HS: Meal Prep for the Upcoming Week

Meal Prep for the Upcoming Week // shutterbean

HELLO!  See that HS in the title? It stands for High Straightenance.  Some of you already know that I wrote a bi-monthly organizing column on Homefries called High Straightenance.  It’s like the term High Maintenance but for people who like straightening things up (me!!). Writing that column was a way for me to channel my inner organizer/crazy brain and now I’m bringing it to Shutterbean.

I posted a picture a few weeks ago on my Instagram (see below) of my meal prep for the week and had a lot of comments asking me to do a post about it. So, here we go. Here are some tips for you to get yourself organized for the upcoming week!

Meal Prep // shutterbean

First of all, I wish I could tell you that I meal plan, but really I don’t. I mean…I plan for recipes on the blog and that’s my main objective but I’m pretty loose on what we eat every. single. day.  There are a bunch of staples I have on hand and things I buy regularly (post about that sometime soon!) so that I can easily work ingredients into other things. I find meal planning to be confining and sometimes I don’t like being forced to have enchiladas on a Thursday when I really just want grilled cheese and tomato soup. I do know that I want access to salads, fruits & vegetables to snack on, a couple of meals with meat (Casey’s favorite meals), something carby one night, something Mexican, a few easy meals, eggs, and the option for yogurt & granola during the week. There’s always one day where I’m in the zone  where OMG! I CANNOT WASH ANOTHER DISH, WE’RE GETTING TAKEOUT. You get the picture.

One thing that really helps with my week is meal prep. I try to spend a couple hours on a Sunday cleaning out my fridge and making meals/parts of meals to help with the week ahead.  I find it super therapeutic to clean out the fridge. It’s the equivalent to cleaning out my purse in that it makes me feel like I have a fresh start. There’s something really stressful about opening up a disorganized fridge and really sets a bad tone for the rest of the day. Am I alone on this?

Meal prep is a way for me to problem solve and be creative. It’s kind of like how a restaurant offers specials for Brunch on the weekends and really all it means is that they are trying to creatively rid themselves of food because they have a food delivery coming up.  In this case, my grocery shopping day (Tuesday or Thursday) is right around the corner and I have to clean out the fridge to make way for new things.

Meal Prep for the Upcoming Week // shutterbean

1. I don’t like to waste food. Who does, really??

2. I like a challenge and I find some of the best combinations through scraps. If you haven’t read An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, I highly recommend you do so! The book helps you think of your kitchen/pantry/fridge in a different way. It’s ALLLLL about meal prep and building an arsenal in order to make something out of nothing! It’s super inspiring and it’s helped me cut down on waste in our kitchen.

3. If I don’t plan ahead, I get REALLY lazy and waste food/make bad choices when it comes to eating. You don’t want to see what I put in my face when I get home after work between the hour or two before dinner. The answer is CRACKERS and anything crunchy. Casey will come home from work and will ask me what’s for dinner and I’m like…Uhhh. I already ate (CHEESE & CRACKERS!) and then we don’t get to sit down and eat at the same time. That’s my reality and we’re much happier when we eat together.

Let me walk you through my meal prep for last week:

This is what an hour and a half  on a Sunday morning can do for you.

My Everyday Life // shutterbean

First thing I did was get 3 cups of rice going in my rice maker .  I like to have a big bowl of rice in the fridge (Casey LOVES rice) and then I bag up portions that can easily be stored in the freezer if we don’t get around to eating them. Sometimes I’ll throw vegetables in the rice cooker when the rice is in the “warming” mode so we have some cooked broccoli or carrots for the week.

I made soup, washed fruits (so they’ll be grab & go in the fridge) and sliced oranges. I then made a batch of red quinoa, toasted walnuts, made mint iced tea, put together two Reset Button Salads for work  from what was leftover in my fridge and made some tuna salad for sandwiches or salads later on in the week.

Meal Prep // shutterbean

Chopped vegetables & fruits are EVERYTHING. I have to feed a 5 year old so it really helps to have stuff like this on hand.

Also, if I don’t prep vegetables in the fridge, I don’t always eat them before they go bad.

Meal Prep // shutterbean

After I’m finished putting stuff in containers, I label everything. It may look like it takes a lot of time but it doesn’t. All you need is a sharpie & some washi tape (it easily peels off) and you’re good to go. If you’re putting anything in the freezer, put the date on the outside. It’s very helpful to your future self.

*** Owl bowls can be found at Cost Plus World Market ***

Meal Prep // shutterbean

Then we put it away!

