I used to think I was too busy to cook at home, that I simply didn't have enough time in a day. We often take on more commitments than we can handle, thinking we're bettering ourselves in the end and taking pride in our ability to do it all.
But really, few things take priority over our own health. I knew I had to start saying no and weed out less important demands on my time. As the old saying goes, ain't nobody got time for that. Meal prepping has slowly become a habit and, dare I say, time for myself that I now looked forward to.
Here are the 5 things I do every weekend that help me prep for a healthy, efficient and successful week ahead.
1. Write down a meal plan to-do list.
Once I have a meal plan set, I write down a list of items I can prepare ahead of time, when I need to do it and how. Devising a plan of action the night before helps you get into gear with your goals the next morning.
For the upcoming clean eating challenge, Lighten Up Part 3, I set out to prep the following:
- Make: Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Parfaits
- Make: Asparagus Salad
- Make: Green Smoothie Bowls
- Cook lentils (for Lentil Stuffed Grilled Peppers)
- Slice and freeze banana (for Strawberry Ice Cream)
- Cook artichokes (for Spinach and Artichoke Turkey Burgers)
- Cut celery (for snacking)
- Slice radishes and cook pasta (for Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad and snacking)
- Cut green onions (to put on everthing)
2. Make it a party.
Whether it's the ol' Beatles on the record player or "Classic West Coast Rap" on Songza, I'll be sure to blast some tunes in the kitchen. The neighbours love it. Either that, or listening to a good podcast helps make meal prepping exponentially more enjoyable.
3. Have all storage containers ready.
Make sure all your containers are washed and ready for packing. I recommend investing in quality food storage options such as glass Pyrex containers that are typically safe to use in the oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher. This saves you from extra dishes and frees up time when you can simply cook, refrigerate and reheat your food using the same container.
(Mason jars are also always a favourite.)
4. Wash and chop all herbs and produce.
I like to prepare all the fruits, vegetables and herbs I'll be using in the next 3-4 days. Fill up your sink or a large bowl with 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar and soak a batch for about 10 minutes. Give it a good rinse, chop them up and divide into storage containers. Now everything's all ready to go for upcoming meals, smoothies and snacking.
This is also a good way to use up extra ingredients. Sometimes you have to buy produce in quanities greater than you need so having them already washed and prepped makes it easier to add to other recipes. For instance, I'll add the leftover cherry tomatoes to the other salads this week and the rest go into baggies for snacking.
5. Cook multiple things at once.
Multi-task in the kitchen! The beauty of meal prepping ahead of time is that you can utilize your resources more efficiently. Think of the extra time you'd spend if every evening you had to wash and prep ingredients, preheat the oven, or wait for water to boil.
Here are some ways you can multi-task for Lighten Up Part 3:
- Boil eggs and artichoke in the same pot
- Roast strawberries, rhubarb (or apple) and asparagus at the same time
- Cook turkey burgers and grilled peppers in the oven at the same time
Do you have a similar meal prep routine? Are we missing any of your go-to strategies?