How to make all of your meals for the week in under 2 hours (and save about 10!)
March 3, 2016
You probably know by now that I'm a huge fan of the meal prep.
I cook about 80% of our meals using the meal prep method to save time, money, and other precious resources like water and sanity.
Meal prep can seem overwhelming. It takes a lot of work to make a lot of food.
Here are my tips and a sample of how I do it.
1) Map out a plan and begin with the biggest time-sucker.
Grab a pen first.
This can help you best chart your course. Identify the foods that will take the longest to cook (roast, sautee, boil etc) and begin with those steps first. The smaller portioning (like smoothie packs, blended items, etc) can be saved for last while everything else is cooking.
This seems obvious but I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten to turn on my stove before I roast something for an hour. Keeping a list out keeps me organized and clear on where to start.
2) Cut all of your veggies at once and use prep bowls to save any extras.
Even if you aren't planning to use all of your carrots, for example, cut em up anyway. You're more likely to eat something that's already prepared and this will save you even more time. I prefer to slice my extras a little thicker just in case they need to be further chopped and they keep longer
3) Cook your grains (lentils, quinoa, etc) while you're prepping and roasting veggies.
Same goes for defrosting. I like to start with anything that needs boiling and slightly undercooking them. That way they don't get mushy by the end of the week and you won't overcook anything when you're distracted with all the other prepwork.
4) Use your crockpot whenever you can.
Set it and forget it- Crock pots are amazing. If you're planning on a stew or crockpot casserole later in the week- use mealprep time to chop and store all the incredients in a bag to dump in when the day comes. Since you'll be cooking most ingredients all at once, you won't need to keep everything separate.
5) If you don't have hundreds of containers, pre-slice casseroles for easy portioning or write a note on top so you know which ladle/ serving size per food.
Portioning can be a pain. Keeping everything in smaller containers helps temptation and overeating, but staying honest about how much you're supposed to portion out will help, too.
6) Keep everything in a separate container for mixing it up.
Mix and match your veggies, grains, and proteins to keep things exciting during the week. I typically get bored or burnt out very early... so this helps me mix it up. Occassionally I'll make a large pot of quinoa and I'll add it to salads, make a breakfast cereal with it, or toss it with veggies and add a fun spice.
Here is an example of what I made this week:
Roasted peppers, roasted chickpeas
Heat you oven to 400 and chop all your stuff.
Roast your veggies first
Then boil water and and prep your lentils.
I used carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and cauliflower in a Crock Pot. I chop the veggies whilst I boil water and dump them in with the lentils, some water, and veggie broth.
By now the water is usually boiling and I dump in the quinoa, then check on the veggies. I watch the quinoa as I clean up the ktichen. Usually the veggies and quinoa finsih at the same time (depending on thickness), so it's easy to set them out and have them cool while I finish cleaning. The lentils usually take about 3-4 hours in the crock pot so I can finish working until dinner is ready. For this dish I combined the lentils and quinoa and dumped them over a salad. Easy to multitask and lasts the whole week!