I was in a book shop the other day checking out cookbooks ( one of my fave things to do) and saw all these books on “batch cooking” ( in French) a.k.a meal prep. I was intrigued, I skimmed through the pages and basically found out this is what I do nearly every Sunday already for years ♥. I didn’t realize meal prep was a thing you needed a cook book for, little did I know…
I cook a lot, for someone who lives alone, there is always a lot of food around. But than again I have a food site which requires me to test and cook and let’s not to forget I LOVE TO COOK. However I also have busy work days where at the end of the day all I want is to plunk down on my couch and not have to cook dinner. In order to help avoid ordering a yummy but probably not so lean take-out, I take 1 hour time on Sunday morning to just quickly meal prep for the week. Want to know how I do this? Let me walk you through it.
MEAL PREP TIPS – online you can find 206 million ( wow) answers to google search for meal prep tips. I read a few of them and what I have found is that not all tips nor schedules nor plans work for me and what works for me, does not work for others it seems. Most advice starts with “make a plan”, great, I am a planner! But I can’t possible plan what I will eat next Thursday cause I don’t know what I will be in the mood for than. I want to keep it flexible. I like to cook but the prep and the clean up is sometimes what holds be back after a long day at work. So what works for me is to have multiple options ready to reheat, flash cooking and assemble.
1. ANALYZE THE WEEK – ask yourself a few questions: how many meals do you need this week for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner? What is in season? What do I feel like eating? Create a rotation of standard ingredients such as grains and cereals, so you don’t eat the same thing every week.
2. PRE ORDER AND STOCK UP ON FRIDAY – I get all I need in one shopping run on Friday evening, versus going to the (super)market, butcher, fishmonger daily after work or on Saturday with the rest of the world, this helped me a lot. Friday after work is perfect to shop, I pre-order from local shops that close earlier so I can just run in and out lickety-split! The organic supermarket in my hood is open till 19H30, so I can take my time – TG! And any non-perishables can be bought at any given time during the week or ordered and delivered at home.
3. PRE COOK FROM THE PANTRY – I cook most of my cereal, grains and pulses in advance as they are fine to reheat. These are dry and often bulk-buy ingredients and staples in my pantry. This week I cooked tri-clour quinoa, colourful (natural) spelt pasta, pearls of couscous and black lentils.
4. STORE IN FREEZER – I make soup almost every Sunday which I store in my freezer in individual portions. I keep 2 portions in a to-go jar in the fridge so I can take it to the office or reheat at home before going out again. You can always find peas and fava beans in my freezer as they are a real favourite of mine. This week I got some fava beans and made leek soup.
5. BUY FRESH AND PREP – fresh vegetable and herbs are a must but I hate having them lay in the bottom of my fridge for ever and ever because I am too lazy after work to peel, cut and cook. This week I cooked radishes and parboiled potatoes. I bought some fresh chervil to either make into a pesto with the pasta or add to my potatoes and mash them. You can also peel and chop veg, store and cook when needed. I got some fresh strawberries which I rinsed off, they are ready to grab and snack on. I also always have 3 boiled eggs ready, GREAT breakfast-on-the-go-cause-I-am-late!
6. FINISH A LA MINUTE – I never cook chicken, fish nor meat in advance ( unless a winter stew). I rather cook that à la minute (on the spot) as it only takes 1 pan and 15 minutes.
Let me show you what I cooked this Sunday and how endless the combinations are for me this week, this is what is in my fridge:
- 1 portion of tri-colour quinoa, cooked
- 2 portions of spelt pasta, cooked (add olive oil to avoid becoming a lump)
- 1 portion of pearls of couscous, cooked (add olive oil to avoid becoming a lump)
- 4 medium potatoes, par-boiled, makes 2 portions
- 1 portion of black lentils, cooked
FRESH INGREDIENTS :
- 3 eggs, boiled and peeled ( keep in closed container or they stick up the fridge)
- 1 bustle of radishes, fried in some olive oil
- 1 bustle of leeks ( about 5 storks), made into soup
- 1 portion of fava beans, boiled ( from freezer)
- 2 baskets of strawberries, rinsed
- 2 carafes with ice tea from Kusmi Tea (flavours aquaFizz and tropical fruits)
- 2 types of homemade energy bites snacks ( also called bliss balls)
- chervil, rinsed
- parsley, rinsed and stored in waterglass
- lemon ( I recently learned if you put them in a little bit of water in an eggcup in your fridge they last longer)
- 2 chicken breasts ( not cooked)
- 2 portions of fresh salmon ( not cooked)
- grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 single size almond milk packs ( for my breakfast granola)
These items will give me endless combos for the coming week and all of it prepared in 1 hour. A mere 15 minutes flash cook, reheat and assembly job during the week is all that is standing between me and a lovely home made dinner. It gives me immense pleasure and peace of mind when I open the fridge door and it is full with lovely ready-to-eat food and practically no clean up. And if I decide to go out for dinner than I bring in lunch the next day. I pick what to eat when and in a flash it’s ready.
Written and photographed by Sandra Slawinski without commercial deals. I used my the weck pots and jars at Dille en Kamille , oh and that Gimber is a to die for Belgian product I love adding to my water.