Cooking ahead for the week seems daunting when you first decide to do it. I know so many people who never meal prep because they don’t know how to begin. It seems like such a big undertaking, even the idea sends people back to bed, curled in a fetal position. I understand. Big undertakings do that to me too.
So how do you make it seem less big? I’ll post a lot about this subject on this site. But just like any task, the key is breaking it down into smaller steps – in this case, four.
Focusing on these smaller tasks makes rocking a meal prep routine totally doable:
- Planning – You gotta know what you’re going to make. Write out what you want to eat and when you’ll eat it. I normally do the same breakfast, the same lunch, and two or three different dinners. Write out breakfast, lunch and dinner in your planner (whatever it might be) and fill in the holes. Here’s an article to help get the menu-planning juices flowing.
- Shopping – You gotta buy what you’re going to make. Generate a shopping list from the menu you made. For some people, grocery shopping is their least favorite part! The best way to get over this is to go at the same time every week. That way it’s just something you do, as opposed to something you have to psyche up for. Build the habit, do the work.
- Cooking – You gotta make what you’re going to make. You’re halfway there! Look at your menu, make a to-do list, and start checking off boxes. The most important way to build the Cooking Step habit is to keep this chunk of time sacred. Like grocery shopping at the same time, cooking at same time each week establishes your commitment and your boundaries. Everyone who knows me knows Sunday mornings are off limits. I don’t have to summon motivation every week because it’s just what I do now.
- Eating – You gotta eat what you’re going to make. Now to reap the rewards of the previous steps! People worry they won’t actually eat the food they prepared on their Cooking Day. I think this paranoia stems from previous experience wasting food. Rest assured that the meal prep process is different. You’ve already got a menu planned out. You’ve already invested the time and money. And you’ve made the food so crazy-easy to put together that it’s quicker than unhealthy take-out. Steps 1-3 make Step 4 easier. And if you have a pizza break somewhere in there, just enjoy it and don’t stress. I don’t.
Part 2 of this series will be out next week and deals with how to streamline each step. In the meantime, check out this article about what you need to before starting your make-ahead routine.