Food I Prepare Ahead of Time

by Andie Mitchell on July 1, 2011

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I do these things

each

and

every

Sunday.

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It saves time.

It saves energy.

It saves Daniel.

I toss a salad the size of South Dakota. To feed

population:

two.

This will carry Daniel and I through a week of lunching. The base is a mix of romaine and baby spinach, with cucumber, red bell pepper, avocado, and carrot. Each morning, I’ll add whatever beans and nuts and meats and cheeses and saucy sauces to the mix, and stuff that salad into my largest Tupperware bowl to tag along with me to work. I’ll feel, at least momentarily, like a creative and inspired individual. That feeling will *fade.

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*Quickly.

I fluff a big pot of short grain brown rice.

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Short grain is plumper, chewier, and nicely sticky. It lends itself well to side dishes, salads, salmon cakes, you name it.

I simmer fresh black beans.

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These I’ll serve on Mexican salads with freshly shucked corn, crisp romaine, cilantro, fresh pico de gallo, lime, sour cream, hot sauce, and queso fresco. Then, I’ll move on to tacos, burritos, and the like.

They’ll fix themselves a fiesta.

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I make homemade, thick, sweet, and rich rich rich marinara. Garlic. Caramelized onions. At the very least, my home smells like Roma.

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I like to make a big pot, and then ladle it into old glass jars. I seal ‘em up tight and freeze half for a someday Italian supper. The fresh batch will coat linguine and cavatelli, my favorites.

I simmer one massive pot of oatmeal.

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I’ll divide that pot into five of my favorite colors of Anthropologie Latte Bowls, line them up on my counter to cool, and then plastic wrap them as tight as tight can be for breakfasts throughout the week.

I’ll inevitably remind myself how much easier it would have been to use those glass food storage containers I bought at TJ Maxx.

Then I’ll look at the bowls- so pretty and delicate- and remember why I chose not to.

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I hard boil one dozen eggs.

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Just because. And no, I pay no mind to cholesterol.

I make one big batch of somethin’ in my slow cooker.

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This dish changes each week. Some Sundays it’s pulled pork, some Thai chicken, some beef stroganoff, some chipotle-sweet potato chili. Daniel usually decides.

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I also sweep my floors.

Sweep my floors.

Ask Daniel, kindly, to sweep once more.

Then I’ll sweep again.

{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea July 4, 2011 at 10:54 pm

great idea!! that sauce looks sooo delectable! do you have a recipe??

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admin July 5, 2011 at 7:42 am
Lyn @LovelyPantry July 4, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Preparation is definitely key! I can’t believe I’m not the only one who makes large batches of oatmeal! And you’re right, those bowls are a definite win!! :-)

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Lauren January 25, 2012 at 4:07 pm

What are you favorite oatmeal add ins? I know you mentioned banana and peanut butter. Is it as easy as just stirring in peanut butter or a mashed banana or is there a little more involved?

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admin January 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Hey Lauren! If I’m making a single serving of oatmeal on the stove top, I cook the oats in water with a thinly sliced banana. The banana sort of melts into the mixture as it all cooks. If I’m making the big vat of oats on Sunday, I’ll just add sliced banana to the oats each morning at breakfast. For peanut butter, I usually smear a spoonful all over the top of the oats so that the heat of the oatmeal melts it into a frosting-like layer.
I don’t really get into other mix-ins much.
Hope this helps!
Andie

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Paige July 4, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Yesss! Loved seeing this! Question though: how do you keep your avocado fresh for a whole week if it’s in a salad?

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admin July 5, 2011 at 7:48 am

Oohh! Good question! I actually slice the avocado the morning of the day I’ll eat it. I generally slice it in half, keep the pit in, and store it in a sealed glass bowl in my fridge. It does turn brown, but still tastes good!

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The Chocolate Covered Kitchen July 6, 2011 at 7:40 am

Squeeze some lime juice over the surface and it won’t turn brown.

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MelissaNibbles July 5, 2011 at 2:06 am

I need to start preparing food on Sundays. I always say I’m going to but lay in bed watching General Hospital on my computer all day.

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HR January 9, 2012 at 7:11 am

hahaha… Melissa, this made me laugh aloud. Because of how many times I have done the same, of course.

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Johnny July 5, 2011 at 2:17 am

God I wish I had your energy to do all that on Sunday! I’m lucky to stay awake in my easy chair!!! I guess the energy expended would help with the gains in the midrift as well as help on the…”just what am I going to take to work this morning that won’t take a lot of time to prep”. It always ends up being unhealthy and fattening!
We’ll try your idea this weekend and hope that it gets off the thought and into the action!
Have a blessed week everyone! :)

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Raquel July 5, 2011 at 3:09 am

I do exactly the same and some of my basics are hummus, Basmati reis and Aubergines with tomato (adding tuna or chicken makes a complete meal). Greetings from Spain!

