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A year ago I took on a project that had me waking up early and commuting back-and-forth to Philly for work each day. On most days, I didn’t mind the drive; it was a nice change in routine that gave me plenty of time to catch up on a few podcasts as well as episodes of Howard Stern.
Re-establishing good habits, like taking time on the weekends to plan meals and outfits for the upcoming week, made my life a lot easier. One of my biggest challenges — the scramble to figure out what to put together for dinner at the end of the day, or saying screw it and stopping to eat at a restaurant on the way home — was eliminated, thanks to advance meal prep and big-batch cooking on the weekends.
There are a lot of meal prep resources and recipes available out there, but the three best tips that I can offer –those that were tried, tested, and successful for me — are these.
- Stick to familiar and easy-to-make meals. Soups, sauces, and casseroles that can be thawed, heated, and eaten as-is or quickly added to something, like pasta or rice, are my favorites. In the summer, I like making big batches of pesto with basil from my garden or the farmers market. I top it with a little bit of olive oil (to prevent browning, a result of oxidation), store it in a plastic container, mark with the date and contents, and freeze. I do the same thing with various soups and chilis, which I make weekly in the winter.
- Cook in quantities that make sense for you. For me, it’s quantities that can fed 2-4 people. Depending on what I’m making, this allows me to either feed the family or feed Steve and me with leftovers to freeze for a meal in a few weeks or store in the fridge to take for lunch during the following week. Try not to make too much because, believe me, you’ll get sick of this whole process and tired of eating whatever you made after the second day.
- Don’t feel compelled to conquer it all. If you can plan and cook every single meal, then more power to you. I typically focus on dinners since they tend to be the most time-consuming, rather than planning for every single meal of the day. I’d rather make one, quality meal that is a good dinner that keeps well for lunch the next day (or day after) and pack some snacks to eat at work then worry about doing too much and despising the process after a few weeks.
These three tips will get you started on your way of making the process of meal prepping enjoyable and sustainable over time.
Have any tips to share? Post them in a comment below.