Weekly Meal Prep – How to Do It Like a Pro
I’ve come to realise that long term healthy eating almost always comes down to savvy preparation and building of good habits. More often than not this means some form of weekly meal prep involving pre-cooked meals and ingredients.
Because let’s face it, good intentions and motivation can go out the window when you’ve been hit with a crazy day at work, late shift or unexpected surprise in your schedule.
But, if you’ve smugly planned and prepped yourself and your environment in anticipation of becoming lazy, time-poor and HUNGRY throughout your week (the trifecta for bad meal decision-making), then you have resources and systems to fall back on that will keep you on track with your health goals.
In other words, you have food in the fridge and/or freezer stocked with ready to go meals and / or ingredients that make pulling a meal together quick and painless.
How does it work?
For many, meal prep takes place over the weekend when you have a good chunk of time to spend in the kitchen gettin’ busy with it.
Typically, you need to set aside about two hours for washing, cutting and cooking so that you can feed yourself a solid menu of good nosh for a full work week (resulting in minimum time in the kitchen on your weeknights).
It’s become a popular movement to save such batch cooking and prepping for a lazy Sunday arvo, and I have to agree this time slot works well. You’re usually winding down from the weekend and more inclined to have some spare time.
I’ll be honest, I used to look at this weekly meal prep session as a chore and put it off over my weekend, cause I had “better things to do” y’all.
But, now it’s an activity I embrace and enjoy. Not only does it set me up for the week, it also forces me to carve out some time to play in the kitchen using the fresh produce I’ve just bought from the markets in my Sunday morning haul.
What’s more, I’ve shaped it to be “my time”….my time to let my mind wander, to relax and get creative!
Now, rather than try to rush through everything, I take my time and really aim to maximise my kitchen productivity.
I crank a great playlist depending on my mood, which might range from old school groovy jazz to the latest hip hop beats. Lately, I’ve also used this time as an opportunity to catch up on podcasts or listen to Audible books, allowing me to learn or get inspired while I cook.
Now, I’m always interested in learning how others tackle weekly meal prep, so I figured I’d share a sneak peek into my approach…
My Weekly Meal Prep Guide & Inspo:
Step 1: Make Veggie Stock from Scraps
I like to start all weekly meal prep sessions by making a very simple veggie stock from my scraps over the week, a method inspired by Sarah Wilson’s book Simplicious (which I highly recommend if you’re keen to cut down on food waste while enjoying healthy, no-fuss, nutritious meals)!
Basically, I collect all my veggie scraps over the week in a plastic bag in the fridge and then give it all a good rinse before chucking it in a big pot and covering with fresh water.
Veggie scraps might include things like:
- herb stems and cuttings (parsley, dill, coriander, basil, etc)
- corn cobs
- carrot peelings
- broccoli and cauliflower stems
- parmesan rinds
- celery leaves
I then add a couple roughly chopped onions, some dried herbs (mustard seeds, dill seeds, coriander seeds), salt, and peppercorns to the mix. It’s always a bit different depending on what I have in the fridge at the end of the week. Essentially I just try to chuck in and use up anything that’s wilting or might add some flavour.
As you can see, this batch has most of the items listed above.
Step 2: Make Lunch
I like to batch lunch with meal prepping sometimes to save time as I’m already in the kitchen with all the gear out so I don’t have to double up on clean-up.
In this session, while the stock came to the boil I whipped up a quick salad using remains in my fridge – the last of my coriander, some rocket, leftover dill potato salad with green beans from a dinner I made the night before, some fried corn in butter / EVOO, and red onion.
I added further scraps that resulted from this meal, like more coriander stems, onion peels and corn cobs to the stock pot.
Step 3: Meal #1
The first meal I started on cooking this session was a tomato eggplant sauce, which I plan to use in pasta or as a side over the week (great to freeze in batches too).
I had bought a massive carton of cherry tomatoes at the markets last week that were beginning to overripen and needed to be used up stat! I also had leftovers of a baked eggplant parmigiana recipe discovered on JS Health (another awesome resource for quick healthy recipes) from last night’s dinner that I figured could be cooked with the tomatoes, along with a red onion that had been floating in my fridge for a while, leftover passata sauce, and some Italian herbs and spices.
Lucky this flavour combo all worked out very well and the sauce was a success.
Step 4: Cook Meal #2
Now that my tomato sauce was underway and cooking, I began on the next meal. Again I had bought two broccolis on sale that I wanted to use up along with some, potatoes, parsley and basil. By now, the veggie stock I had started with was ready. And cause I’m a hella genius, I was like, OMG I’ll make broccoli soup!
So, I fried up some onion and garlic for a base and added dried mixed herbs chopped broccoli and potatoes. Then I strained the stock and put it back in the same pot with everything else and brought this to the boil before simmering for about 15-20 mins to create a soup that I’d later blend.
Step 5: Clean Up
By now my kitchen looks a little bit like a war zone with dishes all over the shop. I batch my cleaning/dishes at the end and put everything I’ve been using from the fridge and pantry away. Usually, by the end of this process, things have finished cooking and I can turn the stove off for things to cool.
In this instance, it was pretty much 2hrs on the dot from the start to the end of washing up, including the time I took to make and eat my lunch (and a coffee). Not bad!
I left everything to cool, knowing I’d have dinner ready for the evening too, at which point the meals are usually cool enough to transfer to portioned containers to freeze or store in the fridge.
Every weekly meal prep session is different!
Sometimes I plan out recipes I want to try and buy specific produce at the markets for the cook-up, and other times it’s a lot more spontaneous and experimental (like this one).
As I’m sure you noticed, for me, this week was all ’bout using up leftovers and the remains of my fridge.
So…you’ll be hearing a lot more about zero waste living here soon 😉
Anyway, I’d love to know…
Do you do weekly meal prep on the weekend?
What are your tips and methods?
Please share in the comments! I’d love to read them x