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet July 5, 2011 at 3:23 am

In the winter I do something similar, but in the summer I’m definitely not as good about preparing food ahead of time. I wish I was because it would make the weekday meals so much easier!

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Lisa @ I'm an Okie July 5, 2011 at 4:14 am

yep prep is key and it’s something ive been majorly not doing well lately. thanks for the reminder!

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Mrs. Fish July 5, 2011 at 5:05 am

During the school year, I do a lot of food prep, but with school out for the summer, I savor not spending Sunday night worrying about the upcoming week. I love all the delicious things you prepped!

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Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet July 5, 2011 at 5:29 am

Oh yea, I need to get on this! I never have the forethought to think of what I need during the week, and prep it a week in advance. I’m sure that when I get a real 9-5 job, this will be completely necessary for my sanity!

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Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy July 5, 2011 at 5:42 am

I love prepping meals on Sunday too, it’s like lifting a 1,000 lb weight comprised of weeknight dinners off your shoulders. And my salad is about the size of Texas, I feel you on that one.

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Lisa July 5, 2011 at 6:01 am

What a wonderful tribute to the art of planning ahead :)
I was just contemplating doing more of this—and since I just picked approximately 17 beets from my garden, I really need to do something with those guys!

Have a fab day—I love the idea of making oatmeal ahead of time—and am 100% on board with the pretty (vs. more functional) bowls…

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francine July 5, 2011 at 6:01 am

really helpful advice! thanks for sharing!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 5, 2011 at 6:40 am

It sounds like you spend your Sundays very much the same way as me Andie! Do you have a Thai chicken recipe that doesn’t require a slow cooker?
And regarding the salad the size of South Dakota.. I do the same… for population 1… for lunch. ;)

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Beth @ Beth's Journey July 5, 2011 at 7:17 am

Wow I’m so impressed with how much you do on Sundays! I sometimes make one dish with enough for leftovers and consider myself really on top of stuff. :)

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Rachel @ The Avid Appetite July 5, 2011 at 7:18 am

I also use Sunday to prep our food for the week. It saves so much time and energy during the busy weekdays! Thanks for sharing your tips!

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Kristen @ Chocolate Covered Kristen July 5, 2011 at 7:28 am

Chipotle sweet potato chili? Please a) tell me where I can find that recipe or b) invite me over next time you make it. That sounds delicious… must make soon!

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Cindy July 5, 2011 at 7:29 am

OH MY GOSH HOW I LOVE YOU.

MOST….sadly…some Sunday’s I’m a heap of exhaustion…but MOST Sunday’s I do something similar!

Good for you!
I’m done buying sauce so I might add your making of sauce to my list!

YUM!
Have a great week!

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Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) July 5, 2011 at 7:52 am

Tyler & I make huge batches of tomato sauce (with every vegetable known to man thrown in!) and chili & then we freeze them. It takes up a whole Sunday afternoon but is so worth it in the long run.

<3

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kristina July 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

Sweet potato chili in a slow-cooker?!?!? Please share the details!

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Riss July 5, 2011 at 8:15 am

I neeeeed to do this. But my problem (in the past) has been making a bunch of stuff on Sunday, then not being in the mood for it throughout the week. I’ve even tried freezing a ton of individual meals, thinking it would just “grab-n-go.” But, to no avail… they sit in the freezer until plagued with “the burn.”

I suppose I like to feel “impulsive” about my meals (which is NOT a good thing when you have a schedule as messy as mine is). I need to try making a bunch of basic stuff on Sunday, keep everything in separate contains, then mix, match, and season throughout the week.

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Krystina (Organically Me) July 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I agree with you. I usually go to the store every day to grab things for dinner because I get in the mood for random things every day. It’s not good on the wallet or my sanity, but if I planned ahead, I’d most likely crave something entirely different than what I made.

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Evan July 5, 2011 at 8:18 am

Wow! Talk about building the week for success. I can just picture you cooking away on a Sunday, set to “Eye of the Tiger” as the soundtrack. :)

I like the idea of cooking grains for the week, since at the end of a work day, the last thing I feel like doing is waiting for rice to steam. Plus, I have a tendency to…um…burn it when distracted.

And what is this Thai chicken you speak of? I’m deliciously intrigued.