Meal Prep // shutterbean

I have a list of things that are IN the fridge OUTSIDE the fridge so I can look at it and figure out what to eat.

I use a Martha Stewart Decal from Staples with a dry erase pen. Every week there’s a new list.

I highly recommend this ALL OUT OF notepad near/on the fridge so you can mark the things you need to pick up at the store. I carry a few extra pages in my purse so I can create a grocery list on the fly.

Meal Prep // shutterbean

Even though I don’t “meal plan,” I know what we’ll be eating for a few meals this next week.

Meal Prep for the Upcoming Week // shutterbean

SOUPS: If you have chicken or vegetable stock and a fridge full of vegetables to be used, you can have instant soup.  We tend not to eat the same soup two days in a row around these parts, so I freeze individual portions for lunch at work or quick dinners during the week. Soups are a way to get extra vegetables in my diet without having to chew them. That sounds weird, but I usually fortify most of my soups with fresh spinach or kale. You can get rid of SO MANY things in your fridge with one soup. Add a can of tomatoes, a can of white beans and some pasta and you have an instant minestrone. Black beans, cilantro, dried oregano, hot sauce & cumin and we’re having a Mexican fiesta. Throw some rogue corn tortillas/tortilla chips in while you’re at it. Tortilla soup!

You might like:

CHOPPED VEGETABLES: If you have containers of chopped vegetables, it’s SO much easier to snack on them instead of chips/crackers/pretzels. It just takes less than 5 minutes and you have a little appetizer to get you through the afternoon hours before dinner. You could always do prep for fajitas or stir fry and bag the ingredients up so you can save time later on.When I made the batch of chopped vegetables for the week, I had an impromptu get together that night and my prep turned into a vegetable appetizer with dip. 

Dips & Spreads you might like:

ROASTED VEGETABLES: We are HUGE fans of Roasted Broccoli around these parts. I will make a big batch of broccoli or any other vegetables that roast well (beets, carrots, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, & peppers). Sometimes I throw in a few sausages with the vegetables to make a quick & easy meal. You can eat the roasted vegetables cold, in salads, in eggs, on top of baked potatoes (with cheese!), in rice dishes & puree them in soups. Another reason to have chopped vegetables in your fridge! If you don’t get around to snacking on them, you can roast them before they go bad.

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SALADS: The only way I eat salads on a regular basis is if I’ve made them ahead of time. I know this about myself. It’s REALLY easy to make a salad, but if I don’t see it in front of my face, I’m not likely to know it’s an option. I like to make a big batch of salad and split it up into containers, so that I have side salads/whole salads for lunch or dinner during the week. I highly recommend my Reset Button Salad .  Make a large batch of dressing and keep it in a jar in your fridge and dress when you’re ready. Someone asked me about food browning when you chop it. I tend to avoid things that brown (apples, pears, avocado, etc.) in my pre-made salads but I’m happy to add them RIGHT before serving. I ALWAYS buy crazy amounts of arugula and if I don’t make it through my stash, I make Arugula Pesto.

You might like:

RICE/QUINOA/COOKED PASTA:  It’s really good to have access to grains & rice that are already cooked. If we have rice, I can easily make Bacon Fried Rice, a Mexican Rice (with soyrizo or an egg for breakfast!), a quick stir-fry, or rice dish with roasted sausage & peppers.  Red quinoa has been one of my favorite fridge staples lately. I add it to my salads or I’ll heat it up in the morning with almond milk, toasted walnuts and bananas and call it breakfast. Quinoa is also really good with pesto & eggs. If you have any leftover plain pasta, mix it with a bit of olive oil and seal it in a storage container. It’s delicious with eggs in the morning and if you have a fun shaped pasta like bowties or shells, you can make a pasta salad for later in the week.

You might like:

GRANOLA/NUTS/SNACKS: When I have my oven going on a Sunday night, I like to throw in a batch of granola, nuts or shredded coconut to toast. If I have a batch of granola in my kitchen cabinet for the week, I pair it with yogurt & a banana in the morning and I’m all set. Every now and then I go through our pantry and make trail mix out of the small/random bags of raisins, dried cranberries, pecans, almonds, etc. I’ll throw in some of the toasted coconut & a handful of chocolate chips/peanut butter chips to keep it interesting. I put the trail-mix into portioned containers and keep a few in my purse and in my car for emergencies.

