The other week I went grocery shopping on a Friday morning, determined to make a plan for weekend eating (I’m living that #freelancelifestyle, so I have some more weekday flexibility now). As I popped some base ingredients/meals into the oven, just to have on hand to avoid a Saturday night takeout order, I was hit the realization: why don’t I do this for every weekend?
Meal prep is all the rage, and most people do a few hours of batch working on Sunday — prepping nutritious snacks, loading different sized tupperware with portioned-out meals for the week ahead. It saves money, you can make healthier choices, and it saves you time when you’re tired from work during the week. Which is all well and good, but why don’t we do this for the weekends as well? It’s a lot faster, because you only have to prep for two days instead of five, and though you may eat out more on the weekends or treat it as your “time off” from doing tasks that involve labor of some sort, you don’t want to counteract all your great work from the week by going off the wagon over the weekend.
I’m also not talking about all of the detailed, portioned meal prep of the week. Just a few simple tasks that can work for multiple meals — and that can mostly be left on their own to cook — that will give you more to reach for than just your wallet and the telephone.
1. Make a Quiche: This may be a very specific tip, but stick with me here: it’s the perfect thing to have in your fridge over your favorite two days. First, it’s easy to prepare. All you have to do whisk eggs and milk, and maybe chop some veggies. Make it even easier with a frozen deep dish pie crust, which will prevent you from having to bake the crust before you add the filling. Second, it is extremely versatile — there are very few dishes can can literally be eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, and quiche is one of them. This is the recipe I usually go by (except, like I said, I use that frozen pie crust to save time).
2. Roast Veggies: You can have these in the oven as the same time as your quiche — that’s what I did! You can also cut prep time in half by buying pre-sliced veggies (depending on what it is, this can either save you money or make you spend a little more. At my grocery story, the sliced peppers are cheaper than buying the whole. It might not be the same for others, but time is money, right?). Since quiches usually bake around 350°, these will slow-roast, but just keep stirring them around from time to time and take out when they look soft/slightly charred. I’ve done onions and peppers, garlic and tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, sweet potato, squash, etc. Brainstorm what veggies can go with the most amount of meals (see the last tip for specific ideas).
3. Cook Meat: While all that’s in the oven, cook two chicken breasts (this is my favorite way). Again, these all are very not hands-on ideas — go do whatever else you want to do while all this stuff is cooking away. When it’s done, either slice or shred it, and container it up. If you prefer, add a few other spices beside salt and pepper (sometimes I’ll add garlic and onion powder, or chili powder and cumin). You can also just cheat and break down a rotisserie chicken, I’m not judging. Or if you prefer, sauté some Italian sausage or ground turkey. If you’re a vegetarian, skip this step! Or maybe marinate some tofu?
4. Buy a Few Versatile Grains: If you already have these in your pantry, good for you — you’re done with this step! If not, pick up a box of short, whole-grain pasta, some corn tortillas, and maybe quinoa or brown rice. Now you’re done too! Unlike weekday meal prep, weekend meal prep isn’t about having specifically planned meals for each day, but rather about having some go-to’s on hand, depending where the weekend takes you. Based on the prep I already listed, here are some meals you have ready to whip up: quiche (for breakfast, lunch or dinner) with roasted veggies on the side if you want to be healthier; veggie nachos (instead of buying chips you can even just tear up the tortillas and fry or bake them); breakfast tacos; pasta with roasted veggies, olive oil and garlic (broccoli, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, whichever you decided to roast!); quinoa or brown rice bowl with veggies and meat (throw a soft-boiled egg on top if you’re feeling fancy); loaded quesadillas; chicken and veggie rice casserole; chicken salad; roast vegetable salad; empty-the-fridge casserole, etc.
5. Freeze Fruits: Any leftover fruit you didn’t eat during the week, or any bananas browning on your counter, throw in the freezer. You can use them for quick smoothies or healthy ice creams or Popsicles.
All of these things can be done in literally an hour or less, so it doesn’t have to eat up your Friday too (no pun intended). You can get up a little early and let everything cook while you’re getting ready (just give it enough time to cool before you stock it in the fridge); or get into comfy clothes when you get home, pour a glass of wine, and let it cook while you order takeout just for that night. It is Friday after all, you deserve it!