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Lea @ Healthy Coconut July 5, 2011 at 9:11 am

I have the same ritual on Sundays as you. I love going into the week knowing I have some healthy and ready-to-go food that I can add toppings to or mix and match for a bowl of goodness.

I also pre-slice fruits from the farmers market. I find it easier to eat them when all I need is to scoop them from the batch and add yogurt for snacks.

Thanks for this post Andrea.

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Online Sunshine July 5, 2011 at 9:15 am

That’s a lot of prep! It’d take me all of Sunday (if not longer) to do all that!

It’d be interesting to see one week’s worth of food that you eat….all meals and snacks…to have an overall view of what you consume on a regular basis. All of these blogs give me the impression that you eat constantly and in large quantities, which is probably not true at all, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who wonders how much of all of this you eat. :)

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JaNelle July 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

HA! Love it. I do many of those same things. It really is a key to a healthy marriage for me. Before I would ask the husband/man “what do you want for dinner?” and he’d say, well whatever .. me blank stare. Now I prep a few meals that we “decide together” so during the week it’s a no brainer!

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Emily July 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

Thank you for giving me the inspiration i need! My sister showed me your blog and ive been reading it all afternoon. Can’t wait to start preparing my meals on sunday to start a great week!

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Julie @SavvyEats July 5, 2011 at 11:13 am

Love this piece of insight into your life. I need to cook basics like beans and rice ahead more often!

I also need to sweep my floors more often.

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Leah @ Why Deprive? July 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

I should really start doing that with my salads. It would make my life so much easier. Every single night I complain to myself that I have to make my lunch, and every single night I do it, and forget something. Your idea is SO much better.

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AndreaSomething July 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

What a brilliant idea! I was just thinking to myself this morning after the long weekend that the last thing I felt like doing was making a lunch. Or breakfast for that matter.

Definitely going to start doing some of these things! Thanks for great post!

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Krystina (Organically Me) July 5, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Well, now I’m making a Mexican salad for dinner. The size of both the Dakotas.

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Meaghan July 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm

This is so helpful! I always say I am going to prepare ahead of time more often but never really do, but I am going to steal some of these ideas! I think part of me never doing it is my irrational fear of things going bad too fast

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Lisa July 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Love the bowls. What kind of oatmeal do you buy and how do you cook it? Mine usually resembles Spackle.

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Elle July 5, 2011 at 4:11 pm

This is such a great post! As a busy busy student and working 3 jobs I often pre-prep meals too! How do you keep your avacado from turning brown? I’ve tried lime/lemon juice but when I slice it and put it in my big batch of salad it still turns brown within 2 days. Any suggestions?

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KaraHadley July 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm

That sounds like such a wonderfully relaxing Sunday ritual.

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Jenn July 5, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I’m following your lead and starting to prep a large salad to eat as lunch throughout the week. Any favorite dressing recipes you’d recommend?

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey July 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I do those things during the school year too – it saves my life! :)

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm

It’s such a great idea to make things ahead of time. I’ll admit I don’t do that enough!

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Jeniece July 5, 2011 at 8:01 pm

My God, your prep is staggering! I’m not nearly that good of a planner. Something to aspire to…

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Claire July 5, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Brilliant. I’ve always loved the idea of prepping all my food for the week on one day, but have never had a very good idea of where to start. Great blueprints. Great post.

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haya July 6, 2011 at 4:45 am

you are for sure my hero!! i am a huge fan of doing lots of prep work on sundays. i’ve already got the boiled eggs and the oatmeal down, but i think i might add the beans/greens and maybe a sauce or slowcooker dish to the list. it certainly makes the week less stressful!

i find it somehow easier to get this stuff done in the winter though – maybe because i’m already mostly cooped up inside on sundays. summers are so much busier and out and about!
i have just moved and my commute time has grown and time at home to get lunches ready has shrunk, so i need all the help i can get.

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Carissa July 6, 2011 at 5:55 am

This comes at a perfect time for me! I just started a new job that leaves me with much less time for cooking but every Sunday off. I love these ideas!

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The Chocolate Covered Kitchen July 6, 2011 at 7:45 am

If you do all of these things each Sunday, it’s time to summon the mental health police! But great ideas! I have an occassional Sunday prep frenzy and make chicken stock (freeze in both pints and cubes), herb butters (dill butter is a staple, but also chipotle and a blue cheese and sage); bread crumbs and homemade croutons (I also freeze uncooked stuffing)and of course, there’s always a few pastry bags of chocolate ganache. And when it’s all done, I curse the makers of freezers for not making an upright apartment sized freezer to hold it all — the last thing there’s ever room for is ice!

