didn’t have to be bombarded with my photos, I suspect! I started to share what I was cooking, particularly what you can do on a student budget that tastes good but also makes you feel good.
I started playing rugby when I went to uni and instantly fell in love with it. From training off the pitch to deciding what I put in my mouth, I wanted to do everything I could to make myself a better player. I started meal prepping in my second year - the year I first stepped foot in the library! It allowed me to eat while on campus without having to spend my precious pounds, which inevitably would always go on a heavily processed but delicious meal from the bagel shop or a Starbucks!
I think I’m pretty lucky that I genuinely love vegetables (I may or may not have eaten a whole broccoli as a drunken snack after a sports night out). That, coupled with my love for cooking and passion for rugby, meant I wasn’t massively overcome by the notorious student life of pasta and alcohol.
I guess the most difficult part was wanting to eat well while on a tight student budget, but I prioritised my spending on food rather than going out multiple times a week (after freshers week anyway!) or spending it on clothes. I bulk-cooked most of my food to make it more cost effective and would make 4 or 5 portions at a time.
I think balance is the key to reaching your goals. You want to embrace uni life because you’re likely to only be there once! But that doesn’t mean you have to revert to pasta all day every day. Bulk buying food and cooking is a great way to save money and ensure you have a stack of balanced meals ready to go.
If you’ve got a full day of lectures, planning ahead is key. Meal prep the day before so you’ve got a decent amount of food with you. This’ll mean you don’t need to spend money on food while you’re out and about. Packing a treat to take with you always provided me with motivation to get my work done too! Make sure you do allow yourself these things and don’t sweat it if you happen to stumble into the bagel shop on campus when you’re in need of some kind of hangover cure. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
Don’t forget about the macronutrients too! One of my flatmates in my first year of uni lived off potato waffles, chips and maybe the odd baked bean. He honestly didn’t eat any vegetables at all, and was constantly ill because of it. Macros will always be important when it comes to fitness and performance, but macronutrients are not to be forgotten, particularly if you want to stay clear of the dreaded freshers flu.
I stepped my meal prep game up a notch when I graduated and joined my local rugby team at home. As a new graduate with a mound of debt who was slightly stuck in my student ways, I knew I didn’t want to be spending heaps of money on lunch everyday, particularly as I was saving up to go travelling. So I combined my love for cooking and nutrition and started prepping my lunches everyday.
Since graduating I certainly consume less alcohol as well but still do a lot bulk cooking. Working a 9-5:30 job and fitting in all my injury rehab and other activities often leaves me short of time, so being able to get a meal out the freezer and on the table in a matter of minutes is ideal.
I started setting firm goals after I returned home from travelling and found out I’d need surgery to repair two ruptured ligaments in my ankle. Having missed out on a lot of rugby while away, I wanted to get back playing as soon as could after the op, but also make the most of my time away from the sport to become a better player than I was before the injury. This has been my ultimate goal for the last 15 months and continues to drive my passion for food and fitness.
I’ve been super unlucky with injuries over the last year. Straight after my ankle surgery I couldn’t do any exercise, so nutrition was the only element I could use to keep pushing towards my goal. Being on crutches I couldn’t just pop out to pick up some lunch, so my meal prepping ensured I was well fed and with whatever I could to aid my recovery, and make it as easy as I could to return to full fitness once I could get moving.
I’m due to have a shoulder op in summer, so I plan on bulk cooking a load of meals and freezing them in my Igluu containers for when I am one handed and can’t cook!
If you're looking to start your meal prep journey, just plan ahead and crack on! You don’t need to wait until the beginning of a new week to get started - simply cook double your dinner and you’ve got another meal ready to go.
- Find what works for you - it may be prepping one or two days worth of meals or it could be spending a fair bit of a time on a Sunday having a cook in that’ll set yourself up with ten meals for the whole week.
- Plan your meals for the week and base your shopping list on these, that way you’ll only get what you actually need so save yourself some money. You’ll also be less likely to wonder around the aisles picking up a heap of calorie dense foods while in search of some meal prep inspo.
- Be prepared for when you forget. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than prepping a delicious meal only to forget it and leave it at home. Having some ‘emergency food’ in my drawer at work has saved me from a feeling ravenous and lacking energy for those few times I forget my food. I have porridge sachets and an impressive variety of rice cakes that are there to sort me out when I forget my breakfast or need a snack. If I forget my lunch, I normally plan what I’m going to buy from the supermarket before I go in. This means I can go in and get what I came for, rather than gallivanting around the aisles picking up anything and everything I see because I’m starving by that point.
My no. 1 easy meal prep tip is simply to cook an extra portion of your dinner! It takes you no extra time than cooking your ordinary dinner, but you’ve now sorted yourself out for lunch the next day.
I honestly couldn’t choose a favourite meal prep recipe - there’s so much choice and variation and I simply love it all! But my absolute staple is overnight oats/porridge - I’ve taken them to work everyday for over a year! Lunch wise, my go-to is probably a load of roasted/air fryer veg with some kind of protein source, or my pea, mint and butter bean soup.
Finding good containers to store your meal prep is going to make your life so much easier as you get into prepping. Using good containers also helps you organise your fridge/freezer, generally make you feel like you’ve got your sh*t together and make you love meal prep!
Igluu Meal Prep Containers have made my life a helluva load easier. While I love meal prep, any way that it can be made simpler gets bonus points from me. Last year I found out that I’m intolerant to gluten and lactose, so I’ve found it even more vital to meal prep as my options when I’m out and about are often limited. The fact that they’re stackable makes it so easy to store and transport multiple meals to set me up for the day, and being able to microwave straight from the container saves me washing up. The three different containers suit all my needs, whether it’s a taco bowl in the one compartment or the three compartment helping me portion control, I genuinely love them and have got so many friends on the Igluu hype who love them equally as much!
Along my journey and as I look to the future, I've found the whole Instagram and blog community supper supportive and often pretty inspiring. I love seeing what other people cook up and it absolutely elates me to see someone give one of my recipes a go. I always find that really motivating. Even just scrolling through my Instagram keeps me motivated - it’s a bit deep and cringe but each picture represents a moment in my life, and I love looking back and remembering what I was up to at that time.
Although I have a fair way to go before I can play rugby again, I love looking back and seeing how far I’ve come. It definitely makes my ultimate goal of returning to rugby as the best player I can be seem that much more achievable.