You might like:

FLAVORED WATERS/TEAS:

I don’t drink enough water. Maybe you’re the same. I’ve found it easier to drink water when there’s a flavor to it. If we have a lemon that’s getting hard or a rogue bit of cucumber, slice them up and and make instant flavored water.  I especially love the combination of orange & cucumber.  Iced tea is great to have as well!

You might like:

Meal Prep for the Upcoming Week // shutterbean

A juicer: When I have rogue fruits & vegetables that can be juiced, I juice them! Juicing is usually a weekend thing for me as I don’t have the time in the morning before work to clean up my juicer. If you’re looking for a good juicer, I highly recommend the Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer . It’s really great at getting all of the juice out of greens. And greens are usually what I have left hanging around by the end of the week.  Slow mastication is the way to go!

A Food Dehydrator:  We’ve been binging on dehydrated food lately. You have NO IDEA how many pineapples I went through this past month. When we have food that’s on the verge of over-ripening, I dehydrate!  Cooper loves bananas the most. I’m a sucker for apples, pineapples and pears. It’s a great way to make your food last longer and it adds to your snack arsenal. We have a  Nesco Food Dehydrator  that we love and highly recommend. It has a great price point with fantastic reviews on Amazon. We have been VERY happy with ours. I think we ran it every day in December. Also BEEF JERKY!!!

The Freezer: This is an entire post in itself, but all I have to say is when in doubt, freeze it. Too much fruit? Freeze it? Bags of rice, loaves of bread, cookies, muffins, coffee cake, makeshift pizzas, freezer burritos (breakfast ones too!), tortellini, frozen bananas, leftover lemon juice, leftover wine!, packs of fruits for instant smoothies, and leftover marinara sauce all take up real estate in my freezer.  The key is labeling your items (washi tape helps!), having them organized & using them before they get too old. The freezer is SOOOO YOUR FRIEND. Don’t take it for granted!

I hope this helps you to remember that carving a little time out of your weekend can really help ease you into the upcoming week.

If you have any tips & tricks to add, leave a comment below. Let’s share our knowledge!

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114 Comments

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  • January 27, 2014

    Thank you so much for writing this guide! It’s so extensive and super helpful. You’ve really inspired me to adopt a food prep routine. And I imagine it’s also a therapeutic ritual to have every Sunday. :)

  • Colleen
    January 27, 2014

    Great inspiration and I weirdly love to see people’s fridges. Rachael Ray used to do celeb fridges in her mag and it was my favorite feature. Love your owl bowls! Where did you find them?

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      HA! I love that feature too and I obsessively stare at all of the products in their fridges!

  • Brenda M.
    January 27, 2014

    Really practical (and inspiring) post. Thanks for mentioning the two products and for taking the time to write and post it!

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      Thank you, Brenda! I am glad you liked it.

  • Molly
    January 27, 2014

    where is your owl tupperware from?! Its so cute & functional!

    • Maia
      January 27, 2014

      I got the same ones at world market!

  • Love this, it’s definitely an aim for me as I totally hate waste!

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      Cost Plus World Market :)

  • This is an awesome post! I hate wasting food. You’ve shared some great ideas. Thanks!

  • Joanna
    January 27, 2014

    I wish I was this into food, I love being organised but planning a list of dinners for the week is as far as I get. On a practical note, I have a couple of questions. We have always been told to be really careful with rice, especially when re-heating it as it is a breading zone for germs? Have you had any problems / experience with this.
    Also when keeping chopped up veggies in the fridge do they not dry out a bit? Thanks Tracy, keep the HS posts coming, I loved reading them on HomeFries

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      Hmm. I haven’t had a huge problem with this (at least that I now of!) I make sure the rice is cooled down before I put it in the fridge. I wonder if that’s enough?

    • talkradio
      January 27, 2014

      I’ve heard this about rice but haven’t investigated it… my mom is from the Philippines, and I grew up making rice and leaving it on the counter for a day or two… much to my husband’s horror. I wonder what kind of bacteria I’ve ingested >_<

    • Stacy
      February 11, 2014

      Dried rice usually has spores of a bacteria that are activated when moisture and heat are added in the cooking process. Once the rice is cooler than 140 degrees F (60C), the bacteria starts to grow and produce toxins. The toxins do not make the rice look, smell or taste different. The toxins are not destroyed by reheating.
      The safest way to store rice is to break a large batch into small servings, use shallow containers when possible, and refridgerate once they’re near 140 degrees. It is also recommended to only reheat rice once.
      http://www.foodsafety.govt.nz/elibrary/industry/safe_cooling-cooked_rice.htm

  • Ludi
    January 27, 2014

    Thanks Tracy!
    This post does help a lot: I am an Italian student, and getting myself to eat the right amount of different thinks is sometimes hard! I am a salad-lover and also a pizza-dough planner: it helps to avoid take-outs on a lazy carbs day!
    Thank you again, you are an INSPIRATION

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      I like the idea of being a pizza dough planner. Tell me more about that.

