If you see awesome pics online of 10 lunch boxes perfectly packed with hashtags like #fitspo and #SundayMealPrep and your reaction is “nobody’s got time for that” or “I wish I could do that but I would destroy my kitchen”, this post is for you.
I get it. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start and you don’t have a clear step by step guide. Remembering an ingredient while the food is already cooking or dealing with a mountain of dishes afterwards can take the joy out of it, and you won’t want to do it again for sure.
But I’m here to tell you there IS a better way. Here’s how to be a pro at meal prepping.
Days before the meal prep
- Before you do anything else, create a list of meals you like to cook (and eat). Whenever meal prep day approaches and you have no idea what to make, take a look at the list and pick something from there. The dishes need to be easy to transport without spillage incidents (sorry lentil soup, I still love you!) and safe to keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Make sure you have some food containers to store the food in. Microwave friendly is better because all you have to do is pop it in to reheat it. That means fewer dishes to clean. If you’re going to take them with you at work, they need to be easy to transport too.
One day before the meal prep
- It’s time to decide what to make. Sources of inspiration include your list, what you have available in your fridge, freezer and cupboards and what’s on offer at the supermarket. Always consider what you have available first because food waste is not only cruel in a world where people still live in poverty, but it’s also literally money in the bin.
- Write down your meal prep shopping list for the rest of the ingredients you need and aim for four portions of the same dish.
- Clean the kitchen. It makes cooking easier and will motivate it to keep it like that.
- Check out if any of your ingredients need to be soaked overnight (e.g. dried beans or chickpeas).
During the meal prep
- Have all your ingredients ready before you start cooking. And then, do your magic.
- The moment you’re done with a dish, either put it in the dishwasher or the sink. And when you have 3-4 dishes in the sink, do them as soon as possible. Don’t let it become overwhelming. This is one of the reasons why having two people in the kitchen for the meal prep is ideal. When Alin and I cook for the week, it usually goes like this: we lay out all the ingredients and then while he’s doing the cooking, I do the dishes. The moment when the food is ready, everything is already clean, dry and put away.
- Let the food cool down while you get the containers ready.
- Pack the food and let it cool down completely before storing it in the fridge.
And that’s it for today. Next week, I’m going to give you a fail-proof formula to create recipes when you’re stuck for ideas. But until then, your challenge for this weekend is to give this guide a go. Cook something for either lunch or dinner that will last you and your family for two days.
Want to share the results with me? Email me a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet or Instagram it and tag @greenzenfit. I wish you’ll make a success out of it. And if you have any questions, you know where to find me.
Let me know in the comments section, what’s your biggest struggle when it comes to batch cooking?
Before I go, I have one more surprise for you. A YouYube video! I talk about the meal prep guide and offer a few hints on next week’s topic. Watch it and let me know what you think, I’m looking forward to reading your opinion!