How To Make Meal Prep Easier (Your “Dear Abby” Wellness Qs Answered)

Here’s a potentially embarrassing confession: I’d get a real kick out of writing for the Dear Abby column. I love sharing helpful advice and thoughtful opinions from the comfort of my own living room…just ask my husband!

However, considering that it’s been almost seven years since graduating with my journalism degree, and Jeanne Phillips — the current owner of the “Abby” pen name — hasn’t yet reached out to me on LinkedIn, I feel that the time has come to take matters into my own hands.

So we’ll be trying a little experiment for the next month or so…

Every Wednesday I’ll dedicate a post to one simple solution or strategy that will make it easier for you to squeeze more healthy habits into your every day life.

I’ll get the ball rolling, but I’d love for you to join in the discussion (see details at the end of this post).

My mission is to help women get back in the driver’s seat of their own health and happiness, by making healthy living simple AND enjoyable. This series should help.

Now on to today’s question…

What is one thing that I can do this weekend to make meal prep easier (if I only have one hour to spare)?

Even an hour spent in the kitchen on the weekend will ultimately save you time and money  — and make it easier to stick with your healthy eating habits. It’s a great way to get a head start on your weekday meals.

If there was only ONE thing that I could get done each weekend, it would be to cook and freeze my grains and starches. Preparing foods like rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes during the week is time-consuming, and it doesn’t make sense to do it on a meal-by-meal basis.

Instead, one Sunday a month my husband and I bulk cook these staples, and freeze them in portion sized freezer bags or tupperware containers. Come a random Tuesday evening I’m thrilled to thaw a bag of rice, bake a piece of fish, and cook some veggies with a dollop of butter. While dinner would have taken an hour if we were waiting on the grain, it comes together in 15 minutes (and there’s less washing up).

What can you cook and freeze?

Lots of things actually! We’ve had great success with the following, but I encourage you to experiment (note: these are listed in order of how long they take to cook): 

  • Beans (black, white, kidney, chickpeas…)
  • Lentils
  • Rice (basmati, white, brown and black)
  • Sweet potatoes (cubed and roasted)
  • Mashed potato or sweet potato
  • Butternut squash (cubed and roasted)
  • Quinoa
  • Pasta

 

TO COOK: Double or triple your regular quantity. Cook as normal. Allow to cool. Freeze in portions that are suitable for you and your family.

TO USE: Defrost in the fridge overnight, or use the microwave; heat in the oven, or use the microwave.

TIP: Start with the ingredient that takes the longest to cook — such as roasting sweet potatoes or boiling rice — and then move on to a quick-cook, like quinoa or pasta. That way everything should be done around the same time…roughly 45 minutes later.

Now I’d Love To Hear From You (Dear Abby…)

What are you struggling with in your health, fitness or self care / self love routine at the moment? What healthy habits do you see other people doing and you wonder — how do they do that? Nothing is too silly or too small!

Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll answer those Qs over the next couple of weeks.

Don’t like the idea of commenting publicly? Email info@jenniferdenewellness.com with the subject line: Q&A Post

 

Thank you for your energy, and making this community one that is positive, kind and purpose-driven.

 

With love,

4 Responses to How To Make Meal Prep Easier (Your “Dear Abby” Wellness Qs Answered)

  1. When cooking the pasta and freezing it do you just cook the pasta without adding
    anything to it and freeze it. Please can you explain.

    • Hi Barbara,

      Yep, I cook it plain in water (according to the packet instructions), then cool and freeze in portion sized bags. I find that short pastas work best, such as spiral or small tubes, as spaghetti can get a little tangled. We use this in a couple of ways:
      1. I’ll defrost a homemade bolognese or other pasta sauce from our freezer, and heat them both together
      2. We might turn it into a pasta salad with leftover veggies from the night before
      3. I’ll toss it with tinned tuna or salmon, arugula and olives for a quick meal.
      You can also freeze prepared pasta dishes (as in the pasta and the sauce, or something like lasagne), but they just take a little longer. I hope that helps!

  2. This is a really great tip!!! I plan to give it a try! Thank you for the detailed directions and accompanying meal ideas!!!!

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