My Grandma’s Meal Prep Tip Saves Me So Much Time and Stress in the Kitchen

published Oct 8, 2023
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My grandma is the most organized person I’ve ever known. She worked on a farm full-time while raising six kids, which forced her to find ways to save time in the kitchen. One way she learned to do that? Rather than cooking the whole meal all at once (or batch cooking for the week), my grandma prefers to prepare only the ingredients and cook it later.

She cuts up the ingredients, puts them in a container for each different meal, stores them in the fridge, and repeats this process usually twice a week to keep the vegetables fresh. Her schedule is always packed from early morning until late evening  —  but I haven’t yet seen her stressed out in the kitchen.

She once told me she never wants to see cooking as something that she had to do; she always tries to see it as her little therapy session. That’s exactly what I’m aiming for. 

Before I started using my grandma’s tips on meal prepping, I often found myself stressing in the kitchen and trying to figure out last-minute plans to cook something. Too often, I’d use the strain as an excuse to order takeout instead, which was costly and, honestly, didn’t feel great. So I decided to prioritize meal prep using my grandma’s tips, and her simple and time-tested advice has helped me feel so much less overwhelmed by grocery shopping and cooking. Here’s how.

Build your own template and keep it simple.

One of the best pieces of advice my grandma gave me is to keep it simple.

In the past, I kept purchasing meal planning templates from Etsy (which I never ended up using). They were too complicated, which stressed me out even more.

My grandma’s approach is blissfully simple: She just uses her very old notebooks to write down everything she needs to get for the week. I prefer to take digital notes, so I created a spreadsheet that only contains three tabs: what to cook, what to buy, and menu references. That’s it. 

The more sections you need to fill out, the longer and more overwhelming the process is going to be. I like to have the menu reference tab so I can add new recipes and try them out every other week. The nice thing about having your own template is that you can always modify it however you like.

Maximize your ingredients.

Some people like to meal prep by batch cooking everything at once. However, I like my grandma’s old-school way of preparing just the ingredients and cooking them later. It still takes time to cook each day, but at least I don’t have to chop the vegetables or marinate the chicken on the daily anymore. All I do is toss them in the oven while sipping a glass of wine. 

When it comes to which prepared ingredients to cook with first, my grandma has another tip: Make sure you know which ingredients will go bad fastest and cook them first. For example, carrots can last longer than bean sprouts, so I’d make the bean sprouts dish first. It may seem like common sense, and that’s kind of the point. Her meal prepping process is intuitive, so it’s easy for me to stick to. 

Be flexible with your meal prep plan.

Sometimes, my grandma likes to take a break from cooking for the day, or make something simpler than she planned. Just because you created a meal prep plan for the whole next week doesn’t mean you need to religiously follow it. It’s OK to “cheat” by cooking something different . The point is to save yourself stress in the kitchen, and if that means taking a day off, then so be it.