      • Ludi
        January 27, 2014

        I make the pizza dough with a family recipe: I let the dough sit to rise (we use a fresh yeast but it is the same with dry yeast) and when we would normally start to roll out the dough we make individual dough-balls and set it in the freezer in a plastic wrap. It stays up to 2 weeks and you just have to let it defrost in the fridge ( I take it out in the morning for evening use) and let it then sit for other 30 minutes before rolling that out. I also adore to let tomato sit mixed with basil or oregano from morning to night so it gets the flavour really spreading in the dressing. And then mozzarella on top!
        Thank you again Tracy, following you and Joy (your podcast kept me going all through university) is a pleasure l

  • Pam
    January 27, 2014

    Wow!!! Awesome post. I need to get in the game. ha

    I find some weeks I’m super good with food prep and other weeks not so much. Also, I’m not a huge left-overs person, so sometimes having things prepped too much (like a salad made ahead) feels like leftovers to me and I won’t eat it. I’m weird though. I really like the idea of making grains ahead because those take a longer time when I’m making dinner.

  • Pam
    January 27, 2014

    Also, forgot to say, I LOVE the idea of posting what you have in and out of the fridge. I think its easy to think there is nothing to eat just because you forget what you’ve bought/prepared. I’m definitely going to try that trick!

  • tricia
    January 27, 2014

    Great post!!! I am wondering where you got the owl bowls :)

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      They are from Cost Plus :)

  • Amanda Barkey
    January 27, 2014

    Great post Tracy- good tips!

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      Thanks, friend!

  • January 27, 2014

    I loved it, Tracy!!! I was a meal planner for years, but then life kind of happened and now I keep staples on hand and cook when I need to and what I want to. No stress and I’m USUALLY excited to get into the kitchen.

    I love freezing single serving portions of casseroles, individual waffles, individual cinnamon rolls, muffins, pancakes in 3s, leftover sausage gravy, mashed potatoes, granola, cheeses that freeze well, and frostings. I’ve never prepped food just to go in the fridge for later other than when we have company coming. It would be soooo good to do though! I’ll have to start. :)

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      The mashed potatoes hold up well? I have to try that!

  • January 27, 2014

    This was such a great Monday post to read! I’ve tried weekly meal prep a handful of times and it just doesn’t work for my boyfriend and I. I come home from work and browning meat is the worst possible thing to do, and really, I just want to order a doughy pizza. I’m for sure going to use a ton of these tips, so many great ideas! Thank you!

    xo
    Diana

  • Carly
    January 27, 2014

    Thanks for this post Tracy. There were some ideas in it that I’m going to add into my weekly planning.

    My husband thinks I’m crazy, but I’m an obsessive planner. I do a three week meal plan, as well as a three week plan for the kids’ school lunches and snacks. (Yay for colour-coded spread sheets!) By planning both, I can strategize which meals will be good for leftovers for the kids and then I can make sure I make extra. I find that planning over a few weeks helps me spread out favourite meals, balance out meals (a mix of chicken meals, beef meals, cheesy meals, Mexican/Italian/Greek meals, etc.), and make sure there’s at least one meatless meal a week. I like to plan meals that will use leftovers within the next day or two, like barbecued chicken on Monday and chicken quesadillas on Wednesday. I also like to double favourite recipes so every second time we have a meal, I can just pull it out of the freezer (taco meat, spaghetti sauce, soup, hamburgers, marinated chicken, pizzas, etc.)

    Weekend food prep is a necessity in our house too. My husband and I prep the vegetables, meat, soups, etc. for that week’s meals, prep food for our lunches (tuna, egg salad, quinoa salad, etc), cup up vegetables for snacking, and roast vegetables for work snacks.

  • January 27, 2014

    puhleeeeease come straightenence me. I am a disaster zone.

    But I am totally getting off my tooshie and making a few things for the week right now. Great post Tracy.

  • January 27, 2014

    Every once in a while you come across a post that gets bookmarked FOREVER…this is one of those posts. Thank you Tracy!!

