How to Plan a Meal-Prep Sunday
Have a lot on your plate but still need to get food on your family's plate? Plan a meal-prep Sunday with your loved ones to ensure delicious meals amid your busy weekday schedules.
Meal prepping has long been considered a chore, but we say no more! Set aside some time toward the end of your weekend to meal prep and mingle with friends or family. (Here are some meal-prepping tips you won’t want to miss.) You’ll get to spend extra time with your loved ones—and less time in the kitchen during busy weekdays.
Read on for how to select what dishes to make and what items and tasks to add to your checklist.
Pick Your Recipes
We’ve found the most effective way to meal prep is by selecting recipes that fall into one of two categories: those that can be eaten ASAP and those that will keep for the long term. This way, you can reap the rewards of your hard work for weeks (or even months) to come.
The former category can include those favorite recipes and ingredients that don’t freeze well, such as salads, dairy-based sauces and cheese- or crumb-topped casseroles. And for the latter, lean toward recipes that succeed in the freezer, such as meatloaf, pasta bakes, savory pies and brothy soups.
We picked some of our go-tos to inspire your recipe selection.
Eat This Week
Assemble these recipes, store them in the fridge, then dig in the week following your prep day.
- Pancake & Waffle Mix: Meal prep for mornings, too! This mix is so simple to stow in your pantry. Just add the wet ingredients and cook until golden on the griddle or iron.
- Veggie Fajitas: Slice and store the veggies for this meatless masterpiece beforehand, then saute them in the coming days. Once cooked through, add them to a tortilla and top however you like.
- Light-But-Hearty Tuna Casserole: Build this lightened-up entree in its entirety, then store, covered, in the fridge. All that’s left to do is bake until it’s bubbly.
Freeze & Enjoy Later
Make these easy meals ahead, then pop them in the freezer to thaw and reheat when the time is right.
- Freezer French Toast: Frozen pre-soaked slices bake or air-fry into a delightful breakfast. As they cook, cut up some berries and ready the confectioners’ sugar.
- Zucchini Lasagna: Layer up the beef, sauce, cheese and squash in this twist on a classic, then stick it in the freezer. From there, it’ll go straight in the oven whenever you’re craving Italian.
- Mexican Meatloaf: To prep for the freezer, wrap the shaped loaf, loaded with potatoes, salsa, taco seasoning and cheese, in aluminum foil. Then bake for a Tex-Mex treat.
Prep for Meal Prepping
It might seem redundant, but there are a few to-dos to address before the prepping begins, including gathering the goods and finding some prep partners.
Secure the Supplies
Chances are, you already have a number of the ingredients and most of the tools you’ll need for these recipes, especially if you stick to simple ones. If not, you’ll want to know sooner rather than halfway through sauteing. Trust us: The forethought is well worth it.
Glance at the ingredients for your chosen recipes and take note of what you already have on hand, such as spices, convenience items, canned goods, etc., before hitting the grocery store. Then, make a list of the items you still need to pick up.
Here’s how to stock your pantry, according to an expert.
Pull out the kitchen tools and gadgets your chosen recipes require, such as knives, measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls and more, before you begin prepping so everything is on deck. For example, if you opt to prep our aforementioned menu, grab the following:
- Cutting board
- Aluminum foil
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- Chef’s knife
- Paring knife
- Mixing bowls
- Whisk & spatula
- Two 13×9-in. baking dishes
- 8-in. square baking dish
- Four to five 28-oz. airtight containers
Keep these meal-prep must-haves in your kitchen, too.
Gather Your Group
Make it a family (or friend) affair! Kids can help pull out tools and mix ingredients while your spouse stays safely stationed by the stovetop and oven.
To eliminate guesswork later, write the recipe name, prepped-on date and reheat instructions on bright masking tape. Place a label on each prepped recipe’s container. Then, indulge in each of your prepped dishes at your leisure.
More Meal-Prepping Tips
- Think seasonally. Plan meals around the fresh produce of the season. This way, the ingredients will be higher quality—and more affordable, too.
- Repeat ingredients. As you’re refining your meal plan, prioritize dishes that call for some of the same ingredients. This will simplify your shopping list as well as save you time and money.
- Chop once. Eliminate rework by cutting up or prepping any overlapping ingredients at the same time. For example, if you need chopped onions in three recipes, slice them all together, then divvy up as needed. (Here’s how to hold a knife the correct way.)
- Spell it out. Write your meal plan on a chalkboard, whiteboard or even just a sticky note, then place it in your kitchen or on your fridge as a daily reminder of what’s on the menu that night.
Discover even more meal-prep ideas!