Everyone knows September is the real new year. Maybe it’s the child in us that never ceases to get excited / slightly depressed before going back to school and the new beginnings that September implies. In any case, we feel excited /slightly depressed about the new season. Our main resolution this year is keeping our meal prep game strong because our days are going to be packed this Autumn and who doesn’t hate that moment when you open the fridge every night and think: what can we eat? Since we’ve been meal prepping during years we thought about sharing our main tips in case you want to get your fridge and pantry organized and enjoy delicious meals every day.
Choose about twenty recipes that you have already prepared and liked. It’s the moment to go back to your favourite cookbooks or food blogs! Leave new recipes for lazy Sundays, when it comes to meal prep you want things that you know you like. Try to choose recipes that are based on seasonal produce, this way, shopping will be easier and the food will be tastier.
Organization is key:
Write a weekly calendar and start choosing among those recipes your lunches and dinners for the week. Bear in mind which ingredients you will need so that you can make the most of them. For instance, if we prepare a cauliflower rice on Monday and we know we will be having half cauliflower to spare, we would choose a cauliflower wok for another mid week lunch or a cauliflower pizza for one of the following nights.
List yor ingredients before going to the supermarket. If you are a beginner, make two lists: one with the basics and non perishables that you will always need like spices, rice, pasta, oils or canned good and another list including the fresh ingredients you will need for the week. Once you get the hang of this, you will add to that second weekly list some of those basics and non perishables when you need to replace them. And don’t forget to replace them! A well-stocked pantry will help you in the long term!
Buy what you need:
Divide your weekly grocery shopping in two days. The point of meal prepping is eating better and, for us, that includes lots of fresh produce. That’s why we recommend shopping two times a week, so that ingredients are always fresh and you avoid spoiled food in your fridge or pantry. For us, it’s usually Friday and Wednesday. On Friday we choose our menu for the upcoming week and then we buy the main ingredients for all the meals that we can prep during the weekend. Normally we cook during the weekend and sort everything out until Wednesday. Then, on Wednesday we buy the fruits and vegetables that we will need for the rest of the week until Friday night and cook accordingly. Choose a schedule that works for you!
Freeze. Even though nothing beats a good freshly made meal, if you work full time, try to work out, attend classes and have a busy life (I can’t imagine what having kids would add to that schedule!) try to prepare a few meals during the weekend to freeze, so that you just have to come back home, put on your pjs, take your lunch box out of the freezer… and your meal for the next day would be ready! Please bear in mind that you can’t freeze already frozen produce, so buy your proteins fresh, cook them and then freeze them. Some of our favourite recipes to freeze are this beef and bacon stew or this chicken stir fry .
Another great idea is cooking food that lasts well in the fridge, like this slow roasted pork shoulder, which will sort out lots of meals for you! It makes a killer leftover sandwich, for instance. Think about veggie creams and soups that you can prepare in bulk during the weekend and freeze too.
On a daily basis:
Make dinners easy. We prefer freezing our lunches al desko and prepare our dinners on the day. However, we choose the easiest recipes with just a bunch ingredients for our dinners. While we always choose veggies and protein lunches, very healthy and very adult appropriate, we love our dinners fun and kind of naughty, but still healthy. It’s our way of rewarding ourselves after a long day. However, we do prepare our “fast food”, so that it has the best ingredients that are actually good for us. Some examples are this red cabbage salad, these quesadillas, these salmon and egg wraps, these spicy chicken burgers or the easiest hummus. Our tip then would be: choose delicious, fun, quick recipes for your week dinners.
Prepare some snacks and extras to cheer up your week. Instead of grabbing a chocolate bar or a greasy bag of crisps from the vending machine, bake your own treats and take them with you. It will be better for your health. We tend to bake one of these recipes on Sundays, so our coffee breaks at work during the week are more interesting: coconut and chocolate bars, spicy roasted chickpeas, almond bites or rasperry and pistacchio brownies.
And repeat! Try to stick to the schedule and you will soon notice the benefits of meal prepping. On the one hand, your life will be easier and more organized and, on the other hand, your health will thank you. It’s a win-win!