Sundays are not about meal prepping. No day of the week should be. Thinking about the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that you’re going to have that week shouldn’t take multiple hours and shouldn’t lock down your weekly eating plan. But a loose guide can be helpful when you sleep in on a Wednesday because of the wine tasting that ran late on Tuesday and you’ve got to scramble together a container of sustenance before rushing out the door. A stocked fridge with a couple of ready-made options will make a hectic workweek that much easier. It all starts with thinking ahead, not about the whole week, but about the next couple of days. If you have time to prep on Sunday, just think about what you might need until Wednesday.
I have a smoothie every day of the work week because it’s the only food I can eat with no hands. If you can think of an easier meal to eat while putting on makeup, doing hair, and getting dressed, I’m open to your ideas. The smoothies I devise are not health-nut diet drinks. They are filling, delicious meals that I actually look forward to as I pant away on the elliptical each morning. (Scroll through here to find my favorite recipes). I put all of my smoothie ingredients- fruit, protein powder, nuts, seeds, etc.- in a ziplock bag and freeze them. In the morning, all I have to do is add my liquid of choice (usually almond milk or coconut water) and blend it up. It takes 2 minutes, I’ve timed it.
I don’t like to think of food in terms of protein, carb, etc., but I think it can help when you’re planning for the week. For lunch, I aim for 2 cups of veggies, 1/2 cup protein, 1/2 cup carbs, and 1 serving of fats (like half an avocado or 2 TB of hummus). I’ll also throw in a flavor-packed wild card like kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, capers, or pickles.
Once you figure out what ratio works for you and what keeps you full, you can just raid your refrigerator for those food groups and throw it all into a tupperware container (or a mason jar to fit in with the office millennial). Try arugula with roasted broccoli, leftover chicken, whole wheat penne, and hummus. Kale with shredded beets, marinated beans, quinoa, and roasted sunflower seeds. Spinach with roasted asparagus, flaked salmon, sweet potato and avocado. Get crazy. A packed lunch should be something you look forward to, not something you begrudgingly pull from the smelly office refrigerator and hide shamefully from your coworkers. It should be something that makes your boss both jealous and impressed.
Okay, so I rarely make it to this point. If you’re still here, you’ve already surpassed my expectations. On an ideal Sunday, I would wash and chop the veggies I need for dinners that week, take the meat out of the freezer, prepare salad dressing, and bake fresh bread. If you have time to plan three dinners in advance and do all of the prep work for them (dice onions and garlic, clean herbs, etc.), more power to you. I encourage you to strive for what I cannot achieve. Instead of prepping dinners in advance, I choose to cook weeknight-friendly meals that come together in about an hour without advance effort. I have a few family favorites, like this weeknight chicken, winning pasta, and easy, healing stir-fry.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?