How to meal prep for the week in 4 easy steps

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How to meal prep for the week in 4 easy steps

Work smart, not hard and make the most of your cooking time with these clever meal prep tips.

If like us, you’re finding cooking for every single meal weighing you down, make the most of the time you are already cooking. Here’s a little inspiration on what you can double up on and store in the fridge for a later meal.

1. Double-up on veggies

The easiest way to prep for future lunches (or even dinners) is to cook double, or even triple, the amount of veggies than you would normally. If you’re roasting, for example, a butternut for dinner, roast an extra one. The same goes for any root veg, like sweet potato, carrots or beetroot. Broccoli or cauliflower would be great too. You could roast these, or blanch them, along with sugar snaps or mange tout. Sprinkle over some feta and toss everything through a few salad leaves and call that lunch. Or roast some veggies in large quantities and make versions of the following:

Harissa ruby vegetables with feta and black-bean salad

Don’t let the harissa throw you off if you don’t have it, the magic behind this salad is that you can batch cook the veggies and make a version of this everyday. Added bonus: it also makes for a substantial side dish for dinner, served with roast chicken or fish.

Get the recipe for harissa ruby vegetables here.

Roast sweet potato salad

A simple reminder that sweet potato + salad leaves are a winning combination. Bulk it up with some beans or chickpeas to turn it into a light dinner.
Get the recipe for roast sweet potato salad here.

Grilled broccoli steaks with white beans, red onions and anchovy butter

Roasted broccoli would work just as well here, as well as any mix of beans.
Get the recipe here.

2. Go wild with grains, pulses and beans

By now you’ve probably mastered the art of cooking beans and grains from scratch, as well as turning them into a substantial meal. Next time, double  up and you’ll have something filling ready and waiting in the fridge. Need a refresher on cooking beans? find it here.  You can also batch-cook cous cous, brown rice, small pasta such as penne, or barley. Here’s some inspiration of what to make with them.

Five-bean salad

Turn every type of bean in the pantry into this comforting dish, perfect for lunch and dinner, with the addition of a soft-boiled egg and some Parmesan.
Five-bean salad recipeGet the recipe for five-bean salad here.

Orecchiette salad with tuna and heirloom tomatoes

Give the tuna mayo sandwich a break and try this pasta salad instead. Sub in any short pasta you have at home already, toss in the batch-cooked greens you made earlier too.
Get the recipe for orechiette salad with tuna here. 

Pearl barley “tabbouleh” with green chilli, lime and celery vinaigrette

A reminder that cooked grains + veggies + punchy dressing = a quick and satisfying meal – no need to follow the recipe to a T. Use any grain you like as the base.
Pearl barley “tabbouleh” with green chilli, lime and celery vinaigrette recipeGet the recipe for pearl barley tabbouleh here.

3. Punch up the protein

The easiest of all the meal prepping is the protein. Simply roast extra chicken thighs, meatballs or even fishcakes and toss those into whatever leftover roast veg and grains you’ve got in the fridge.

Rosemary-and-lemon chicken

Great for dinner and then lunches for the rest of the week. These are also great for snacky kids.
Get the recipe for rosemary lemon chicken here.

Lamb frikkadels with beetroot raita

If you don’t have lamb, don’t stress. This would still work well with beef or even chicken.

Fish cakes

This is a basic recipe – riff as you like, depending on what fish you have at home.

Get the fish cakes recipe here.

4. Flavour enhancers

Here, you’re looking to make things that add a bit more flavour or interest to the items you’ve cooked above. We’re talking about things like pesto and hummus, which are great to have on hand to zhuzh up roasted veg or chicken, salad dressings and dips.

The best basil pesto

Sure, you could make the best basil pesto if you had all the ingredients, but we’ll let you in on a little secret. This formula works well with any leafy herbs (basil! Coriander! Parsley! Fennel!), so if you’ve got some that are looking a little lacklustre, this is the best thing to do with them. Similarly, use any nuts in place of the pine nuts – we love macadamias, cashews and almonds.

Get the recipe for the best basil pesto here.

Hurried hummus

Having a batch of hummus on standby means you’ll always have a satisfying snack option if you’ve got some raw veggies. Plus a blob on the side of any salad will make it feel much more hearty.

Get the recipe for hurried hummus here.

Italian salad dressing

This is a good base to use, but you don’t have to follow it exactly. Leave out the anchovies if you’re not keen and experiment with different vinegars or plain lemon juice. Add some finely chopped herbs at the end too, to make it more vibrant.
 Get the recipe for Italian salad dressing here.

Jess Spiro Article by: Jess Spiro

Jess Spiro is a freelance food writer, chef and restaurant critic based in Cape Town, who can often be found in search of the next great plate of food. Follow her on Instagram @jess_spiro to see what she's eating.

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