On a recent 8-mile walk with a friend of mine, we landed on the subject of food intake. We both recognize that we should be eating better, but cheese and wine always seems to be calling our names.
While we were both trying to justify our behavior and give advice to each other simultaneously, she mentioned meal prepping. My response came quickly and loudly, “Ugh.”
In my previous life, I spent hours on Sundays doing this. I was miserable.
- Slice down full melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelons)
- Portion other fruits (grapes, strawberries, apples)
- Dice veggies (bell peppers, cucumbers, celery)
- Wash any other produce to pack (peaches, plums, nectarines, broccoli)
- Cook an entire week’s worth of breakfasts (egg white, feta and spinach wraps)
- Grill dinner (I wore that George Foreman out)
So, the idea of going back to that horrendous routine gave me a viscerally adverse reaction.
“You need to calm down”
My friend told me prepping like that was virtually unsustainable. She believed I could prep for the week within a two-hour time frame.
I argued just to continue fighting the point that meal prepping is the devil, but by the end of the walk I realized I’d already planned to cut up my fruits and veggies for the week, so why not add dinner and breakfast to the plan?
Also – while I have a pie or something in the oven, I have some downtime.
I took it as a challenge and immediately went home to try.
Start time = 5:45 p.m.
During my grocery trip for the week, I grabbed some breakfast sausage and tortillas with the plan of making breakfast tacos on Sunday ahead of the week. (Yes, I realize that qualifies as meal prepping, but I am stubborn and was refusing to admit that.)
Taking a beat from my friend, I decided to try to cook breakfast and dinner in tandem.
I submerged three individually-wrapped frozen chicken breasts in hot water. Once the chicken was safely in thawing mode, I dumped the pound of breakfast sausage into a warm skillet.
While that was browning, I whisked six eggs. I still had a little time before the sausage was ready for the eggs, so I cut up some leftover sweet potatoes to make mashed potatoes.
After making my egg and sausage mixture, I tackled the tacos while the water slowly rose to a boil for the potatoes.
After building eight breakfast goodies, I looked at the clock. It was 6:08 p.m. I had successfully made breakfast for the week in under half an hour and my dinner was already taking shape.
Diving into dinner
By that time, the chicken had thawed. I dressed two with oregano, salt and pepper and dropped them into an awaiting oiled skillet. I noticed the water had started to boil for the potatoes, so I dropped those in the bubbles.
Then, I covered the third chicken breast in orange juice (I had a rogue orange from a previous mimosa day) and let it marinate.
It took just a few minutes for the first two breasts to cook. I pulled those off the heat and immediately into an awaiting container. With the skillet still warm, it took another seven minutes to grill the third breast.
With the potatoes still boiling, I started slicing the snacks at 6:46 p.m.
Over the years, grocery stores have realized what a time suck it is to cut up entire melons. With my pre-cut cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon, I just needed to slice them a little smaller and divide them into containers.
The grapes I’d purchased were already off the vine, so I just had to put them in a plastic tub.
As for the vegetables, I bought baby carrots (perfect for just dumping into a Tupperware) and an English cucumber. Both took moments to add to the stack of storage containers.
Finish line = 7:05 p.m.
Once the sweet potatoes were finally soft enough to mash (lord, those take a long time), I just had to dress them and deposit into another awaiting Tupperware.
Somehow I was able to cook breakfast and prepare snacks for the week, and put together the bulk of my dinner for three nights in less than two hours.
I hate admitting when I’m wrong, but this meal prep thing may not be as bad as I remember…