Weekend Projects

One Easy, Low-Effort Way to Dip Your Toe Into Meal Planning This Weekend

published Apr 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

No matter how organized, clean, or on top of things you are, there always seems to be a level-up stratum that you can’t quite reach. Yeah, your pantry is organized, but have you decanted everything and implemented a modular storage system with scoopers, rainbow-ordered your snacks into perfectly sized clear bins, and chalk-marker-labeled everything?

Rather than falling into the dangerous comparison game or perfectionists’ trap of all or nothing, you can maintain a healthy perspective by seeing inspiration for what it is. Then you’re free to achieve your own standard and vision according to what’s feasible and realistic, and view your worthy results with satisfaction and even pride.

This weekend, we’re going to try our hand at dabbling in a weekly practice that could feel a bit beyond reach for many people: Meal-Prep Sunday.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

This Weekend: Plan ahead for two meals this week.

We’re not going to do meal planning “all the way.” In other words, we’re not going to chop and saute ourselves a whole week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Instead, we’re going to dip our toes in the water. We’re going to pick two to three meals to get a head start on and see if it makes a big enough difference in our work to turn the trial into a habit.

Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of this weekend’s project:

1. Literally write it down.

Love it or hate it, most can agree that planning what you will make during the week saves money and time and minimizes weeknight dinner-time frustration. So if you don’t normally meal plan, consider this an extra little nudge. Because in order to prep for some meals ahead of time, you have to know what you’re going to make. Don’t over think this. Even jotting down a few meals on paper and making your shopping lists from these will work.

2. Shop for what you need.

Planning is the first step of preparing some meals or at least meal components ahead of time. But you’ll also need the actual goods. Shop for any ingredients you’ll need for the week’s meals, leaving enough time to unload, take a break, and then prepare components.

Things You Can Do to Meal Prep Ahead of Time:

No matter the meals you have planned and have decided to get a head start on, here are some actions you can take now for a smoother meal preparation week ahead:

  • Chop onions for every meal you need onions for.
  • Thaw meat.
  • Make some breakfast burritos and freeze them.
  • Wash and chop the veggies you’ll eat with your dinners.
  • Prepare the toppings for a few lunch salads.
  • Cook meat for a few salads or lunches.
  • Wash and chop fruit for breakfast, lunch, snacks, or dessert.
  • Make a sauce or marinade for one of the dinners you have planned.
  • Cook rice for side dishes.

You don’t have to decide to become a bona fide Meal Prep Sunday person. But experimenting with a bit of food preparation on the weekend might really help your week go more smoothly.

And if this weekend project leaves you inspired to dip another toe into the meal prep universe, make sure you sign up for Kitchn’s meal prep newsletter for doable plans and helpful recipes to keep you going.

You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.