The Sunday scaries can feel a whole lot scarier when you’ve got a whole week’s worth of meals to plan and cooking just isn’t your thing. If you’re easily overwhelmed in the kitchen, avoiding meal prep at all costs might seem like the most logical solution. After all, why stress yourself out? However, meal prep is an invaluable way to save time and energy throughout the week. It ultimately makes your life easier, which is why you shouldn’t shy away from it even if you’re no chef.
If you’re the kind of person who just can’t be bothered in the kitchen, you’ve come to the right place. With these tips and tricks, even the laziest of chefs can prepare their meals ahead of time and start the week off strong without losing their mind. Keep reading for the ultimate lazy girl’s guide to meal prepping on a Sunday.
1. Check your schedule for the week
The first thing you should do is look at your schedule for the week so you can plan accordingly. On days when you have a lot going on, you’re going to want meals that are simple and sit well with you, as well as snacks that make you feel energized and at your best. For days when you have more downtime or will be at home, you can give yourself more wiggle room to intuitively eat. Whatever your week looks like, checking your schedule ahead of time will help you better plan your meals.
2. Rethink and simplify
Meal prep is all about simplifying. Think through the meals you typically like to eat and ask yourself how you can spend less time in the kitchen. If you’re a hummus lover, stock up on crackers and cut up some veggies for dipping throughout the week. If you’re a woman on the move, simplify your breakfasts with prepackaged foods like bagels, croissants, or yogurt. Having an assortment of pre-made snacks—like protein bars, cut fruit, chips and dip—to choose from can also be helpful. Meal prep doesn’t mean making everything from scratch—it just requires planning ahead so you can save time later.
3. Meal prep around your favorite foods
Another great way to simplify meal prep is to plan your meals around specific foods you love, which will help keep your dishes fun and fresh throughout the week. For example, if you’re a big fan of salmon, prep it ahead of time to use as the main ingredient in a variety of dishes. Maybe you use it for a salmon BLT with avocado for lunch one day, then enjoy it with rice and veggies for dinner another night. If you’re not sure what to build your meals around, pick one source of protein you love and use that as a starting place. Then, if you’re still stuck, search for different recipes using that ingredient to get inspired (Pinterest is great for this!).
4. Make a Sunday dinner with plenty of leftovers
Leftovers are a lazy girl’s BFF, so if you’re cooking Sunday dinner at home, make enough for at least another one or two meals. You can then sprinkle in these leftovers throughout the week if you don’t feel like cooking one night or get sick of your lunch. That said, if you often have trouble finishing leftovers or aren’t a huge fan of them in general, place the remainder in a freezer-safe zip-top bag or glass container and store in the freezer until you’re ready to eat.
5. Properly seal and store food
Sealing and storing food correctly is key to keeping it fresh and flavorful for longer. Take the time to read the labels on everything you buy—you’ll often find directions on how to store it properly after cooking or keep it fresh until you open it. For everything else, brush up on the best storage practices so you’re clear on how and where to store it. I’ve found that keeping things like avocados, onions, garlic, and even baked goods in the fridge helps preserve and keep them fresher for longer, and airtight glass containers work best for leftovers or opened food (think: bread, bagels, etc.).
6. Slow-cook leftovers instead of microwaving
The microwave is convenient in a pinch, but it can easily dry out leftovers and remove their flavor. So instead of zapping your leftovers in the microwave, reheat them in a pan on the stove or in a slow cooker. For both of these methods, keep the heat at a low-medium temperature and stir frequently to prevent any burning on the bottom. And for leftovers with rice or pasta, try adding a drop of butter or margarine into the mix to loosen everything up.
7. Whip up a big salad
Salads are delicious, but the washing, drying, and chopping up of everything is extremely time-consuming. To make your life easier, prep a big bowl of greens that will last you two or three days and keep it in a big, glass container in your fridge. Store the dressing and toppings separately to prevent the lettuce from wilting and keep the salad crunchy and fresh. Having a ready-to-eat salad on hand will save you time and give you more versatility throughout the week—you can have it for lunch one day, as a snack on another, and so on.
8. Switch up your flavors
Regularly switching up your meals will help you avoid getting burnt out on certain foods and keep things exciting. This might mean using a different cooking method, replacing ingredients, or swapping out sauces. Keep plenty of herbs and spices on hand, along with foods that can be used in a variety of ways (think eggs, rice, frozen veggies, canned beans). Likewise, seasoning your food differently when you’re eating it—like adding black pepper, crushed red pepper, or even hot sauce—can keep your meals interesting.