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Elisabeth C July 6, 2011 at 11:05 am

I would love your thai chicken slow cooker recipe! Sounds like something we would eat regularly. :)

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Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun July 6, 2011 at 11:21 am

I used to meal prep like this every week on Sundays too. Now that I’m at home I have let that habit slide…but I really think it could still help me. You know, when I’m making lunch for myself, a toddler, and mixing up rice cereal for the baby. And everyone is cranky hangry. Yea. I remember the niceness of meal prepping then. Then somehow always convince myself its not worth it come lazy time Sunday. LOL

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Laura July 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Please share more slow-cooker recipes, Andrea! Those are so convenient! Everything I have made of yours is fantastic. Thanks for all the great ideas :-)

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Rachel Wilkerson July 7, 2011 at 8:59 am

This is great! I make some food ahead of time, but clearly not enough!! I want to print this post for ideas.

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Sara July 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Great idea!! I’ll definitely start doing the oatmeal idea! It’s so easy for me to have good intentions about breakfast and then get sidetracked with the thought of eggs, bacon, and french toast!!!

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Jen H July 10, 2011 at 8:52 am

I love this! I always have the best of intentions but I never actually do this. I am definitely thinking I need to start. I am a single mum to three teenagers … prepared food would definitely be a huge help. (I wonder if I can get the teenagers in on it ….. )

I was wondering if you had a recipe for the thai chicken? It sounds delicious and I have been looking for a good recipe for a while!!

All of your recipes look so delicious! I can’t wait to start making some of them!

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Jeniece August 1, 2011 at 8:44 am

Question! How do you keep your salad from getting too wet as it sits in its container? Don’t the veggies leak a lot of their juices?

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Mia December 20, 2011 at 3:00 pm

This sounds like such a great idea!
Regarding the oatmeal: do you mean ‘plain’ oatmeal or the egg white version you blogged about?
thanks
Mia

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Lyda January 3, 2012 at 5:18 am

Does your big salad base stay fresh throughout the week? I would think the avocado would go brown! Sorry if this is a silly question…I’ve never been a salad eater and it’s one of my resolutions to incorporate 1 salad a day into my meals. Thanks!

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admin January 3, 2012 at 6:29 am

Hey Lyda!

Yes, because I put a paper towel on the bottom and the top of the container (surrounding the salad) so that it absorbs any excess moisture. Also, the avocado does brown, but I’m ok with it :)

Thanks for reading!

andie

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Wendy February 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

Hi Andie,

I absolutely LOVE you and your blog! Quick question.. how BIG are your every day lunch salads? you have pictures of the tip of your salad, the side of your salad but you never show the actual tupperware size of your salad.. and im curiious what BIG in your eeys is. THANKS! I prep my food on sundays too :) I have about every bean known to man frozen in freeze ziplock bags waiting to be eaten at any given time.

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admin February 7, 2012 at 5:24 am

Hey Wendy,

Check this post: http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2011/12/14/how-to-make-a-delicious-400-calorie-salad/

I show a pic of my salad with my cell phone inside to give you an idea of size :)

andie

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Lexi May 5, 2012 at 3:31 am

I’ve just found your blog and am spending my rainy Saturday night in reading about all that you’ve done – it’s so inspiring and very, very refreshing. I mean, you actually LOVE food and you eat it, too. I’ve been making two days worth of oatmeal at a time and some casserole-type thing on the weekends and can’t believe how much piece of mind those steps give me during the week.

Do you boil the eggs for your famous lunch salads? I love big, hearty salads for lunch, but sometimes run out of ideas half way through the week.

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Melissa September 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

Andie,
First, you and your blog are both amazing and inspiring. I love to read it! How do you keep your avocado from turning brown in your salads if you make them on Sunday? I have usually put the pit into my homemade guac, but you obviously don’t plop the pit into your apparently massive salad Tupperware do you? Just wondering :)
Thanks!

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admin September 12, 2012 at 10:41 am

Hey Melissa! I’ve taken to keeping the avocado separate in its own Tupperware with the pit, and then I slice it on the day of eating. It still gets brown, though, so I guess I’ve just accepted its unattractive appearance :)
Andie

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Keeon Taylor January 15, 2014 at 7:53 am

Thanks for sharing. I know that salads do not freeze well and no one really wants to eat thawed out salad. However, cooked meats and soups usually last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. Good to add with the salads along with nuts like you mentioned.

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Jill January 16, 2014 at 11:31 am

She puts the salad in the fridge, not freezer :)

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