Meal Planning and Prep

In the thick of summer with no central air in sight, the last thing I want to do is turn on my oven and heat up the entire apartment every. single. day. It reaches a point where, really, it’s just silly. So, to make things easier on myself, I’ve been doing a little bit of meal prep every single week. Typically done right after purchasing groceries or the day after, meal prepping only takes an hour or two if that. It takes even less time if you are a lucky soul with a dishwasher. At the end of that hour, you have snacks, vegetables, condiments, and some lunches and dinners already taken care of for the week. That means less time sitting in the only chairs in your kitchen that are two feet from the super hot oven....just me? Anyway, take some time after groceries to do all the annoying things that you never want to do, and be surprised at how much easier it makes your life! It does require some advanced planning, but this way you just have 30 minutes or so that the oven is on in one day instead of every night this week!

Here is a list of my meals for the week:

  • Roasted Vegetable Panzanella
  • Hummus and Salad Pita Sandwiches
  • Pesto Potato Salad
  • Rice Bowls (with cucumber, avocado and other vegetables on top)
  • Fruit for snacks
Just some of the things from this week's prep! From L to R clockwise: roasted yellow peppers marinating in dressing, washed and cut lettuce for salads, cucumbers, chopped mozzarella, bread cubes for panzanella, watermelon

Just some of the things from this week's prep! From L to R clockwise: roasted yellow peppers marinating in dressing, washed and cut lettuce for salads, cucumbers, chopped mozzarella, bread cubes for panzanella, watermelon


Looking at this list, you might notice that some things wouldn’t really work in advance, like chopping avocados or potatoes and leaving them uncooked. Fortunately, most things can be done ahead of time, which is a MAJOR time saver every night at dinner. It makes cleaning up easier each night, too.

For the following five meals, here’s what I prepped:

IN THE OVEN:

  • Roasted Peppers (for the panzanella)
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes (rice bowl)
  • Roasted Potatoes and Chickpeas (potato salad)

FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PREP:

  • Wash and cut up lettuce
  • Rinse and cut cucumbers (for pita sandwiches and rice bowls)
  • Cut up watermelon and other fruit for week

GENERAL PREP:

  • Chop up bread for panzanella (it will toast better stale and absorb more moisture from the dressing)
  • Cut up fresh mozzarella for panzanella
  • Make salad dressing for pita sandwiches, panzanella, rice bowls (even better to make it in advance)
  • Mix potatoes and chickpeas with pesto and herbs, let chill


Total time spent prepping: 50 minutes, plus 10 minutes of clean up

It looks like a lot of work written out, but you can see it didn’t take that long overall. I tried to use my time wisely. For instance, I immediately preheated the oven and got all the vegetables ready to roast, that way when they were in the oven I just had to check on them periodoically. From there, I started on the other prep while the vegetables were roasting. It’s basically just washing and chopping produce and mixing a few things together in jars.

This method really cuts down on dinner stress, plus it eliminates the whole “what-do-you-want-for-dinner-I-don’t-know-what-do-you-want” debacle every night. There’s always leftovers for lunches and nothing is set in stone so we still have flexibility to adapt and change meals as needed for our schedule. If you try it, let me know how it goes!