I’ve never been the “meal prep” type. First of all- it always sounded way too bro-ish. I couldn’t use the phrase without thinking of black plastic containers filled with broccoli, brown rice, and grilled chicken. Which is all delicious and fine in it’s own right, but it didn’t feel like it was an intuitive, organic, or very fun way to cook. Plus- who can eat the same thing every day? I like to improv with what I have in the refrigerator or even make something I saw while scrolling through Instagram earlier in the day. I get why eating that way works for many of us. But I’m an artful kitchen witch- I refuse to be contained.
Okay, okay. If I’m being fair, there are some pretty good reasons for prepping food ahead of time:
- Saves Money- If you have food easily and readily available, you’re less likely to order out. The end.
- Instills Healthy Eating- Don’t ask me why, but we’re more likely to eat foods that are already prepped. Taking the time to wash, peel, and slice up our vegetables and fruit as soon as we get home from the market somehow makes us actually eat them. Weird. Plus, if we’re eating our food, we’re not letting is spoil and throwing it away. This reduces food waste and again, saves money.
- ULTIMATE TIME SAVER! Sure, you cooked for two or three hours on your day off, but that means you have that much less to do during the week. A reheat is much quicker than starting from scratch by FAR. And if you choose to roast, it’s so hands off you can watch the Golden Girls marathon until the timer dings.
If you’re not convinced, well fine. But at least think about trying some some of my favorite make ahead foods.
ROAST POTATOES AND VEGETABLES:
To me, roasting vegetables is the best way to enjoy them. Yes, you could chop up the carrots and celery and store them in little tupperware for easy munching snacks. But wouldn’t you rather have a crispy, slightly charred carrot or potato? Yes. You would.
Whether you prefer brown or white, short grain or jasmine, rice is a great make ahead item. You can easily pack it in a lunch with the aforementioned steamed broccoli and chicken, heat it up in a bowl with a pat of butter and italian seasonings, or add it to a warm broth in a pan and make a faux-risotto… Risot-faux? Ris-faux-to… There is something there, I can feel it. Regardless of the name, made-ahead rice is a non-negotiable.
Why would you ever buy your own granola when you can make it as sweet or as savory as your desire for a fraction of the cost? It is a great energy packed snack that you can eat alone, with fresh fruit, atop yogurt, a smoothie bowl, you get the idea! Recipes are quick and generally fool-proof. The key to great granola is not letting it sit on the cookie sheet for too long after it cools, otherwise it becomes soft and not crispy crunchy. Add any seeds and crushed nuts you like; sweeten with honey, agave, or maple syrup. It’s completely customizable and absolutely delicious.
I hope you enjoy these ideas for make ahead meals and food. They absolutely save time during the week and keep me eating the foods that I enjoy and love.