We all lead pretty busy lives. The last thing anyone wants to do when coming home from a long day is think about dinner. At least the part where you have to cook and clean. The eating part is blissful — but I’m talking about the actual preparation and clean up that’s involved.
That’s why Sunday Meal Prep is my jam.
In addition to our lunches, I also spend a bit of time Sunday evening to prepare three or four dinners for me and my husband. That way, when we each get home from our respective day, dinner is already prepared, and ready to be heated up. It’s quite blissful actually. I’ve been meal prepping for as long as I can remember, and I’m here to share with you…
THE RULES OF SUNDAY MEAL PREP
1. PLAN AHEAD
Before you do anything, there always needs to be a plan in place, right? Well, first figure out how many you’re cooking for. Is it just you? You and a partner? Any children? Realistically, how many meals are you eating at home in the upcoming week?
For us, I look at our joint calendar on the fridge. I see how what our evening plans look like, and calculate how many dinners we’ll be eating together at home. Because you can bet on days where it’s just me, I’m totally content with a bowl of veggies!
2. CHOOSE YOUR MEALS
And the fun part! Pouring over recipes and deciding what you’ll eat. I like to have at least one fish entree throughout the week, maybe one beef dish, and of course — chicken for the rest. My husband is perfectly happy, as long as each meal contains the following: a dead animal, a starch, and a veggie. It’s a pretty easy guideline to follow.
3. WRITE OUT A GROCERY LIST
NEVER — and I repeat — NEVER go grocery shopping without a list. Unless you know a recipe by heart, shopping frivolously without a list is an easy way to get distracted, waste time, and (even worse) buy a bunch of items you don’t really need.
Also, add any additional items you’ll need throughout the week. Like yogurt, milk, eggs, etc. You’re going to get your entire weeks worth of groceries today, so you won’t have to make another trip to the store during the week.
4. GROCERY SHOPPING
The goal is to get in and out as quick as possible. Especially on a crowded Sunday. But remember, you have your list, so you’ll be totally set! Try to stick with your list and not get sidetracked.
5. THE PREP + COOKING
Depending on how many meals I’m making, cooking can take anywhere from 35 minutes to 4 hours. Try to calculate how long it will take you, and budget your time accordingly.
Also, I like to buy fresh fruit and veggies for the week. I wash it, cut it up, and have that ready to go for the week as well. It’s also a fun snack to munch on while cooking. Blueberries are my go-to!
6. THE STORING
I’ve invested in a few sets of pyrex containers. Pyrex glassware is a dream. It keeps the air out, keeps your food fresher longer, can be frozen, and can be placed directly in the oven. Also, they do not stain, and are super easy to clean.
When it comes to storing the dinners I just prepped, I like to keep things separate. Meats in their own container, starches in their own, sauces in another, and veggies in another. Keeping sauces and dressings out will allow the dish to hold longer.
Yes, I also label meals. That way, if I’m really feeling lazy, Alex can be the one to grab dishes and heat them up. It’s a dummy proof system.
7. THE CLEANING
This is the worst part, but knowing that this is basically the only time this week you’ll have to clean the kitchen is kind of a nice feeling. You know the drill: countertops, sweep and mop the floor, scrub down of the stove, wipe down the backsplash, wash pots and pans, a few loads of dishes, and clean off any additional surfaces. Phew!
And now, guess what? You will reap the fruits of your labor throughout the week. I can’t tell you how nice it is to come home and have a meal ready to be heated up. It saves so much time on a random Wednesday evening. I can’t recommend it enough.