By blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page!
I have a love-hate relationship with Sunday. It starts off kinda like this. The kids come down one-by-one as they wake up and come in to see us. As I lay in bed, my brain is already on overload thinking of what the next few hours entail. You see, Sunday is my food prep day for the week, and the benefits are huge, I tell you. There’s no turning back once you try it.
I’m not gonna lie. There is some organization and planning involved. But honestly, I couldn’t make lunches and dinners happen throughout the week if I didn’t do this. If you don’t already have a system in place, I highly recommend it. Yes, it takes some work, but you can absolutely do it. And I’m going to show you how.
I generally gather recipe ideas throughout the week. You know the drill. You see a good recipe on a (ahem) blog that you follow or maybe one catches your eye on Pinterest. Or maybe you prefer cookbooks. Whatever it is, gather your recipes and get a plan together for what you want to make for the week. If you don’t enjoy this part of it or you don’t have time for it, enlisting in a meal plan service is a GREAT way to go. Determine what you need for these recipes and start putting them on a shopping list.
One resource that I’ve found to be beyond helpful when it comes to planning meals is our sponsor Plan to Eat. It’s an online meal planner that uses your recipes (instead of picking the meals for you). So, for all those times when you see something you want to make in an upcoming week or save for the future, you import it into the program. You build your calendar from there – for a week, a month, or whatever works for you. It then creates an automatically generated shopping list for you that you can print or view on your phone. Whether you are uber organized or just aspire to be, this is a perfect planning tool, and luckily all new users can try it out for free for the first 30 days!
Lunches and Snacks
What’s on sale this week at your local store? Or what’s in season that you can find at your local farmer’s market (or grocery store)? Think about what you may want to have for lunches and snacks during the week and add them to your list. Personally speaking, I also take into consideration what my kids have had in recent weeks. They do tend to get tired of the same foods if I buy them week after week. Did you bake homemade raisin bread last week? Change it up and make muffins. Kids muffined out? How about waffles, power balls, or some bars? Vary it up for the best results.
I do my shopping on Friday or Saturday each week. Years ago, I found myself at the grocery store multiple times throughout the week. It made me nutty! Now I go just once a week, and by the time it’s time to go again, the fridge is bare and looking lonely. This secretly makes me happy, in a weird way. I know that we’ve done our part in finishing up and not wasting food.
And now for the good stuff…Prep Day!
Back to my Sunday mornings. Every Sunday I wash, peel, and cut carrots so that we have carrot sticks throughout the week. I do the same with celery and maybe cucumbers or peppers. I can’t tell you how valuable it is on busy school nights to just open the fridge and have snacks and lunch options available to simply grab and go. Move over pretzels made with white flour – we’ve got a better option than you! I seriously find that my kids are more apt to grab a bag of veggies to snack on vs. grabbing a cutting board and vegetable when hungry. It doesn’t take rocket science, right? A little leg work up front has loads of benefits.
I’ve broken down my Sunday work for you:
- Peel and cut carrots
- Wash and cut celery
- Cut cucumber or bell peppers (or both)
- Chop vegetables to roast during the week
- Wash and chop lettuce
- Cut (in-season) fruit for breakfasts and lunches
- Wash all apples/pears/etc. so that they are ready for little hands to grab and eat
- Freeze bananas for use in smoothies or banana ice cream (a fun treat)
- Make bacon for the week (great for salads, sandwiches, or by itself!)
- Bake one or two items for the week – muffins, granola bars, etc.
- Make a batch of granola
- Hard boil eggs
- Make marinade for chicken or other meat (when applicable)
- Cut chicken if necessary
- Mix up a salad dressing (when applicable)
- Make Monday’s meal so that Monday is ready to go
Keep in mind that this is not always the same. Yes, my veggies stay pretty consistent, but the actual food prep part will change according to what I have on the menu for the week. Also, keep in mind that different systems work for different people. Perhaps you work weekends and need to alter days. Or perhaps you don’t have kids and don’t need the quantity that I do. Regardless, a little work ahead of time is definitely worth the effort in my opinion.
I’d love to hear how you save yourself some time with food prep!
92 thoughts on “How to do Food Prep for the Week”
This information is WONDERFUL! I make lunch for my granddaughter and she is allergic to almost everything. The YumBox is a godsend. She is excited everyday to see what is in there, but I was running out of ideas, until now. THANKS SO MUCH!!!!!!
I’m trying to do more meal planning and prepping
Great tips, very simple to follow.
How do you store the beg you have prepped so that on Friday its still ok to use? Same with cucumber and carrots. Dont they dry out?
Hi there. These are Kiran’s comments from a previous page:
“Definitely use water. In all honesty, my veggies mostly last up to 4 days and then I “may need to cut another small bag of carrots – or even resort to the baby ones if time is an issue. But water will help out, for sure.
If you look at the pic above – you can see water around the celery. I’d fill it close to the top with water. Then for something like carrots, I put them in the giant Ziplock and submerge them in water, too. HTH!”
A friend of mine told me that the specials for the week at the grocery store are from Friday to Thursday. Since we get the flyer for the following week on Wednesday, he shops Thursday (for last week’s specials) and Friday (for the coming week’s specials) Smart!
I plan menus for the whole week: breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. The menu is on the fridge all week. Since we are not big eaters and get full pretty easily, each meal has a main focus: grains are eaten for breakfast, protein at lunch, fruit for snack, vegetables for dinner. We have adopted Mark Bitman’s VA6 (vegan after 6)
The pantry has jars of nuts, seeds and dried fruits that are easily accessible to accompany snacks.
Sometimes I will prep, marinate and freeze enough meat for the whole month! I use empty individual milk bags (food grade plastic) as freezer bags: they are very sturdy and work well with a cheap electric sealer (I paid mine $6.99 at Value Village)
To make Sundays more fun, a glass of red wine, and my favorite radio show! At times, I get help in the kitchen since it is important for me to pass along cooking skills. My efforts have paid off since my son can pick a recipe from a book or the internet, line up all the ingredients on the counter and cook!
We are rarely out of an ingredient: I have 4 spice racks: Indian spices, Herbs, Baking spices, and Miscelleneous (dry mustard, onion powder, etc.) Need peanut oil? Got it. Need red curry paste? Got it. Worcesshire… whorschshire… that sauce? Got it.
My time savers: a rice cooker and a crock pot.
Wow – good for you! Some great tips and techniques … you have a great system in place! :)
My philosophy is that, just like a painter cannot paint without paint brushes and paint, a cook cannot cook without proper cookware and ingredients.
Since I am older, I have had 30 years of adult life to collect kitchen tools that I use regularly! The garlic press I prefer, spatulas, muffin tins, wok, blender, hand-mixer, mixing bowls, mandoline, grater, etc. If it doesn’t work well, out it goes!
No obstacles to cooking!
I have donated kitchen items which I never used, that were part of a ‘fantasy of me’: a juicer, a pasta maker, angel cake pan, any preserve equipment. It is just not me. I don’t bake, I’m not a fan of dough and starches put me to sleep.