The steps I use
I can only speak for myself and my experience, but if you’ve been reading along here on the blog, you know I love me some meal prep. Just like anything else, there are a hundred different ways to do it and what works for me may or may not work for you. I encourage you to tweak things until you find the method that suits you best. Personally, I will gladly trade meal variety for efficiency, because eating the same thing every day doesn’t bother me when the food tastes so freaking good. I also value my time and am happy to designate one day of the week to cook everything all at once if it saves me having to cook every night of the week. After work. When I’m already tired…
Since I’ve gotten so many questions about my meal prepping technique, I figured I’d write out my exact strategy in hopes you find some or all of it useful. Be sure to let me know in the comments what you think!
Sundays are for meal prep
I don’t have an overly hectic life, and this is by design. As such, Sundays are a typically mellow day that can be set aside solely for being in the kitchen and not having to rush through it to get to some other task afterward. My main goal for Sunday is to get the food prepped, cooked and portioned out for the week for myself and my husband, so I know going into the weekend that Sundays are already spoken for. It’s gone back and forth from Saturday to Sunday many times over the years, but Sunday is currently where I’ve landed for the last few months. It may change again, because – life. The main idea here is to pick a day, stick to it, and plan accordingly.
Pinterest has all the answers
If you’re not on Pinterest yet, get thee hence and signeth up. It is the only site I’ve ever needed to use for meal prepping ideas and recipes, so considering that’s several years’ worth of weekly meal prep sessions, I’d say Pinterest has stood up to the challenge for. sure.
What types of food I prep
The shorter answer to this may be: what foods have I NOT prepped? Over the years I’ve eaten from a wide variety of meal plans, including vegetarian and vegan, and just about any type of recipe holds up quite well with meal prep. My husband and I eat pretty differently as well, but with meal prep, I can easily have my veggie soup pot bubbling on the stove while the slow cooker cooks up some juicy chicken or beef for him. To me, that beats cooking two separate meals each night by a landslide!
Foods that typically fare the best for prepping are cooked meat, cooked grains, cooked beans/legumes, and steamed or roasted veggies. I have prepped salads before and kept the greens sealed in a separate container from the toppings and dressing until it was time to eat. It works but can be a little annoying if you’ve prepped the salad for your work lunch, so on your busy work mornings you have to gather all the little components separately in your lunchbox. So, salads CAN be prepped if you don’t mind spending the extra time.
How the food gets prepared
Lately, I’ve been all about some one-pot and one-pan meals, and that’s a great meal prep option because the whole point of preparing for the week ahead is to save time. When I don’t have multiple pots and pans full of multiple meal components, I don’t have to try to coordinate cooking times so everything gets done at relatively the same pace (raise your hand if ever you’ve gotten most of the meal done and realized you forgot to start the brown rice, which takes 45 minutes to cook… or is that just me?) and I don’t have to wash a thousand dishes when it’s all said and done. But soon I’m sure my interest will wane and I’ll want to switch things up for variety’s sake. Personally, buddha bowls are one of my favorite meals because you can layer them with almost anything you want. I have a very handy infographic pinned here in case you’d like to see how easy they are to customize!
How the food gets portioned
I have some cheap little plastic containers that (I think) are Ziploc brand that I’ve used for years. They were in the picture posted in last week’s blog and they work just fine for what I need. I don’t mind if my food touches, so I’ll layer up some jasmine rice and a veggie curry with ease, or this week I did a one-pan meal again, so of course, I don’t care if foods that were cooked together are touching. I never invested in those little compartmentalized meal prep containers, although I’m sure they work great for folks that need separation or portion guides. I don’t count calories and lean toward intuitive eating so I eat until I’m full and typically the Ziploc containers deliver me just that – fullness and satisfaction. Yum!
I hope this was a decent introductory course to meal prepping! Let me know if you have any questions or concerns in the comments and I’ll advise as best I can! Happy eating.