When I worked outside the home, Sunday afternoon was always dedicated to weekly food prep. It was absolutely necessary to be able to juggle all of my responsibilities during the week ahead. Now that I work from home, I usually break food prep into two sessions, but the basic premise is the same.
There are a lot of time-saving benefits to this.
You only have one big kitchen clean-up. The rest of the week your dishes only consist of your plates and flatwear, and what you used to heat your food in.
You can multitask by having several things in the oven cooking at once – this also saves on your utility bill. You can also wash and prep all your produce at the same time, and then just wash your colander and cutting board when you’re finished.
Throughout the week meals are strictly grab-and-go. If your food is already prepped, dinner can be on the table in 10-15 minutes every night.
What does a food prep afternoon typically consist of?
*Washing and cutting up vegetables
* Washing fruit
* Portioning out snacks for lunch boxes
* Doing the baking
* Preparing some basic items that can be used in different ways throughout the week (chicken, beef, grains, salad)
When you prepare your food ahead of time, dinner is on the table faster than you can say “drive-thru”. Your budget will thank you because you won’t require those impromptu pizza deliveries when you just don’t feel like cooking. Your waistline will thank you because you won’t grab high-calorie, low-nutrient convenience foods. Your health will thank you because you will be eating nutritious, wholesome foods from scratch that nourish rather than deplete.
I usually spend Sunday afternoons in the kitchen with my daughter. We turn on some good tunes (lately we’ve been into the “Glee” playlists), don some kitschy crazy aprons, and get cooking.
This week, we made:
Veggies for steaming
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Blueberry corn muffins
Broccoli slaw with bacon
Veggies packets for lunchboxes
We ground and sifted flour for the week as well. Because that is a time-consuming task, sometimes I skip using the fresh ground flour and resort to commercial flour in order to speed my baking. This way, we’ll stick to the healthier options!
So, what is this week’s menu?
Well, lunches and snacks are nearly always cobbled together from leftovers. Breakfast is quite often a smoothie.
For dinner this week:
Sunday: Meatloaf muffins, roasted brussels sprouts, wheatberry pilaf
Monday: Crockpot roasted chicken, rutabaga (a new favorite) and steamed veggies
Tuesday: Meatloaf with gravy on homemade rolls, sauteed mushrooms, broccoli slaw, leftover rutabaga
Wednesday: Beef and veggie stew (home canned) with homemade bread
Thursday: Leftover chicken stirfried with prepped veggies and wheatberries
Friday: Homemade pizza topped with chicken and veggies
Saturday: A whatever is left free-for-all, fondly known as “Leftover Buffet”
Do you prep your food ahead of time? What’s for dinner this week at your house?
I love this! Thanks for sharing your menu.
You are very inspiring! You might want to rethink those plastic containers though.
We use mason jars or glass pyrex with BPA free lids, to store our food.
Thank you – great link! I’m in the process of replacing a few pieces at a time with glass. 🙂 The good news is, we don’t use a microwave so the foods are never heated in these containers. What do you use for “on-the-go” lunches? I would worry sending glass in my daughter’s lunchpail.
A quick Google Image search of ECO lunch containers will show you a wonderful array of choices. I use the ECO brand silicone collapsable lunch container. It doesn’t leak, collapses to nearly flat & washes easily in the dishwasher. They come in all shapes & sizes. There are also lots of great stainless steel options.
When my garden is in full production during the summer I make very large batches of 4 or 5 different cassaroles. These are frozen in dishes that will allow my husband and me to have dinner and leftovers for lunch. Since I need to use the pans that the cassaroles were frozen in frequently I remove the frozen cassaroles the next day, wrap them in plastic wrap, put them in a plastic bag and lable them with the date, type if cassarole, and which pan it was frozen in. Later when I know that I will have to stay late at work I can take out a cassarole in the morning before I go to work and let it start to thaw. When my husband gets home he can put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees and dinner is pretty will ready when I get home.
Also when I cook things like Taco Salad topping, Spit pea soup, or Swiss Steak I always make a large batch and freeze part for later dinners. By having these type of dinners already made there isn’t so much prep work on the weekend.
My son is only 8 months old and therefore we don’t pack lunches for him. Ill have to come up with something. Lol. My husband and I use glass.
I also use glass for storage and lunches. I have recently acquired a stainless steel thermos from Klean Kanteen. Its a 12oz size and insulated for cold or hot foods. There are also many other brands and sizes of containers. Bento Box does make a stainless lunch container. They can be pricey though.
At home glass containers and jars are the only thing I use. Even for veggies and lettuce. You can pick up some great refrigerator dishes at antique and resale shops. The very ones my Mother and Grandmothers used before all this “plastic” took over.
Are there any brands of plastic ware safe for storing or heating food? Is it only dangerous when heated? Thanks!
I wouldn’t use any plastic. With all of the options out there, there’s just no reason except that they are so inexpensive. I think, though, the cost comes on the back end from health risk.
What are the odds you could share those recipes, or at least links to them? I’d love to try some of them. 🙂
This is wonderful, detailed & leaves a lot of details open to be played with & tried out & adjusted. Your site is really something, bookmarked & will be printing these out at the lab & archiving them as what I call “new life” tools & yes, inspiration!
I shudder to think what my grandparents would’ve thought–something as simple as meal & nutrition & future preparedness–would be thought of as inspiring to me now. Then again, did they even have to think about voicemail in the 40s and 50s when they graduated college? FB, email? Flat tire & still births & bigotry yes. GMOs, detoxing veggies, & toxins in the soil & rain falling on the garden? Not nearly as much as we do now. Here’s to healthy eating, exercising & spiritual practice folks. Blessings!
Thank you for sharing, I was just wondering if you could give me some advice on the best way to store all the pre prepared fruits and veggies ect and what is their shelf life once prepared? I can’t wait to have a go but have no idea how long things stay fresh 🙂
For cooking a healthy dinner when you are out all day, the crock pot is your best friend. There are lots of web pages out there that provide recipes and shopping lists for “a whole month of meals in one Saturday” – with a whole slew of variations. Basically, you choose several crock pot recipes that have a fair number of ingredients in common, shop for those ingredients all at the same time, and set aside a good chunk of a day to prep them all. Raw ingredients for each meal are put in a freezer safe ziploc bag, labeled with title and date, then all thrown in the freezer. You take a bag out of the freezer at night, stick it in the crock pot before you leave in the morning, and come home to delicious smells and a hot dinner. Especially good for fall and winter.