I talk a lot about weekly meal prep on Instagram and have become quite fond of sharing macro bowl photos that show the different ways that I use the prepared ingredients throughout the week. Since my Instagram community seems to love seeing posts on the topic (#mealprepmonday!), today I’m going to give you a more in-depth look into what my weekly meal prep looks like.
What is “meal prep” and why do it?
For me, meal prep means preparing large batches of ingredients, all at once, so the cooking time lunches and dinner for the rest of the week is cut way down.
When do you do it and how long does it take?
I usually do mine on Sunday or Monday. Or it can be a random Wednesday depending on what’s going on that week. Not including the time it takes for grocery shopping, I usually spend about 2-3 hours preparing everything. That might sound like a lot of time, but when I do the majority of the work ahead of time, my lunches and dinners only take 5-10 minutes to put together.
Do you really make an entire week’s worth of meals for 2 1/2 people?
Not exactly. I used to pack Ross’s lunch for work, but with Baby V on the scene I’ve fallen out of the habit lately and he’s been getting lunch at work. On average, I usually go out for lunch one day a week, Ross and I go out for dinner once, and we order takeout once. My meal prep accounts for that, so it’s about 6 lunches for me, 5 dinners for Ross and me, and all of Baby V’s meals. Some weeks we have more social stuff going on so it can be a lot less.
All of Baby V’s meals??
Yep! No “baby food” jars in our house (more about that here), and you may not believe me, but meal prepping for V is SO easy. Seriously, she loves all sorts of roasted veggies and beans, which are very easy to make large batches of ahead of time. Throw in some fresh fruit and her favorite cashew yogurt and she is a very happy camper.
So what do you do with the prepared ingredients?
My go-to meal is a macro bowl (see photo below) or I’ll also throw the roasted veggies and protein into a pasta dish, layer everything in a sandwich, whip up a stir-fry or toss it all in a salad. See some examples in the photos below!
My meal prep looks different each week, depending on what produce is in season, what’s on sale and what we’re craving. Here’s a rundown of all the categories I usually hit:
Grains. Brown rice, lentils or quinoa are my staples. I’ll make a large batch of one, or smaller batches of all three if I’m feeling ambitious.
Beans. I’ll admit that sometimes our beans come out of a (BPA-free) can, but on my best week, I’ll cook them from bulk section dried beans. Chickpeas, black beans, white beans and adzuki beans are favorites in our house. Baby V LOVES hummus (must get it from her mama!) so I’ll often make an extra large batch of beans so half can be blended into hummus.
Roasted Vegetables. This is where the variety comes in that keeps things from getting boring! I’ll get whatever looks super fresh at the farmers market (or Whole Foods if I miss the market), chop it all up, toss it with olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and roast it at 400°. The cooking time will vary depending on each vegetable, but if you keep an eye on your veggies so they don’t burn, you can’t go wrong!
Sauce. You probably know that I’m a major tahini lover. Here’s my go-to lemon-tahini sauce that I love to drizzle over macro bowls. If I’m feeling wild, sometimes I switch things up and make a balsamic vinaigrette or creamy cashew ranch (also will be in my book!) or peanut sauce. I make things super easy and love to use the same sauce as salad dressing, in a stir-fry, or smeared on a sandwich.
Fresh things! I keep fresh greens like kale, spinach and chard on hand for salads or easy sautes (just saute them with a splash of olive oil until wilted), as well as fresh fruit, avocadoes and raw veggies for salads.
Something fermented. I’ll share a more in-depth post about all the fermented foods that we eat a regular basis soon. For now, here’s a basic rundown. Fermented foods contain good bacteria that keeps your digestive system working at it’s best, and a happy gut means a happy…everything! I feel my best when I have something fermented at 1-2 meals a day. We eat a lot of sauerkraut (mostly homemade but sometimes I see store-bought flavors I can’t resist), and also keep pickles, coconut and cashew yogurt, kombucha and kvass.
The photo at the top of the post shows the ingredients that I prepared last week. The photos below show a few of the meals (with only 5-10 minutes prep work!) that we enjoyed during the week.