How To Create A Food Prep Day

Dr. Jenna Arts's picture
Posted by Dr. Jenna Arts
on September 12, 2014 - 9:10am
Eat By Design

“Do you REALLY cook all of your food for the week in one day?”

Yes. Yes I do…

There is usually a long and awkward pause and some raised eyebrows after I respond.

And I know what is going through your head when you think about jumping on the food prep day bandwagon. You think:

  • You will miss out on valuable family time because you will be slaving away in the kitchen alone.
  • The thought of leftovers every single night of the week sounds unappetizing and boring.
  • You will have to drive to six different places to buy groceries to accommodate such a mass production of meals.

I know that you are thinking these things because I thought them too. I thought that creating a food prep day would take more time and money.

And it is not that cooking in bulk takes up too much of your valuable time, it is that you have not yet realized how much time is left over at the end of each day to spend with your family when you take a couple of extra hours one day a week to plan and prepare properly.

Translation: less time cooking Monday to Friday and more time to spend reading to your kids, having a bath, reading a book or enjoying a great conversation with your partner.

I know how intimidating and daunting a food prep day can seem when you do not know where to start. So I wanted to walk you through my week.

If you follow this outline expect less time cooking (and doing dishes!), less money spent on groceries and more time with your family.


On Saturday I plan and shop; on Monday I prep.

On Saturday morning:

    First, I plan my family’s meals for the week based on our existing commitments and priorities. Ask yourself if your kids have soccer practice, if your in-laws will be staying with you or if you will be working later than usual and whether this changes your weekly plan.

      Based on this I write out exactly what we will be eating for lunch and dinner, Monday to Friday, and map it out on the chalkboard wall in my kitchen. I exclude breakfast, because most days we either eat more leftovers or B’Eggs (bacon and eggs cooked in muffin tins.)

      I am flexible on weekends because this is when we spend more time at home and enjoy cooking from scratch or trying new recipes.

      Here is an example of what last week looked like for us. You can see that lunch is always whatever we ate for dinner the night before. Keeping things simple is important at our house.

      Monday: leftover pork ribs and salad, buffalo chicken bake

      Tuesday: buffalo chicken bake, spaghetti squash casserole

      Wednesday: spaghetti squash casserole, perch and salad

      Thursday: perch and salad, bun-less burgers and coleslaw

      Friday: bun-less burgers and coleslaw, salmon and roasted root vegetables

        Next, I create my grocery list and separate it into columns: vegetables and fruit, protein and fat, and extras. I buy our vegetables and fruit, meat and cheese from the Farmer’s Market.

          I buy most “extras” from the grocery store; things like canned coconut milk, hot sauce, Dijon mustard or nuts and seeds.

          Eggs and dairy are taken care of on Fridays because I pick them up from a farm.

            Last, I shop!

              On Monday afternoon (but you can choose any day you like):

                First, I make my B’Eggs and get them in the oven.

                    While they are baking I prepare the buffalo chicken bake and spaghetti squash casseroles and cook each of them ½ way through. I finish cooking them on the night of.

                        Next, I will marinade my salmon and chicken wings and place them in separate large Ziploc bags and store them in a bowl in the fridge.

                            Then I will make the burger patties, but leave them raw in the fridge and cook them on the night of.

                                Last, I will make two different salad dressings. Lately, our favourites have been a sweet onion poppy seed and tzatziki, which I use as coleslaw dressing. The salad itself is made the night of.

                                I pack everything into Tupperware containers and store in the fridge or freezer until we are ready to eat them.

                                Now, keep in mind that all of these strategies may not work for you. Your brain may work differently than mine. Your family may have different weekly commitments than mine does. You may be cooking for more people than I am.

                                But regardless of our differences, I know that you will be able to take a few of my suggestions, modify them if needed, and be able to spend less time in the kitchen, and less money at the grocery store but still be able to enjoy fresh and delicious homemade meals every night.

                                For simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.


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