  • Reynaul
    January 27, 2014

    Great post! I have the owl bowls and love love love them! I use them to prep my salads for the week and it has made life wonderful! For those that asked, the bowls are at World Market/Cost Plus. I would love if you did one of these posts once a month or so just as a refresher! Again great post and I am off to get that Martha Stewart decal! :-)

  • January 27, 2014

    This post must have taken you FOREVER, wow. Nicely done! I like the idea of the dry erase board for the fridge, because I also like to write down what’s ready to eat and usually resort to paper lists. I don’t like wasting food either and it’s so true that a big pot of soup can use up all those little bits in the fridge. Smoothies have been great for using extra yogurt/milk/coconut milk and extra veggies, fruit and mint.

  • Joanna
    January 27, 2014

    I also love seeing an organized fridge! My husband and I have the Cozi app on our iphones. It’s a shared calendar/to do list/shopping list. You can add sub-lists, too (like we have shopping lists for Home Depot, Trader Joe’s, BJs, etc). It’s so great bc either one of us can add to it, and check things off once we shop. (Husband just has to *remember* to look at it when he shops, hmmm…)

  • April
    January 27, 2014

    This is an incredible post–thanks! Your efforts in putting together the Food Planning Manual are greatly appreciated! This post has completely inspired and motivated me to “do better” with my planning.

  • January 27, 2014

    This is such a useful post! I definitely need to get into more advance planning. Our freezer is always stuffed full of things made in advance (veg broth, chili, burgers, etc), but the fridge? Not so much. More planning ahead!

  • Lane V
    January 27, 2014

    You have done it again! I do this type of this not enough. I also do a frezzer meal day at times with what I am cleaning out. The freezer soups save me on the days, nothing easier than defrosting soup!

  • January 27, 2014

    Consider me inspired. I love the idea of having veggies chopped up, I eat so much better if I have healthy things ready to snack on! I’m making your granola too!

  • January 27, 2014

    I love these posts; they always give me ideas for my own (non-existent) meal planning and prep. You totally made my day with the dry erase decal idea – I had no idea that existed! Also, how in the world do you keep your stainless clean (even if it was just for the picture!)??

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      There’s this product that my mom introduced me to called SHEILA SHINE. It’s rather stinky, but I spray it on a microfiber and wipe the fridge down. Makes the fridge SPARKLING clean. I get really annoyed with fingerprints so I try to do it at least once a week.

      • January 28, 2014

        Sweet, thank you! And my husband thanks you (he’s more bothered by the fingerprints than I am, but I too have my limits…) = )

  • Heidi
    January 27, 2014

    I love this post. I just spent yesterday baking bread, making mariniara sauce, granola and prepping small containers of mirepoix for the freezer and roasting a chicken for dinner (making broth with the bones later!) Such a great feeling knowing what you’re working with for the week rather than planning a meal for each day. My favorite day is what we call “Wild Card” and that is usually a soup or strifry with all the leftovers. Or grilled cheese. :)

  • Jenn
    January 27, 2014

    Can I make a request?? I would love a tutorial on how you dehydrate fruits and veggies.

    We have the exact same dehydrator for my husband to make venison jerky post-hunting trips. The one time I tried to dehydrate banana slices into chips it was the “epicest” of epic fails. They were gummy in not a good way and I could hardly pry them off of the tiers.

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      I spray the racks with coconut oil before I put the bananas down. Makes them less likely to stick. Also- bananas take a LONG TIME. We usually do 18-24 hours (i know! so long!)

    • Kate
      January 28, 2014

      Alton Brown dehydrates things by stacking them between air filters and attaching them to a big box fan with bungee cords. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but really want to because I don’t have space for a regular food dehydrator.

  • Debbie
    January 27, 2014

    Great post…the link for coconut carrot soup kept coming up vegetable soup. Just letting you know. Thanks!

    • Tracy
      January 27, 2014

      thanks for catching that. Fixed :)

  • PhylieQ
    January 27, 2014

    OMG, Tracy…
    This post just made my year! Just what I was looking for.
    Now I’m smiling at 2014 :)
    Thank you!!!!!

  • Linda
    January 27, 2014

    Love this post. Your brain and my brain could be roommates. I love to help others get organized. It makes life much less stressful.

  • Edith
    January 27, 2014

    Love that post Tracy! It seems like all you really need is a few cute containers in different sizes :)

  • January 27, 2014

    AH-mazing! I try to plan some (but not all) of my meals for the week. I find it keeps me from buying too much extra stuff at the grocery. But my fridge is such a mess when I open it, it stresses me out….and I forget what’s lurking in the back. Same with the freezer (way too many frozen fruits I forget about). So I love your exterior list + weekly clean out. It’s a habit I’d like to make my own!
    Juices and smoothies are definitely awesome for using up produce odds and ends. Your infused water is such a brilliant idea to use them too! Thank you so much!

