The words 'food prep' have really become a bit of a buzz phrase on social media in recent years. Most people tend to equate prepping with extra time on Sunday that should be spent doing more important things like going to brunch, hanging out with family or doing yard work (#adulting). But I'm in the camp that food prep does not have to take hours, so I thought it might be helpful to break down my (much shorter) process.
Even spending one solid hour organizing your grocery haul, then prepping some things for the week can have a huge benefit. One strategy you might try is to set a timer for 60 minutes and get as much as possible done in that amount of time. You would be surprised how much you can accomplish.
Rest assured, we aren't talking about rows of chicken breast, broccoli and brown rice in perfectly lined up tupperware containers here. My strategy is to make enough grab and go breakfasts and snacks to keep things simple on weekday mornings, plus pre-chop some of the more time-intensive dinner components ahead of time to speed things up on the night of. It's a relatively small amount of time that pays back in a huge way during the busy work week.
Not sure where to start? Here is an example dinner plan with suggestions for food prep that you can do on Sunday.
On the Menu
Monday - 20-Minute Shiitake Mushroom Ramen (meatless Monday!)
Wednesday - Spiced Chickpea and Kale Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Thursday - Simple Grilled Salmon, Rice, Vegetable
Friday - Vegged Out Game-Day Nachos
Sunday to-do List:
- Think about how to make breakfasts easier for the week: make a batch of hard-boiled eggs, prep overnight oats, and chop fruits/veggies for smoothie packs that you can keep in the freezer and then just add liquid when ready to blend
- Cook a big batch of brown rice (time-intensive on a week night).
- Slice peppers and onions for sautéing later
- Wash and chop your vegetable that's planned for Thursday if it won't wilt or brown; wash fresh herbs, wrap in a paper towel and store in a large zip top bag
- Make peanut sauce and store in a jar
- Spiralize your zucchini for the Tuesday dish
- Chop fresh veggies for easy snacking before dinner when you need something to munch on. I like carrots, celery and red bell pepper and keep them next to hummus in the fridge. These are perfect for pre-dinner snacking - just enough to tide your hunger without totally spoiling your appetite.
- Wash and chop any fruit that needs to be prepped, like melon or strawberries. If you do this ahead of time and you can just grab and go, you'll be much more likely to reach for it.
- Make homemade pizza dough if that's your thing (I usually buy it from the store)
Invest in some high-quality food storage containers because as silly as it sounds, stained and warped containers might make you shy away from packing your lunch as often as you might otherwise. I like these pyrex ones (affiliate link) and use them daily for leftovers and/or packing my food for the day. I love that they are microwave and dishwasher safe because hand-washing dishes is pretty much my least favorite chore - so now I don't have to do it!
Taking time to do all of these food prep tasks when you already have cutting boards and knives out and dirtied is a huge time saver. Plus, sometimes it can be hard to find motivation to cook after a long day of work so the less steps your dinner involves, the more likely you are to actually make it. Always make the healthy choice the easy choice! By setting yourself up for success you'll be much more likely to stay on track with your plan.
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