I have a confession – I don’t like bulk meal prepping. You know, where you take 4ish hours and prep most of your meals for the week all at once? I have done it, but it always left me grumpy. The only day of the week I had that kind of chunk of time was the weekend, and giving up a half-day on the weekend just frustrated me. I’d rather spend my weekends making memories with my weekend or relaxing/recharging for the week to come.
Some other reasons we don’t meal prep:
BUT, from being a Whole30 Coach who has coached over 1,000 clients, I can hands-down tell you that having healthy food options prepped and ready to grab is game-changing. It’s SO MUCH easier to stay committed to your healthy nutrition goals (whatever that looks like) when the food is already prepped.
So…where’s the balance?
Make Something Extra
I realized I didn’t have to have all my meals cooked and ready on Sunday for the week, I just had to always have options available. So, instead I started Making Something Extra – meaning, every time I am already in the kitchen (usually for dinner, as I make dinner on most days of the week) I make something extra. The idea is to break down the sometimes overwhelming job of meal prepping for the week into bite-sized chunks throughout the week instead of that big weekend marathon.
I ask myself two questions:
- What do I have on hand an need to use up? This helps prevent food waste as well as is budget-friendly as the average person throws away $50 a month in food waste!
- What do I need more of? This doesn’t have to be a whole meal – maybe you need to pull together a great sauce, or some roasted veggies, or grill some meat. Do you have anything for breakfast the next day? If no, pull together a breakfast dish that you can reheat and eat for the next few days for breakfast. I love ones like my Plaintain Taco Hash (egg-free!) or Sweet Potato Toasts.
Meal prepping in these increments also allow for a little more flexbility of what you are in the mood for, as you are doing it several times throughout the week, instead of 7 days in advance.
No extra time in the kitchen
With this method, I just make an additional item or dish every time I’m in the kitchen. You’re already cooking, so instead of scrolling your phone while something simmers, make another food you need to stay on top of meal prep. Most people in my IG stories said they cook 6-11 times per week. That’s 6-11 EXTRA sides, sauces, or entrees that could be prepped for the week with minimal extra time spent in the kitchen.
You’re going to double batch that…right?
If it’s a recipe you know you love, why would you not double it? Doubling a dish is a very easy way to make something extra. You might think, but Autumn, I will get sick of eating this every day for the next week. No no friend, time to embrace the freezer! My mom froze eeeerything. Pretty much most cooked items can freeze. So double batch, eat it for a few days and when you are no longer enjoying it, put the rest in the freezer (labeling with date/item). In 3-4 weeks you will be so grateful on a busy night to be able to pull out and reheat that! Your future self will thank you.
Don’t like the taste of leftovers?
That for me is one of the biggest reasons I love my airfryer. Roasted veggies get soggy in the fridge, but they can easily “re-crispify” in the airfryer. Airfryers can also reheat meat without drying it out, as the oil circulates in the air. You can read more in my Airfryer 101.
MAKE SOMETHING EXTRA – It’s an approachable, bite-sized way to stay ahead of the meal prep game without spending a ton of extra time in the kitchen. It’s been THE way our family keeps food available, with time to still adventure and rest on the weekend. Give it a try!