After seeing my post, Meal Prep is the Key to Clean Eating Success, a friend asked for more details about HOW I do it (“it” being the process I follow to prep for a week’s worth of meals in a couple of hours). So I took some pictures of a recent meal prep session from Fresh Direct box to various stages of preparedness for eating or cooking during the week.
Here it is! My family loves grocery delivery day almost as much as Christmas morning! Seriously, my son runs around the house with cucumbers shouting “look everyone! we got cucumbers!!”
Next, as I unpack everything and begin to put away the pantry and refrigerated items, I wash all produce. I use a giant bowl in the sink where I triple wash just about everything and set it out on towels to dry on the counter top. While each item soaks and dries, I prepare a list of my prep needs. This list may include breakfast, snack, or lunch items for the week as well as various of stages of preparation for dinner items. For example, in this particular prep session, I prepped:
3. Apples (washed for snacked throughout the week + roasted and made into applesauce for my son’s snacks + in my pumpkin soup)
4. Rotisserie Chicken (taken off the bone to be used in a dinner recipe later in the weeks+ salads for lunches + the bones for broth).
5. Citrus (washed for snacking + infusing in water + in salads + in my roasted citrus vinaigrette (recipe from my favorite meal planning site No More To Go).
6. Other Greens (this particular week, I also prepped parsley, scallions, and asparagus which were all components of recipes that week + the end went into the broth)
Let’s get started!!!!
I had big plans for this broccoli, as the steamed florets became part of my mini omelets for my AM snack that week. The remaining florets went into a large ziploc baggie for use in a dinner recipe later in the week. The chunky thick ends went right into the broth to add a little extra nutrients and flavor.
Then, I cried….
Onions hold up really well once chopped and refrigerated so I usually will chop, dice, and slice the onions up so they are ready to go in whatever I have planned that week. The peels go right into the broth to add lots of flavor.
I also worked on prepping the greens so that I could throw then ends right in my giant pot so the broth could simmer the rest of the time I prepped and into the afternoon. I mentioned my asparagus tip in my broth post, but its really important and worth repeating. Always remove the woody ends of the asparagus. Its not the time to be cheap, either — snap the asparagus in half and where ever it breaks is the “right” place. It may feel wasteful to not use the end (or sometimes almost half of the stalk) but it ends up being nasty — chewy and woody. You’ll feel better about the “waste” if you use it in a broth. It adds asparagus nutrients and a nice soft taste to the broth but you don’t have to eat the woodiness.
Scallions, herbs, and celery stay really nicely for up to a week or possibly more when wrapped in paper towel and then placed in ziploc baggies. Asparagus is a little more temperamental, so I usually plan to use it within a day or two, place it in about 1/2 inch of water with a little saran wrap over the top.
Once I have the veggie ends I need for my broth, I start to remove the meat from the bones of the rotisserie chicken and get the broth working. Plus, it makes the kitchen smell awesome, like I’m really doing some cooking in there!
At some point during the session, all of the produce is washed and laid out looking all beautiful and colorful, like this:
An Apple a Day
We eat a ton of apples in my family. I tend to carry up to three apples around with me for snacking while out and about with the kids (one for each of us!), plus Tyler loves bringing an apple to school in his lunch. This week, my pumpkin soup recipe called for apple sauce, so I thought we’d shake things up by making a batch of it to use not only in my soup but for him to enjoy with his lunches.
It was really easy: (1) cut the apples in half and removed the cores; (2) roast at 350 degrees until they are soft when you insert a knife through the skin (about 30 minutes); (3) let them cool just enough so that you can handle them; (4) scoop our the delicious, soft apple and dispose of the skins; (5) add some cinnamon; (6) puree…. and you’re done! Roasting the apples makes them so sweet that I find that sugar isn’t necessary.
In a prior week, I roasted and pureed our leftover Halloween pumpkins. I froze the puree that I wasn’t able to use that week and thought this would be a fun week to pull it out and use to make pumpkin soup for lunches that week!
Next, I washed and prepped my citrus for a variety of purposes.
I drink a hot glass of water with lemon every morning, so I like to have my lemons washed, sliced and ready to go each morning. This particular week, I also made a really fabulous roasted citrus vinaigrette for my side salads. The recipe was from my favorite meal planning website, No More To Go. The recipes (and shopping list) are revealed once a week – 5 meals and one “bonus” (either a dessert, brunch or snack item for the weekend). The meals take about 30-45 minutes to prepare (more or less depending on how much prep I did in advance!), and are healthy and nutritious. This website has been the key to my success in staying organized since I’m ready for the week before I’ve even done my shopping!
Let me know if this post was helpful for cranking out a week’s worth of prep in a couple of hours. Happy to post a future prep session to give you some more ideas – or more details if helpful. Happy Prepping!!