By Emma Lehman
I fancy myself on being a master meal prepper. Yes, it took a little time to get in my groove, but once I did, I haven’t looked back. The main lesson I’ve learned is to stick to the basics, always. If you get too fancy with your week’s worth of meal prep, you’ll waste your time, and even worse, your food.
The trick is to count out how many meals you’ll need for the week—most likely the work-week since we all know weekends can be a little more unpredictable. If you go into an office, how many days that week are you hoping to bring your lunch? Any team lunches planned? Any Sweetgreen cravings that you know you need to satisfy? If so, keep that meal off your list and move on. Same goes for breakfast and dinner. Oh and snacks, duh.
Once you’ve finalized your count, it’s time to get shopping. I typically try to do this on Sundays, but if you have a boozy brunch planned or a weekend getaway to tend to, it’s fine—pick a different day. As you’re shopping, go for foods that can be easily dispersed across several meals, and that don’t take that much time to prep—that’s key. For example, rolled oats for overnight oats (no cooking involved), easy veggies for salads like cherry tomatoes, pre-shredded carrots, baby spinach, and pre-snapped edamame (no chopping needed), and snacks you can bite into whole (like apples and almonds).
And of course, keep in mind that leftovers are your friend. If you found a must-try recipe for dinner, make enough servings so you can bring some for lunch the next day or dig into the following night.
Once you’re home, the real fun begins. Put on some music or your favorite podcast and get busy in the kitchen. Lay out your week’s worth of mason jars or tupperwares and get stuffing. Think of this as your “me time” to gear up for the week and give yourself a fist bump for the daily $12+ you’ll save by bringing your favorite eats vs. spending on a mediocre salad.
The more you do this, the faster you’ll get. I can have my week’s worth of meals prepped in well under an hour while still having time to focus on the important Sunday things, like Netflix.
With that, here is my go-to overnight oats recipe that I never get sick of. I make a week’s worth all in one swoop for grab-and-go goodness all week long.
Peanut butter overnight oats
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup almond milk
1 tbsp granola butter (or nut butter)
1 tbsp chia seed
1 tbsp coconut flakes
Handful of berries
Mash banana in mason jar. Add all other ingredients except berries. Stir, stir, stir. Top with berries. Place in fridge and devour all week.
Emma Lehman is a lover of all things health and wellness, especially when it involves food. You can find her commuting everywhere by foot, running the hills of San Francisco, roasting brussels sprouts in her oven, and blending smoothies in her Vitamix. You can connect with her on Instagram at @howsthatapple.