To the uninitiated, meal prepping for the week seems so overwhelming, right!? All those sweet little glass containers stacked neatly that you see on Instagram and Pinterest just look like they’re something only Type-A, uber-organized, super on-top-of-it people do.
But I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN DO THIS. Meal prepping for the week, or making meals and recipes and preparing ingredients ahead of time, is not only a healthier and cheaper way of cooking for yourself and your family, but it’s the most freeing feeling ever.
Meal Prepping takes work out of your week
If I could make a new year’s wish for everyone I know, it would be the total comfort of knowing you’ve got lunches and dinner and even breakfast and snacks HANDLED for a week.
When you meal prep effectively, you’re batching your time and efforts and the payoff comes in spades.
But it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning stages, so I’m going to walk you through 1 week of easy meal prepping for 2 adult lunches.
If you’re new to meal prepping, start by taking it one step at a time.
I’ve found that when it comes to lunch, it’s tough to prep more than a week in advance; after that, you get into “store it in the freezer or deal with floppy food” and neither of those things translates well into lunchtime. Trust me on that one.
So I ventured out into these here interwebs to find you 5 simple lunches that combine ingredients and prep techniques, so you can easily get one big bag of groceries and make it into 5 days of lunches for two adults.
We’ll walk through this together, okay? You can do this! And it will feel so good!
First things first: let’s make sure you got what you need:
• Storage containers (these are my faves for lunchtime)
• Writing utensils (I’m partial to Sharpies on masking tape, but dry-erase are great for writing straight on glass containers)
• Time (one hour is all you’ll need)
• Something to listen to (might I suggest this amazing, incredible, super helpful podcast by a well-known meal planning genius!?)
Before we start piecing together how to start meal prepping for the week, let me tell you this:
If you don’t want to watch your meal prepped recipes die a slow death in the fridge, here’s the secret: make something you can’t WAIT to eat. Then, it’s easy!
The meal prep structure below is an example of a meal prep week, and the key here is to find
1: recipes you are like, “OMG GIMME” and
2: recipes that share common ingredients, so you can prep once and eat twice.
Because that’s all I’ve really done here:
- I found 5 recipes with common ingredients and preparations that sounded freaking killer.
- I took the recipes and put together a grocery list (below).
- Then I broke the recipes down into prep, and stored them with labels.
Watch what I do below, and then try it for yourself: find 5 recipes with common ingredients and then break ‘em down.
Then, watch as I walk you through one week’s worth of lunches, step-by-step.
Obviously, the crockpot soup will take longer than an hour, but you get the point of the exercise.
I’ll show you how I’ll take the longest cooking method and get it ready first, then the next longest.
Then I’ll prepare all the salad vegetables at once while the grains for the salads are cooking, and mix the dressings.
By “batching” your combining your prep forces at once, you can peel through recipes faster, and then just combine recipes at the same time.
This shaves tons of time off your total prep time amount, meaning you can easily put a whole week’s worth of recipes together in one hour.
Please note: I haven’t actually prepped this whole week of lunches; these are recipes I found according to the style I recommend, which is finding like ingredient with a like ingredient, and then I prepared a prep list in the same way I always do.
Ok, ready to begin?
Here are the recipes:
1. Butternut Squash, Chicken, and Quinoa Soup in the Crockpot from Chelsea’s Messy Apron
2. Spicy Sweet Potato and Chicken Meal Prep Bowls (but I’ll be subbing butternut squash for the sweet potatoes)
3. Chopped Chickpea Salad
Here is the grocery list:
Here’s how I’ll prep everything together:
Make the soup first
Rinse the quinoa under cold water, and add to the crockpot. Add the remaining soup ingredients and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6, until the squash is completely cooked through and soft. If preferred, add extra water as the quinoa will absorb quite a bit. To store, pour into individual containers and label.
Once the soup is cooking, turn the stove to 450*F and make the Spicy Chicken Meal Prep Bowls according to the recipe, subbing butternut squash in place of sweet potatoes, and 1 packet of fajita seasoning as the “spicy seasoning” the recipe calls for. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature, then package in containers and label.
While the sheet pan meal is cooking, prepare the salads. Chop the celery, bell pepper, radish, red onion, carrot, scallions, and parsley. Mince the garlic. If you didn’t find prepared florets, chop cauliflower and discard the stems. Slice the lemon and juice.
Once the veggies are prepared, cook the grains. Fill 2 medium pots of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove 2 cups of boiling water and pour over the bulghar; allow to steep until soft and then drain, an out 3-5 minutes. Season with salt.
Add the quinoa to one pot and couscous to the other; cook according to package directions and then drain and season with salt.
While the grains are cooking, mix the dressings for the salads.
Then put the meal prep salad bowls together. Add the prepared salad vegetables to meal prep bowls, then the grains, then the dressings. Add the lids, label, and store.
Annnnnnd you’re done! See how I combined forces of effort, combined vegetables, putting things together with “like” things? It makes your workload SO much easier, and the time goes faster.
I hope this helps! If you wind up making this meal prep for the week yourself, PLEASE tag me on Instagram at @percolatekitchen!