Updated: Mar 2
Imagine this: you've seen me talk about food prep, and decided to give it a go. Your hair is a mess, there are streaks of soup on your face and your top/apron looks like a bag of skittles did a dance there.
But in front of you, in the midst of your messy kitchen you have an array of pots, pans, bowls and tubs full of pre-cooked stuff.
First of all I'd like to applaud you for all your hard work! If this is the first time you've done food prep, trust me when I say things will get easier! You should be so proud of yourself for taking this step! Here's the next question: what to do now with all that food? There are a couple of approaches you can take, I always go for the first, simply because my husband and I live on different schedules and this ways we can just grab food when we need to. Whether or not you are the only person to eat from this bounty of food, or if your whole family is on on it, there are a couple of things to know.
Well, actually it's the second step, since the first step was cooking the food.
There are a couple of things to consider first before even deciding what you'll do with your food, or when you'll eat it.
When will this food spoil? Some foods simply have a longer shelf life that others (think dressed salads, fresh fish and boiled rice) Make sure to eat the most delicate foods at the beginning of your week.
Plan plan plan. I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but when you know in advance if you have a busy week with lots of meals out, you can plan to either cook less, or freeze some meals for the future. Less food waste is good for your pocket and the planet!
What are you going to freeze? I love a good soup, but no one likes to eat the same every single day. So I always cook a big batch, before freezing some portions for later.
Are your dishes Dinky's or Transformers? With this I mean: is that tomato-vegetable filled sauce going to stay as it is, or will you have it as a veggie pasta dish one day, and jazz it up with cooked mince, red kidney beans and spices and have it as chilli con carne the next? There are so many ways to cook a dish once, and change it to something else. Have a look at the quick guide below.
Now that you have these decisions made, how will you pack everything away? Yes, you can choose different methods. What works for me might not work for you, so feel free to give both a go!
Method 1: Big tubs, grab when needed.
As I mentioned, this approach works well because we are not on a calorie restricted diet and we have various days of training, working away from home etc. So when for example my husband goes to work in the office, he simply grabs some elements from the fridge the night before and puts it in a tub to take with him.
You can eat what you feel like on the day
Great for variety, mix and match
Different portion sizes are not a problem here
Less space needed in the fridge
You'll still have to 'pack' your lunch the night before (but it only takes 2 minutes)
No easy portion control if you are on a calorie restricted diet (which is not something we do, so no issue really)
Here's how you go about it: When you're done with cooking and everything is cooled down, put all individual foods in large (ideally see through) tubs. Store in the fridge. Done. It really is that simple.
Method 2: Pre-packed individual meals.
This approach works really well if you have a very set or strict routine. If you are extremely busy and want to take all the guesswork out of your week, this might be for you. Some people believe that, the less decisions they have to make during the week, the better they can focus on their work.
Easier for portion control
Less decision fatigue
Less time spent portioning/packing the night before
Gives you clear headspace because you know exactly what you're going to eat this week
No room for flexibility
Possibly more food waste (taking impromptu lunches away/dinners in account)
Takes up more space in the fridge
How to go about it: After all your food is cooled down, lay out the amount of tubs you need (5 if you take 5 lunches to work, 5 or 7 dinners etc). Divide all your food in the dishes (protein, carbs and fat) Cover the lids and store in the fridge until use.