Meal prep has become an essential part of our week, and such a good habit I encourage you to get into. We cook most nights; one because we love to cook; two because it’s healthier; three because it’s more economical. And because we both work from home, that means breakfasts and lunches are also at home and we need to have ingredients on hand for fast meals.
I used to love going grocery shopping, but since COVID we started ordering groceries for delivery and I’m never turning back. What used to take 2 to 3 hours out of my weekend has been consolidated into max 10 minutes of shopping from my phone.
In order to not stress over what we’re going to eat, we’ve gotten into a good efficient routine: Sunday we decide what 3 to 4 dishes we want to cook for dinner for the week, and add any specialty ingredients to make them into our Amazon Fresh cart. Then we navigate to the previous week’s order and put all items back into our cart, review what we still have “in-stock” and remove what we need to.
We start every Monday with a grocery delivery from Amazon Fresh and Costco so we are set for the week and don’t need to make any last minute, crowded, long-line grocery store runs, or unhealthy expensive take-out that inevitably take more time to order and receive than if we had just cooked (we are guaranteed to have analysis paralysis trying to order in the moment).
5 Tips to Make Meal Prep Easier
1. Shortcut recipes that require chicken with rotisserie chickens from Costco/Whole Foods.
2. Get the kids involved: place a bunch of recipes on notecards (here is some inspiration) including the recipe name, ingredients and online source (not actual directions), and every Sunday pick 3 to 4 out. If your kids are old enough, you can even have them make an art project out of this with XL notecards.
3. Schedule time to meal prep. On Monday evenings after the kids go to bed, clean, chop, roast anything you can to get ahead of the week for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. If you WFH, take 20 minutes during lunch to prep for that night’s dinner. You’ll thank your 6 PM self later.
4. Bowls are life. Batch roast a ton of vegetables and some sort of protein (chicken or fish) with simple flavors (salt, pepper, garlic, lemon). Then night of, reheat them, put them on top of some sort of grain, sprinkle on nuts or seeds and prep a super flavorful sauce (lemon tahini, sticky ginger soy, avocado goddess, BBQ, thai red curry).
5. Always keep these stocked: spices (salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, oregano, chili), everything bagel seasoning, good olive oil, olive oil spray, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, fresh minced garlic, dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, honey, maple syrup, soy sauce, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, chicken bone broth, quinoa (love the Seeds of Change microwaveable options) or red rice, long grain white rice, peanut butter, almond butter, seeds (chia, sesame, hemp, sunflower), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts), Soda Stream.
My Grocery List
We purchase groceries weekly for 3 adults (Jason, myself and our au pair), 1 toddler and 1 baby.
- Apples or pears
- Lemons (my parents have an incredible Meyer lemon tree that produces all year round so we never have to buy these)
- Cocktail Cucumbers
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Kale (lacinato or Tuscan)
- Romaine Hearts or Arugula
- Mini peppers
- Grape tomatoes
- Cauliflower or Broccoli or Green Beans or Brussels Sprouts
Dairy, Meat & Eggs
- Pasture raised eggs (we only buy pasture raised – google “pasture raised vs. cage free” and you’ll see why)
- Whole milk (for Caden)
- Unsweetened Almond milk
- Icelandic Yogurt (I prefer Icelandic Provisions over Siggis)
- Stonyfield Organic Yogurt pouches
- Sargento Cheese Ultra Thin Slices
- Cheese Snack Sticks or Babybel (no string cheese)
- Gruyere Cheese (fun fact: no lactose)
- Pecorino Cheese (also no lactose)
- Rotisserie Chicken
- Chicken Breast or Fish (salmon, sea bass or tuna)
- Ground Turkey
- Turkey Deli Meat
- English muffins (we go through so many of these)
- Flour tortillas
- Garbanzo beans
- Annie’s macaroni and cheese
- Pasta (Mezzi Rigatoni, Ziti, Mini Farfalle, Celentani, Rotini, Orecchiette)
- Applesauce pouches
- Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars
- Teddy Grahams
- Mini sandwich peanut butter crackers
Any items you always include in your grocery list or meal prep tips? I’d love to hear them! Please leave a comment!