Meet the meal-prep king and queen who have lost a combined 15 stone by cooking the entire weeks’ food in one go – for just 60p a dish.
John Clark, 39, has lost more than 8st and his partner Charlotte Deniz, 34, shed 6st 4lb by being ultra organised cooks.
The pair spend about £135 a month on food and use every penny to create colourful boxed up meals.
He spends six hours every Sunday batch cooking a weeks’ worth of mouth-watering meals and makes sure every breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack contains 400 calories.
Their diet even includes ‘fakeaway’ style foods like juicy burgers, spicy curries, big steaks and even chocolate donuts.
The creative couple change their menu every week, and signature dishes include beef meatballs, veggie kebabs and chicken pizza.
They also like sticky Italian sausage and chickpea casserole, buffalo chicken stuffed sweet potato skins with cheese and double chocolate protein donuts.
Proud of their colourful cooking, the couple share their meal preps online, where they have thousands of followers.
HGV driver John, of Bolton, who now weighs 13st 5lb, said: “We make absolutely everything from scratch and we eat whatever we want.
“It’s not a diet. I love what I eat and enjoy every mouthful.
“It can be hard work. I do it on a Sunday and spend hours doing it. But I don’t cook in the week at all. It’s all done in one go.
“It’s all about making sure your diet is balanced and sustainable. I cook really tasty food, even things that people usually think are unhealthy.
“It’s a diet plan that allows you to eat whatever you want. What I cook are really nice meals. I’d say it’s the best diet in the world.”
Charlotte, who now weighs 9st 10lb, added: “The way we eat is amazing. It’s a away of life that I couldn’t live without now.
“I used to eat food for convenience without realising how bad it was for me. I started skipping meals as I thought that was the only way to lose weight.
“I love our diet. We eat naughty foods too but it’s all about moderation and balance.”
John was the first to start meal prepping, and used it as a way to lose weight before he met Charlotte.
He weighed 21st 6lb thanks to a diet of ‘butty van’ burgers, sausage sandwiches and pub lunches he ate due to his lorry driving job 16 years ago.
He would gorge on between 4,000 and 5,000 calories a day and was known to his mates as ‘Fat John’.
John, then aged 23, booked an appointment with his GP when he started to struggle to buy clothes, and was told he was obese.
“I sat in my car outside desperate, alone and cried,” he said.
“I was given some leaflets on what I should and shouldn’t eat but I wasn’t offered much help at all. I didn’t know where to start. I found it really difficult.”
He started working out up to five times a week and lost lots of weight – but hated the early daily workouts, so took up extreme meal prepping in 2004 after wanting to make a change.
The pounds “just dropped off” and his weight plummeted to 12st 10lb in 2008, when he was in his best shape, after four years of preparing all his meals every Sunday.
He did this alone and in relative secret for years until he met his partner, Charlotte, in 2017.
She weighed around 16st and while John loved her the way she was, she suffered from low confidence and self-esteem and “hated” the way she looked.
In her twenties, Charlotte says she had an “awful diet” and didn’t exercise causing her to pile on the pounds.
She recalls how she used to view food as her enemy and restrict herself to only one meal a day in desperation to lose weight.
A regular day for her would see her gorge on junk food – like takeaways, chips and burgers or pizzas – in one binge-eating sitting each day.
But after meeting John she started to embrace his diet and in just a year dropped to 9st 10lb, going from a size 18 to an eight.
Charlotte, who only signed up to the gym after reaching her target weight, said: “I wasn’t eating right at all. It was unhealthy.
“John had gone through the same and related to what I was going through. I was determined to lose weight but I just didn’t know how.
“He was my coach. He still inspires me to this day.”
For years John prepped his own meals at home every Sunday, cooking more regular meals, but began experimenting with food to make dieting fun for Charlotte.
When they met she had an unhealthy relationship with food and John made a commitment to help her learn to love eating again.
The couple are now the masters of how to eat well on a shoestring budget.
They bulk-buy all of their food for the next week on a Friday.
They spend around £80 on 5kg of chicken, burgers, sausages, mince and fish online, £25 on fruit and veg at their local market and get everything else from Aldi and Tesco.
John then slogs away in the kitchen on a Sunday, cooking up four meals a day for the next seven days, for himself and accounts manager, Charlotte.
They put it all in 56 individual cartons, and share them on Instagram under the name @themealprepking
“I make a huge variety,” said dad-of-two, John.
“I’ve even done vegetarian and gluten free meals at the requests of followers.
“We have a very varied diet and the food we eat is amazing. Some people literally don’t believe it when they see.
“Unlike some diets these meals aren’t grey and boring. It’s all fun food and is all about moderation and variety.
“It is sustainable and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
“I don’t like to think of myself as having a diet plan. I eat what I want.
“Now I just want to help other people too. I want to inspire people to stay away from boring diets.”
TYPICAL DIET FOR BOTH BEFORE AND NOW
John before –
Breakfast – breakfast roll
Lunch – a pub lunch of steak pie and chips
Dinner – Chinese or Indian or takeaway for dinner
Snacks – Sausage rolls, crisps and sandwiches and chips.
Charlotte before –
Breakfast – Skip
Lunch – Skip
Dinner – Varied between Indian and Chinese takeaways, burgers, pizzas, chips and pies.
Snacks – Crisps, chocolate, fizzy drinks, cakes.
Both now –
Breakfast – bacon, lean cheese, pepper, spinach, spring onion and egg.
Lunch – chicken kebabs marinated in Greek seasoning with chipotle sauce and giant cous cous.
Dinner – chicken burgers with cauliflower and garlic rice.
Snacks – homemade vanilla and chocolate chip cookies.