  • This is great! I NEED to get back into meal planning.

  • January 27, 2014

    I can’t tell you how many times I eat hummus and pita bread for dinner because I don’t plan ahead. Not that I have anything against hummus, but definitely need to upgrade every now and then. Great post!

  • Kanishka
    January 27, 2014

    Such a great post! I’ve been meal planning for a couple of years now and it has really helped with getting overeating/overspending under control. We do groceries on Saturday morning so I try to pick out 2-3 meals for the week by Friday and make a list. I cook/prep as much as possible on Sunday. I always do steel cut oats or Joy’s Muesli in mason jars for breakfast for Mon-Fri. Salad, soup or leftovers for lunch usually. One meal will last the two of us 2-3 dinners and then we’ll do one other quick weeknight meal or throw together some Trader Joe’s frozen/prepared items for another couple nights. Trader Joe’s frozen sides and grains have become one of my go-to items.
    We’ll generally do take out on Friday night and one other weekend day. I started keeping chopped veggies and hard boiled eggs in the fridge for snacking and also wrote up the white board list of whats in the fridge this week. It really doesn’t take more than 2 hours on Sunday to prepare for the week and it really helps me make better decisions during the week. Highly recommended!

  • January 27, 2014

    love this! thanks for taking the time to put the process down for us! as a semi-newly married person with a baby on the way this is especially helpful for me.

  • January 27, 2014

    Awesome post. So much info and inspiration to get my kitchen/fridge organized!

  • January 27, 2014

    This put a big smile.on.my.face. when i read the bit about your “future self” because organising meals and cleaning out the fridge is all about that future self to me. So, just wanted to say thank you from my future self to yours because I’ll be thinking of you as I make extra rice and cook up quinoa so I can eat a healthy breakfast for a few days and yeah.. I’ll be saying thanks Tracy Shutterbean, today I’m all high straightenance
    :-)

  • Josephine
    January 27, 2014

    Wow – these are all excellent ideas! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it all down! I have recently become best friends with my freezer in an effort to reduce waste at my place.

    We bought a slow cooker this past weekend in the hope that it will make dinner times run smoother on the 3 days I work (I have two young boys who are going through a very picky stage). On a work night, if I don’t have some dinner ready within 10 minutes of walking through the door, then my three year old has his nose in the fridge looking for things to grab and my one year old attaches his whingey self to my leg, not to be shook off!
    I’m forever looking for ways to make my kitchen life easier right now – and your ideas are a great help!

  • January 27, 2014

    Thank you Tracy for such a great post! Right now I am living between two houses (my parent’s and my boyfriend’s) so while I have the best intentions of planning my meals, it all really depends on the other people and which house I am going to be at. I always make sure I have a good amount of fruit and vegetables at both places so I am good to go with salads and snacks. I can’t wait until my boyfriend and I move into our house next year and I can get all High Straightenance about our very own refrigerator!
    Definitely tucking this article away for handy reference when we move in. Thanks again :) So glad to see High Straightenance back guiding some of us not-quite-so-organised people onto the right path!

  • Anna
    January 27, 2014

    So helpful!!! You always seem to know JUST where I need help. Thanks for doing what you do…you do it very well.

  • January 27, 2014

    Man oh man this post must have taken you forever to write. So appreciated!

  • Laura
    January 27, 2014

    You’re so amazing and inspiring.
    I wish I was a little more Tracy.

  • January 27, 2014

    I love this post and missed High Straightence so glad it is coming home to roost here! I got Everlasting Meal last year on your recommendation and loved it so much I bought 6 copies and gave them out this Christmas to everyone.

    I have a chalkboard in the kitchen where I roughly plot out the meal plan for the week (we also write things we are out of there and my husband and I also list nights we’re out/have late meetings etc.)

    We also have breakfast for dinner one night a week when I take all the bits and bobs of cheese and any veggies that need eaten (including usually have a big carton of baby spinach or kale or arugula they wilt down to nothing when cooked). It’s a great way to get my husband to eat veggie and sneak things by him (sometimes he’s like a child!)

    I love how you’ve taken it to the next level with your whiteboard on the fridge listing what’s in there that needs eaten. I am going to add this to our routine. If it’s right there in our faces we can’t ignore it!

