Nowadays, everyone can google “meal prep” and find countless examples of how to plan and prepare meals at home for a healthy week ahead. Ever since starting a new job where I no longer get free hot meals for lunch (those previous meals were mediocre at best and could hardly be called healthy anyway), I found it necessary to get serious about meal planning. Not only does it save money, it also minimizes the day-to-day stress of figuring out what to make/eat. It sets a good example as my daughter gets older because she watches us making food a lot. Most importantly, it assures that most of our meals for the week are homemade and nutritious.
For the most part, prepping + cooking + cleaning takes anywhere from 2-3 hours on Sundays for my husband and me. Sometimes when there is a lot of prep involved, splitting the work on Saturday and Sunday definitely helps (like this weekend). This dedicated time really helps our weekdays run smoothly, helps us know we will have good quality, tasty food to eat, and takes the guess work out of the day. I honestly feel 100% better when I eat home cooking compared to grabbing something, even if it’s healthy, from the nearby supermarket salad/sushi/soup section.
I’ve posted a number of Sunday meal prep photos on Instagram, but I thought I’d go into more detail for anyone interested in starting but overwhelmed by the process. Hope this is helpful!
Step 1: Decide what meals you need to prep for that week. This might be 3 meals a day for 5 days, or less depending on your job/schedule/travel plans, etc. Write these down.
Step 2: Write down the ingredients you need to buy to make each dish. Once you start doing this for a while, a lot of the ingredients will already be at home (i.e. spices, frozen items, etc.) and you’ll just need to restock fresh produce, etc.
Step 3: Write a new list, reorganizing your ingredients by where they are in the grocery store. This makes shopping much faster so you’re not walking back and forth wasting time! Or, if you prefer, order your groceries online.
Step 4: Shop! Do this as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Having a well-organized list definitely helps aimless wandering through the aisles.
Step 5: Cut and prep any veggies that same day and keep them in the fridge since you will be cooking the next day. Depending on your needs/schedule, you can always cook part of the food Saturday and the rest Sunday. Whatever you think will be the easiest!
Step 1: Plan out what order you’ll cook things in. I often have 3-4 burners going at once to multi-task and save time. Again, the more you do this, the more intuitive it will become. The goal is not to cook each dish one at a time because then you’ll really spend all day cooking. And (almost) no one wants to do that!
Step 2: Start cooking! Make it fun – put on some music, the TV, an audiobook, podcast, whatever you like.
Step 3: Try to clean as you go. A lot of times food is just cooking on the stove and does not need your full attention. Use that time to clean up so everything doesn’t pile up by the time you finish cooking.
Step 4: Place everything in containers and let cool to room temperature before storing it in the fridge. I tend to store in large glass containers and pack small portions for my meals each evening. You can also choose to pre-pack your meals individually all at once. I just don’t have that much tupperware!
For an example of a more involved meal prep that we did this weekend, read on! The meals and groceries are listed in the photos above.
Washed and cut all the veggies and put them into separate bowls based on what dishes they were going into. Stored these in the fridge.
- Avial: carrots, green beans, okra, green plantain, yellow onions, ivy gourd, Chinese eggplant
- Chinese eggplant + yellow onions
- Shredded carrots + chopped green onions + yellow onions
- Red onions (for chicken curry)
- Cut ginger, garlic, and green chilies which went into each dish.
2. Cut and washed chicken thighs for curry, and set in a colander to drain.
3. Shredded zucchini and baked in oven for 8-10 minute to let it dry out a bit (for zucchini bread)
5. Made the carrot/green onion/coconut dish and Chinese eggplant dish
6. Clean up
7. Made zucchini bread (2 loaves = 10 slices. Serves as part of breakfast for Nirav and me for 5 days. I often will also eat a hard boiled egg and/or a smoothie made in the morning)