Some of my favourite weekends centre around food.
A Pinterest recipe pinning frenzy on Friday evening, a trip to the grocery store on Saturday morning, a little mealtime indulgence on Saturday evening and a lot of cooking for the week ahead on Sunday.
I’m quite possibly an emotional eater and, if there was ever any doubt, my foodie weekends confirm it. I’m pretty sure I spend at least 90% of my two days a week off thinking about (and eating!) food. Meal plans relax me, cooking de-stresses me and, rightly or wrongly, eating seems to comfort me. Plus, over the last few weeks I’ve found myself happiest in the kitchen, so why wouldn’t I spend the best part of a weekend in there?
If nothing else, it’s proved a useful routine to get into – I’ve been able to get my weekly food prep down to kind of a fine art. Preparing my meals ahead of time has helped me to save money and stick to a healthier, more balanced diet, as well as cutting down my food waste and saving me time in the week. Good news for those of us who are happiest in the kitchen then! And if cooking up a storm on a Sunday afternoon’s not quite your cup of tea, hopefully you’ll still be able to use some of these weekly meal prep tips and tricks to achieve your desired goal.
So, without further ado, on with the tips – happy meal prepping everyone!
- Check your diary. If you know where you’re going to be and when it’ll be much easier to plan. There’s no point in making five packed lunches at the start of the week, if you’re scheduled to eat out for half of it. Knowing how much food you need to buy will mean you’re less likely to waste it.
- Take stock of what’s in your store cupboard. This has always been my biggest meal prep downfall. Instead of choosing recipes around what’s in my cupboard, I’d buy in extra food to accommodate whatever recipe I fancied that week. If you’re not shopping on a budget and you have large kitchen cupboards, I guess that’s no bad thing. But for me, all those half-used packets of polenta, brown rice and quinoa added up! Choosing recipes that’ll use up the food in your cupboard usually makes much more sense.
- Scour the recipe books (and your favourite blogs!) Once you know what’s in your store cupboard, you can start searching for the perfect recipes. Don’t forget to check how many portions each recipe will make so you can plan to eat the leftovers, or reduce the quantities instead. Try to pick recipes that complement each other, so if one recipe calls for half an onion, a quarter of a carrot, or not quite a whole tub of yoghurt, you can plan a meal later in the week that will use up the rest.
- Buy a notebook or download an app. I use two apps to get myself organised for the week: Pinterest and Wunderlist. Pinterest is great for getting all of my recipes in one place as well as finding new recipe ideas. I then use Wunderlist to map out roughly what I’m going to eat each day, write a shopping list, and set reminders to defrost food (if needed).
- Build in a flexi day. The down side of weekly meal prep is that you’re inevitably going to have at least one day in the week where you don’t feel like eating what you’ve planned. For me, that’s usually on a Thursday, so I pencil in that night’s dinner as a ‘flexi day’. It means I can have a takeaway, or pop by the shop for something different on the way home from work. And if I don’t fancy doing that, there’s usually something in the freezer to eat instead. Which brings me to tip number six…
- Make the freezer your new best friend. No one wants to eat the same meal for five days running. That’s where the freezer comes in! Pretty much everything I make is freezable. Just chuck the leftovers into some freezer-safe tupperware and store it away for another day. If you’re worried you’ll forget what’s in there, buy some labels to write the name of the food and the date on the tub before you freeze it.
- Get cooking! Make Monday night’s lasagne the night before and simply bake it when ready. Boil up a large quantity of soup and reheat it in separate portions as and when. Bake your bread, chop your veg or slow cook your meat. Whatever you can make ahead of time – do! Trust me, when you trudge through your front door at 7pm after a long ol’ day at work, that bit of extra effort will all be worth it!
What’s your top weekly meal prep tip?