According to The Kitchn, one of the first terms culinary students learn is mise en place. This French term refers to the practice of gather and preparing your ingredients before you start cooking a meal. It's a concept that also works well in a home kitchen, especially when you don't want to spend the entire evening cooking. Put these tips to use for dinner and weekly lunch prep.
1. Have a plan.
Successful meal prep starts with a plan. Reserve some time each week to write out a weekly menu, including breakfast and lunch. You can also find pre-prepared dinner and lunch prep ideas that save some time. Review the menu and check the pantry and freezer to see what you already have on hand to make each meal. You'll have to buy everything else.
2. Chop everything at once.
When you arrive home from the grocery store, don't just put everything away. The secret to easy meal prep lunches is spending an hour or two chopping, slicing, and seasoning the food you'll be eating that week. Check your menu and start prepping the ingredients now. If you're planning to have pepper steak one night and chicken fajitas the next, cut some of your bell peppers into chunks and others into strips. Then measure out exactly what you need for each meal and bag the ingredients.
3. Organize your ingredients.
Having all your ingredients measured and ready to go is a game changer, but you can take this a step further by organizing your ingredients by meals. Place seven baskets in your pantry and assign each one a day of the week. As you put away groceries, check the menu and put each item into the appropriate basket according to when you'll use it. When Taco Tuesday rolls around, grab Tuesday's basket already filled with tortillas, taco shells, and sauce. You can use the same method in the refrigerator and freezer.
4. Season meat before you store it.
Healthy lunch prep doesn’t have to be boring or repetitive. Spend some of your meal prep time seasoning the meat you're going to use. Divide everything into the portions you need for each meal and put them into freezable bags or containers. Add a spice mix or marinade before storing the meat. You'll have flavorful meat ready to go for each meal, and more time to enjoy it.