Meal prep: how to organize the meals of the week
Meal prep: how to organize the meals of the week
The art of meal prep, the organization of the meals of the week, requires commitment: we advise you how to do it with some useful tips.
Organizing yourself in the kitchen is anything but secondary, especially when it comes to relieving the week – already full of commitments and unforeseen events – from a daily task : meal prep .organizing meals for the week in advance allows you to eat healthierTo avoid feeding ourselves randomly, perhaps with yet another last-minute snack, or even worse, skipping lunch or dinner due to lack of time, we need to plan ahead , and do it strategically. Take your time every Saturday and briefly establish what you would like to eat during the week. Jot down a list of lunches and dinners by keeping weekend days free and any dinners out or dinner invitations. Make a list of everything you will need to assemble your dishes and carry on with the basic preparations – such as sauces and condiments – and the more elaborate and better preservable recipes. Well: let’s get started!
- The weekly menu . Start with the main meals, i.e. lunches and dinners, and try to balance the categories of nutrients as much as possible by splitting carbohydrates and proteins, and by consuming fruit and vegetables at least five times a day. Plan in detail what you will eat by giving specific names to the dishes to be cooked and do not forget the scope of the side dishes : the preparation of the vegetables is the one on which you can anticipate more easily. Don’t forget the snacksmid-morning and afternoon, studying an alternation as varied as possible between yogurt, dried and fresh fruit: in this case, in order not to be too rigid and to satisfy the cravings of the moment, you can make a general list of all the snacks of the week and then combine them from time to time.
The same goes for breakfasts : plan three or four variants to alternate during the week and make a list of all the ingredients you will need (yogurt, milk, cereals, biscuits, rusks, avocado, fruit).
- Conscious shopping Once the menus have been established, prepare a list by dividing the foods you will need by categories (cheeses, baked goods, meat, vegetables, fruit, etc.) in order to keep an eye on any imbalances. Aside, write down the ingredients that you will have to buy back during the week, such as bread, milk and fish. And now set a day to go shopping: prefer Saturdays so that you have more time to dedicate yourself to preparing meals throughout the weekend.
- How to divide the portions . Do you have a kitchen filled with pots of vegetables, pans of flans, bowls of cereals and you don’t know where to start to manage the weekly portions? First of all, equip yourself with containers of different sizes in which to distribute the various foods. Always keep an eye on the menu and start making the portions you will need, putting those you will consume later in the freezer and leaving the most forthcoming ones in the fridge. Above each container, then, write the type of food and the quantity on a label so that you will only have to take out what you will need without checking what it is inside.
What to cook in advance
Vegetables : raw, cooked, baked or as a filling for flans and pies: for each of these alternatives you can benefit in a different way. As for cooked vegetables, divide them according to the type of cooking (grilled, in the oven or in a pan): start with those that will require more time and use the stove and oven at the same time to speed up this phase. For example, you can focus on preparing baked potatoes , squash and broccoli while steaming spinach, carrots and courgettes. Or, dedicate yourself to preparing the dough for rustic pies or egg and cheese flans while the vegetables are cooking.
Cereals : unless you have days in which you will be able to go home to prepare a nice plate of pasta, the advice is to prefer cereals such as barley, spelled, rice, millet, cous cous and quinoa . In this way you can anticipate all the carbohydrate-based components that will make up your menus. Once cooked and cooled, season them with a drizzle of raw oil so that they do not dry out too much and keep them in the refrigerator until ready for use. You can accompany them with seasonal vegetables, combine them with salads or create unique dishes by combining them with a protein source, such as legumes, fish and meat.
Meat and fish : let’s start with meat and its derivatives. If you buy cured meats, including bresaola or turkey, just keep them in the refrigerator for a few days. As for cooked main courses – such as meatballs, slices or stews – you can prepare them up to three days in advance or, alternatively, freeze them. Different speech for fish: in this case the organization margins are limited, therefore, it will be better for you to buy it a day before or the same day you decide to cook it. However, you can make your life easier by providing canned tuna or smoked salmon once or twice between meals , which will keep longer.
Legumes : excellent alternative to proteins of animal origin, legumes should be introduced at least 2-3 times a week. Given the long soaking and cooking times, it can be somewhat difficult to cook them during the work week. If you do not choose the canned ones, cook them in advance and keep them in the refrigerator in their cooking water until ready for use. Otherwise, you can use them as a dressing for sandwiches, pasta dishes or salads: in this case, blend them, make hummus or creams and store them in hermetically sealed glass jars.
Eggs and cheeses : eggs are practical and quick to cook, so preparing them on the spot won’t be that difficult. If you prefer, however, you can cook two or three sodas so that you have them available for salads or last-minute sandwiches. As for cheeses, buy some Parmesan – even in convenient packs in separate snacks – and use it for protein snacks and practical to always carry with you. Pay attention to ricotta and fresh cheeses: in the case of mozzarella, cook it immediately for flans or timbales in order to extend the storage time.
Bread : the bread chapter deserves a separate discussion. If you are a supporter of the daily fresh bread team , there is little to do and you will have to find a way to buy it daily. Otherwise, get organized: buy a quantity that covers your weekly needs, portion it in food bags and freeze it. In this way, you just need to take it out of the freezer just before consuming it and defrost it a few minutes in the microwave.
Sauces and condiments : here you can play ahead across the board. Whether it’s a pesto , a ragù , a vegetable sauce or a béchamel , all you have to do is prepare them, put them in airtight glass jars and store them in the refrigerator or freezer. The first courses of the week and more will be guaranteed: prepare a little more so as to season lasagna or pasta flans to freeze and take out if necessary.