For me, wintertime meal prep is a must. I want hearty, warm, savory meals, and I can’t always whip those up after I get home from work. But if I’ve prepped a cauldron full of stew or chili on Sunday, I can heat up a bowl, curl up under a blanket and find contentment, even when the weather is terrible.
That’s why I used to be an all-bets-are-off cook in the summer. It’s sunny and beautiful, I’m happy, so why bother holing up on Sunday to make food for the week? Then, I realized summertime meal prep is just as vital, because it allows me to more time to enjoy the weather I’ve waited for all. year. long.
Fortunately, summer prep isn’t nearly as involved as winter prep. I like to keep things simple and straightforward, so I can eat and move out into the sunshine ASAP. Here are my favorite ways to do it.
Keep Produce Stocked
It’s summer, and pretty much every fruit and veggie I love is in season. This makes me feel zero guilt about filling grocery bags full of the green stuff and having it on hand for quick meals and snacks. As a bonus, most of this stuff tastes great raw, and I don’t crave hot meals like I do in winter. Instead, I’ll throw together a quick, fresh salad or slice up watermelon for a sweet afternoon snack. It’s nothing fancy, but, most of the time, neither am I.
Have Easy Proteins on Hand, Too
Most of us feel hungry if a meal consists solely of veggies, so I plan for that, too. I make sure I have some sort of pre-cooked or refrigerated form of protein I can quickly throw on top of salads or into wraps to turn my raw produce into a complete meal.
Everyone’s tastes will be different, but here are some options for the types of proteins I’m talking about:
- Rotisserie chicken
- Deli meat you can hand-shred and throw into your bowl
- Tempeh strips
- Hard-boiled eggs
You can get fancier if you want, too. Perhaps you want to cook up a London broil, slice it and hold onto it for a few days to add to your salads. Whatever floats your boat — and makes meal prep easier — is the right ingredient to add.
Pre-Cook Grains to Add Bulk
This step’s optional, but I sometimes feel my meals are incomplete without a few carbs. So, my only real meal prep step on Sunday is to pre-cook a big batch of my grain of the week. Whether it’s rice, quinoa or couscous, I make enough to scoop into salads or heat into stir-fry meals I invent on the fly.
Pick Your Perfect Spreads and Dressings
We have the basics down now, but these meals still need a little flavor infusion. Don’t be shy on your next trip to the store — head to the dressing aisle and pick up as many options as you need to make each day’s worth of meals exciting to invent and eat.
Don’t stop there, either: You might want to stock up on sandwich spreads — did I mention these staples make incredible sammies, too? — as well as dips like hummus and guacamole. Again, a good selection of dips makes great go-to snacks, whether you’re classily picnicking in the park or scarfing down a treat between work and happy hour — don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Make Breakfast Brainless, Too
The last meal for us to cover is breakfast. Now, you should already have a plethora of produce you can use to your advantage first thing in the morning. Think about easy, grab-and-go breakfast options you can pair with fresh fruit. Got nothing? Here are my favorites.
One week, I’ll stock up on pre-portioned cups of plain Greek yogurt cups. That plus a banana or handful of strawberries is a sweet start to the morning. You might prefer something like cottage cheese, which has a hearty helping of protein to sustain that early-morning energy boost you need.
Sometimes, I’ll even break my summertime one-prep-item-per-week rule for overnight oats. I love oatmeal, but it’s not ideal for hot weather. Overnight oats allow me to make them beforehand, store them in the fridge and eat them cold. If you’ve ever had oatmeal, you already know how good it tastes with a few slices of fruit and a spoonful of nut butter — another spread to keep in your pantry. Sometimes, I mix up my recipes to make the oats even more flavorful.
Prep for the Fun
Having handled all this, I’m ready — and you will be, too — to tackle summer. Not just in the preparedness sense, but in the living-it-up sense. That’s because you have everything you need, so you won’t worry about food. Instead, you’ll just enjoy the season, and that’s what it’s all about.