  • Maia
    January 27, 2014

    I just thought you should know that all of the tabs I have open right now are Shutterbean recipes – spinach tortellini soup, tuna salad, reset button salad, kale caesar, and killer granola – and I’m going to MAKE IT ALL. This shall be the week of Shutterbean!

  • January 27, 2014

    Tracy, I wish that you lived at my house! I feel like my weekends never have enough time to get to all of the things on my list, but the simplicity of this meal prep is inspiring!

  • Patricia
    January 28, 2014

    Thanks for sharing with us. It is so a great idea, good for the budget and it makes life easier and much healthier than to just grab a little something out of the blue.

    I read a few articles about make ahead meals but this time, I wanna get done it after your nice inspiration.

  • Nicola
    January 28, 2014

    The OCD in me is LOVING THIS!

    As a single lady, meal prep can be hard. You make something, it’s delicious, but five nights later you’d rather stab yourself in the eye with your fork than eat it again. This is why it’s good to share a house with at least one other person so that you can take it in turns to cook once a week. If you live alone, make it a regular thing to have a meal with a particular friend/family member once a week/fortnight and take it in turns to cook. My friends and I actually used to do this, but it revolved around watching “The OC” as much as mixing up our weeknight dinners!

  • fusilliamy
    January 28, 2014

    Yay, welcome back HS! Meal prep and refrigerator organizing is my therapy. I group things together by day and/or meals, but now I just want to label errrrrything. I feel like a dope for not freezing rice or grains before. DUH! Too much salad chewing…I feel you.

  • Amberlee
    January 28, 2014

    Nice!! I do something similar myself. I tend to make quiches, oatmeal jars, or smoothie packs on the weekends for breakfasts. Oh my, does it smooth out my mornings!!

  • Ashley
    January 28, 2014

    I am so inspired by this post! I do menu plan, usually incorporating at least 4-5 new recipes a week, and our grocery costs get a little out of control sometimes because of it. I told my husband last night that I want to set aside a month where I try having lots of staples around and being a little more creative for dinner during the week. Love it!

  • Colleen
    January 28, 2014

    Thank you for breaking this down so clearly!

  • January 28, 2014

    BEST POST EVER!!!! Can’t wait to get home tonight and whip my game plan into action. I love a good meal prep, but I always feel like I have to meal plan to meal prep… thanks for showing me that is NOT the case (seems so less daunting your way!). You are an inspiration!!!! Thank you!!

  • January 28, 2014

    I love all of the labeling. I need to get better at that. I know where things are but my husband does not.

  • January 28, 2014

    Oh man….. I am SO awful at this meal preparation thing. I know it’s only a few hours on a Sunday, but those few hours just get away from me EVERY time!
    Trish

  • Lorin
    January 29, 2014

    Great post!

    I just started reading Everlasting Grace today – it’s been on my TBR list for ages and I was just reminded again that I wanted to read it by finishing Michael Pollans’ newest.

    • Lorin
      January 29, 2014

      Oops – I meant Everlasting Meal.

  • lori
    January 29, 2014

    Loved this post, it combines many of my loves; organization, frugality and creativity! I was inspired and looking forward to it all day and night. I spent 2 and a half hours cooking plus at least an hour cleaning up my mess but, now we have chicken vegetable soup, salad, barbeque chicken, quinoa salads and three different smoothies for now and 3 more frozen for later. My son was so happy when he got home from school, he is Mr. Smoothie. Didn’t know I had so much food that was soon to be trashed! Thanks, I’ve been needing a food inspiration!

  • Lindsey
    January 29, 2014

    Love this post Tracy! I have a 1 year old son so even making toast is a challenge during the week. I definitely will be trying out some of your tips to make life easier :)

  • January 30, 2014

    This is so brilliant!

  • Shawn K.
    January 30, 2014

    This is amazing! Thanks so much with sharing your organized brain and plans with us!

    Love it!

  • Josie Ryder
    January 31, 2014

    This might be the best thing I have ever seen. You are amazing!!!

  • Erin
    January 31, 2014

    Love this post. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out and share with us!

  • February 1, 2014

    This has put my OCD/Cleaning/Prepping brain into overdrive!

    Clutter makes me hyperventilate and opening a fridge to find I can’t make out what anything is…ooh man. No bueno.

    This is tomorrow’s project now because I know there are some veggies begging to be let out of the crisper. Thanks!

  • February 2, 2014

    Thank you SO much for this post, it’s probably the most practical and useful post I’ve read in months! Have I said thank you yet?

