With the start of every new week comes a beloved sort of foodie tradition—a methodical routine of cooking, prepping and packing meals for the week ahead.
Some call it Meal Prep Sunday and swear by the system’s efficient-izing effect on their lives. Others stumbled into the routine by accident, with Sunday stews and weekend leftovers that slowly made their way to thermoses and containers and lunchboxes come Monday morning.
Either way, most “meal preppers” find that a lot of love goes into this weekly ritual. It’s something you can do with family, with the whole crew pitching in to chop salad mix-ins or pack ingredients away. It’s also something that, perhaps paradoxically, helps you chill out! You can turn on a movie or sway to some music as you prep, enjoying that laidback Sunday feeling while relishing in the fact that you’ll be that much less stressed on those busy weekday mornings ahead—just pick a pre-made, handmade meal and go…
Maybe you need a new go-to meal option for those days you eat at your desk. Or maybe you’re a parent who, with school back in session, could use some help crafting simple (yet satisfying) lunches for the kiddos.
Either way, it’s a routine worth trying out—and today, we’re going to show you how! Just read on.
Every successful meal prep starts with some smart shopping. Here are some helpful reminders…
- Because you’ll be preparing meals to eat up to five days from now, opt for the freshest dates possible so your ingredients stay better, longer.
- Make things easy on yourself! You can do this by buying ingredients that are halfway “ready.” If you’re thinking of preparing chicken skewers, for example, pre-cut chicken can expedite the process.
- If your chief aim with meal prepping is to eat healthy, carefully portion out foods, keep a list nearby so you can keep track of nutrients, calories and other considerations.
- Remember to pick up containers for your meals, if you haven’t already! The best options will 1) fit in your lunchbox and 2) offer room for different meal layouts—a corner for fruit that won’t mix in with your salad or pasta entrée, for example.
Create the perfect workspace
The chief idea behind the much-talked-about “Meal Prep Sunday” is a few hours of prep for a week free of worry. It’s a great concept! You’ll just want to make those initial few hours as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Clear out ample counter space in your kitchen (as well as your refrigerator or freezer, for the meals themselves), put on some music or your favorite TV show and enjoy!
Think “big picture”
When you can combine cooking processes, you save some valuable time in the kitchen! This is especially true as you prep many different meals for the week ahead. Also, be sure to get the longer processes started first (like slow-cooked stews, chilis, etc.) so that you can have more time to focus on the details later on.
Mix and match
To keep your meals fresh and exciting, you might prefer a mix-and-match approach: cook several types of meat (perhaps chicken, beef and pork) to rotate with grain bases of quinoa, rice and pasta—for example—so that you never tire of your new routine.
Put your leftovers to use
Have some leftovers in the fridge? You can work them into some of your meals for the week, too! Put a new spin on them as you do—for example, leftover chicken from your Chicken & Waffles here at Peach Valley can be worked into a wrap or even po’ boy-style sandwich for lunch on Monday. If you take your salad with dressing on the side, you can easily incorporate the lettuce and other ingredients into a tasty wrap or even pasta salad, storing the dressing separately to toss later.
Pack it up
Like we just mentioned, storing your dressing, oils and other wet mix-ins separately can keep your “base” food (lettuce, sandwiches, etc.) from getting soggy before you get to enjoy them. The same goes true for pairings like chips and salsa. When it comes time to store your prepped meals before they’re ready to be enjoyed, you can simply pop containers in the fridge (or freezer, if you plan to have them a week or more out).
We hope that today’s guide helps you meal prep with ease! Of course, any good routine leaves room for fun. Be sure to enjoy brunch or lunch with Peach Valley to mix up your method and enjoy a hands-off meal after prepping—you’ve earned it!