You’ve done the meal planning and finished your grocery shopping, now it’s time to prep and prepare your ingredients for the week ahead.
Meal prepping is the secret weapon that puts your plan into action. It turns ingredients into meals and gets dinner on the table, even when you’re crazy busy.
It’s also the most effective strategy to beat cooking fatigue because it saves you from starting from scratch every single night. Prepping ingredients and preparing recipes in advance makes weeknight cooking faster and more convenient, so you can easily eat well all week long.
To help make your prep days as smooth as pudding, here are a few of my favorite tips:
1// Start by Scheduling Your Prep Day(s)
Give your future self a helping hand by setting aside a chunk of time each week – one that works best with your schedule and priorities (think: Sunday afternoon) – for washing, chopping, prepping and batch cooking.
Then pull out your calendar and pencil in your prep day(s) for the next few weeks. They might vary slightly – depending on your schedule and the recipes you selected for the week – but try to keep them as consistent as possible so you don’t have to think too much about it.
2// Wash, Peel and Prep Your Produce
- Wash and dry your fruits and veggies, especially your leafy greens, so you can grab them by the handful as needed for salads, soups, wraps or smoothies.
- Chop veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, squash and cabbage. Use them for roasting, steaming or sautéing.
- Slice carrots, celery and peppers for easy grab-and-go snacks.
- Look at the recipes you selected for the week, then wash/peel/chop/prep as much as you can in advance.
3// Batch Cook
As you’re slicing and dicing your produce for the week, simultaneously batch cook or prepare key ingredients like:
- Grains. Make a big batch of quinoa, brown rice, millet, amaranth, farro etc. for the week to use as the base for a breakfast, lunch or dinner bowl – or to add to soups, stir-frys, salads, wraps and casseroles.
- Legumes/Beans. Soak and simmer your legumes and/or beans as you cook your grains. Having beans ready to go is a great protein boost to add to salads and soups, to make burgers, dips and spreads or to eat along side tacos or grains.
- Roast, Marinate or Pickle Your Veggies. Use them in tacos, on salads, with quinoa, pasta or on burgers.
- Overnight Oats. Prepare a batch of overnight oats and pre-portion them into individual mason jars for a quick and easy breakfast.
4// Make Dressings, Sauces, Dips and Beverages
- Make a big jar of homemade vinaigrette that you can use on your salads or grain bowls, and that doubles as a marinade. Multitask your vinaigrette even more by drizzling it over raw veggies for an afternoon snack.
BASIC VINAIGRETTE: In an airtight jar combine 3 parts extra virgin olive oil with 1 part wine or champagne vinegar and sea salt and pepper to taste. Cover, shake and store in refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
- Make any other dressings that you’ll need for the week.
- Prepare your dips and condiments like hummus and cashew sour cream.
- Make a fruit jam or paste to use on toast, in chutneys, as a dessert or mixed in to a bowl of warm breakfast grains.
- Prepare a basic red sauce to use on pasta or as a base to soups, stews or chili.
- Make a batch of nut milk.
5// Prepare Entire Meals. Soups, stews, chili, casseroles, pilafs, muffins and granola are all great meals to make in advance and have ready to simply reheat and eat!
6// Don’t reinvent the wheel! Be sure to jot down and save the recipes, meal plans and shopping lists you’ve loved so you can repeat them later, rather than starting from scratch.
Alright, that’ll wrap up the third and final step of the meal planning process. I hope you discovered some helpful meal prep tips and strategies during this three-part blog series.
If you missed part one or two, you can read them here:
Part 1: The Planning
Part 2: The Shopping
As always, I’d love to hear from you!
Do you have any meal prep tips, strategies or a-ha’s that make your life easier and/or help keep you on a healthy track?
Let me know in the comments below.
Happy Prepping! 🙂