    I really need to get back into being more organised with my food, so not so much goes into the bin and I don’t spend as much money. Not that I don’t think you should spend a lot of money on food, it’s my top priority, but spending money on food that goes into the bin is a bit senseless!
    Also a good reminder to get my juicer out more, like you, I just never get round to using it during the week, because the cleaning is just so time consuming, and then I think I might as well not bother at the weekend, which is obviously wrong, I also just thought I could make more and use some for ice lollies?
    Sorry I’m rambling on, when really, I just wanted to say thank you!!

  • February 2, 2014

    Tracy, I have loved reading this post, thank you so much! I’m currently writing an ebook for my work so my clients can have access to recipes & tips on a healthy lifestyle. Meal prep is SO important & I am really inspired but your process. Why didn’t I think to pre-toast nuts to add to my breakfast, I always do them to serve & it would be so much easier to have them already done (& not burned)! You’re a gem, thank you.
    Heidi xo

  • February 6, 2014

    this is such an amazing post ~ i definitely need to implement some of these strategies so I’m not constantly going to the store! A question about freezing rice and the rice cooker – do you cook it in the rice cooker, let it come to room temperature and then freeze it and then put it back in the rice cooker to heat it back up?
    Thanks so much!!

  • Monia
    February 7, 2014

    This is so helpful! Thanks for sharing! I’m so saving this for future reference :)
    By the way, we use an app (Wunderlist) to keep track of food/prepped meals in the freezer.

  • February 7, 2014

    Wow Tracy, what a great post. So many helpful tricks! I do a lot of them already and it also felt great to see someone else put them in order like that. Another piece if advice I like to give for avoiding food waste is to “pug things around on a mental plate” – that is sort of the “make something out of something else” but as a way to find out what to actually do with it. If there is something left over in the fridge, try to first imagine it where it originally was. Say: a cold piece of steak that will now never feed more than one person in its usual place on the plate. Then move it around: in the veggie section, you could slice it up and stir fry it with some broccoli and sesame + oyster sauce. Add some coconut rice or whatever and it will easily few up to 4 people. When you move I to the carb section – oh yes. Garlic, tomatoes, capers plus slices if your steak and some great pasta – yummy. It’s not a big deal, but maybe someone finds it helpful too. Cheers – Tobi

    • Tracy
      February 9, 2014

      Interesting! I’ve never thought about a “mental plate” before. Love that idea!

  • Jackie
    February 9, 2014

    This is my happy place. thanks so much for this awesome post. Such valuable info here. I loooove an everlasting meal as well as this awesome class I took in Brooklyn called purple kale Kitchenworks. Look up the site and the blog. Ronna Welsh is a genius, like you… :)
    I can’t wait for the post on things you buy often. I have my staples, but get bored and love variety..,sometimes to my detriment, I think. I want to have more “staple” meals…,

  • February 12, 2014

    Thank you so much for this post! You inspired me to clean out our fridge and prep all the veggies and make some simple breakfasts (boil eggs, granola, etc.). Because of this, lunches were easier to pack, we have gobbled up all the fruits and veggies (yay healthy snacks!), and had breakfast each day! No waste! Yay! Thank you thank you thank you!

  • Amanda
    February 15, 2014

    So helpful! thanks for writing this, I spend four hours a day commuting, and full out cooking just doesn’t make sense during the week, but prepping will make cooking MUCH easier (and help keep me away from microwave meals)

  • jackie
    February 21, 2014

    totally random, but do you have a favorite dry-erase pen? i can’t seem to find any fine-tip ones. :)

  • Jenn
    February 23, 2014

    This idea has really stuck with me and today I tried it out. I prepared…

    10 portions of baby food
    peppers and onions for weeknight steak hoagies
    tuna salad for hubby lunches
    cut broccoli, peppers, celery for snacks
    veggie prep for a weeknight pasta dish
    made 3 bean salad for lunch side dishes

    I feel ready to kick this week’s ass. Veggies and fruits are going to be eaten instead of chips. No hangry moments. Thanks for inspiring me to be more organized and eat like I know I should!

  • Molly
    April 27, 2014

    This is an awesome post. Thanks for the ideas/inspiration. Found you via Joy’s site. Can’t wait to read through more of your posts!

  • Toni
    April 27, 2014

    Where do you buy your plain washi tape? I love these ideas, thank you!

  • Jenny K
    August 26, 2014

    This is the most helpful post! I have referred back to it so many times and just wanted to say “Thanks Tracy” :)

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