You’ve seen the show + tell ‘grams demonstrating how to make a week’s worth of beautifully portioned, colorful food in one day, leaving your week to whatever else you want to do that does not include cooking. While it sounds too good to be true, no one can argue with how it might feel to start a week prepared with meals ready to go or waiting for you when you walk in the door. Still, many of you scroll past this idyllic meal prepping scenario because it is daunting and requires time up front you cannot afford. Since we all have to eat and it takes work at one point or another, here are our 4 styles of meal prep to support your busy life.
Prep all your meals for the week.
Active time commitment: 4-6 hours depending on how many people you are preparing for
First of all, add up how many meals you want to prep. Second, pull recipes you want to eat and work to cross over ingredients when possible. Last, fill in the holes and make a cooking plan. Starting with a theme using similar ingredients like Greek Meatballs and Chop-chop Greek Salad will help you see your week come together in a way that works for you. To prep a week’s worth of eating requires a big chunk of time up-front but results in time saved later.
Prep breakfasts, lunches, dinners, or snacks.
Active time commitment: 2-3 hours
If a full-size meal prep does not fit your needs, time, or family, don’t discount how prepping one part of your day for the week could lessen stress. Prep a few day’s breakfasts and see how starting a morning with something already accomplished translates into further efficiency. Or try these lunchbox ideas to jumpstart the school year for you and your kids.
Plan your week and prep the pieces.
Active time commitment: 1-2 hours
Plan 3-4 pieces that go together in a number of mixed and matched ways. In this case, think grain bowls and big salads. Slow cook a meat or pot of beans that can work in various forms. Making a large batch of protein makes for delicious tacos, salads, grain bowls, and breakfast hash. Not to mention, it freezes well if you decide you are done with it midweek. Here are 4 easy prepping tasks to get you started:
- Shredded Pork and/or slow cooked pinto or black beans
- Large batch of rice, quinoa, or riced cauliflower
- Wash, chop, and store kale, swiss chard, or collard greens for a quick sauté
- Eggs to fry and top your bowl or salad, pass the hot sauce.
Prep one day.
Active time commitment: as little or long as it takes!
Perhaps you notice that Wednesdays are particularly hard to manage given your schedule, or you have an event that will consume you on the horizon. For this reason, consider prepping one entire day ahead of time to support the possible pressure you see coming. Preparing for a crazy week might even mean buying pre-cut veggies and planning for take-out.
Ultimately, a little prep goes a long way in supporting the life you want to live. For more ideas on efficiency, productivity and balance, check out our posts Why You Should Manage Your Energy Not Your Time and 4 Tried and True Tricks for Balance While You Work From Home.