The Art (and Fun!) of Sunday Food Prep
These days I work from home and can throw together a hot meal for lunch on the fly, but back in the day I had a good old 9-5 but still wanted to make sure I brought healthy, whole foods from home every day.
My solution? The Sunday Cook-Up.
I’d throw all of my cooking energy for the week into one session on Sunday afternoons, and by the time I was done, I’d have food for lunch every day, plus some starter items for dinner.
Here are my top tips for how to get started doing the same thing. (Just try it! You might like it!)
- Make it fun. I know not everyone likes to cook or spend time in the kitchen. In order to get yourself there, make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Try listening to music, putting the TV on in the background, or turning on a favorite podcast. If you have friends who are interested in doing their own Sunday Cook Up, invite them over to split the work and the results (and crack jokes along the way).
- Plan ahead so you know what to make. You can definitely wing your food prep operation if you’re experienced in the kitchen and know you’ll find a use for those 10 pounds of winter vegetables you just roasted, but for the rest of us, having a meal plan to work from can be helpful. Try to plan meals that can use the same foods in more than one way (like making a batch of whole wheat biscuits that can be eaten with stew one night and on the side of a crustless quiche the next).
- Lay it all out. Figure out exactly what foods you’re going to prep and the order in which you’re going to do it. For instance, if you’re baking that aforementioned crustless quiche, it makes sense to prepare that first, then work on other items (like chopping up snacking veggies for the week) while it cooks. If an item has any hands-off time (brown rice simmering on the stove top or something baking), make sure to start them earlier so that you’re not waiting around for them to finish.
- Cook the right foods. If you spend your Sunday roasting a chicken and forming and freezing hamburger patties, and that’s it, you’re still going to be hard up to pull together a quick meal. Instead, make sure you prepare a variety of foods from across the spectrum. Roast some sweet potatoes, cook a batch of quinoa or rice, make and freeze some turkey or bean burgers, and pre-chop veggies to be eaten raw or to be roasted later.
- Store foods the right way. Some items may need to go in the freezer to stay as fresh as possible, while some may be okay in the fridge. And did you know that if you chop up veggies, like carrots or celery, putting them in water in the fridge will keep them fresh for longer? (I learned that one year when I worked in the kitchen at a summer music camp.) Another thing to remember? We humans are lazy, and will eat what’s easiest, so put those washed and chopped fruits and vegetables in clear, easy to see containers!
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