When we slotted back into the rat race this year, we realised that we needed to change some of our habits to work toward that whole work-life balance thing. When you’re working hectic hours, and you’re also going to gym or yoga after work, AND then you still have to rush home and somehow walk and feed the furkids, and only then cook dinner, you start realising why you’re only ever getting to bed at almost midnight and why you’re always dog tired and feeling like you’re constantly rushing. And that’s before any children come into the picture.
We wanted to put a stop to this madness. This circuitous hamster in a wheel feeling. Or if we could not stop it completely, ease off on the gas a little at the very least. So we changed our strategy with dinners, and weekday lunches. We decided we would set aside a good deal of time on Sundays and cook large batches of food we could freeze. We didn’t even know that #MealPrepSunday was a thing until we started doing it.
I’m not going to lie to you. The way we do this thing, we spend about 6 hours cooking on a Sunday. It’s a slog of note. But when you do it right, you have lunches and dinners sorted for two people for an entire week, sometimes even two weeks!
I choose two recipes, and Tall Dark & Handsome chooses two recipes, and we gooi! By Monday morning, we have packed everything and stacked it in our freezer nice and neatly. If you don’t have a big freezer, don’t make an epic amount of meals.
We’ve even started adding a braai element more recently. We’re braaiing anyway, so now we load up the braai with extra chops, chicken, steak, wors … whatever works. This will be dinner on braai night and all leftovers get packed into meal portion sizes. I have even discovered that sweet potato freezes well!
It has made a huge impact on our lives. No more splurging money on emergency take-out lunches. We get to ensure what we’re eating is in line with our lifestyle choices. We get home and the only wait for dinner is the time it takes to heat up a meal. There is no stressing about the time or forgotten ingredients, or feeling tired from a long day in the office and then still having to slave in front of a stove. And when we’re seriously tired of frozen dinner vibes or that one particular meal, we can always (and with much less guilt) get ourselves a take-out or order dinner from our favourite home-dinner chef.
So I advise you try it. Sacrifice a bit your Sunday and gain lots of time, energy and money every day of the week.
Tips and Tricks for Meal Prep Sunday:
- Always make sure you have enough containers to keep each meal portion. Use only one container for two people’s dinner as likely you will eat together.
- Use clear plastic containers so you don’t have to figure out which is which and what’s in the box.
- Colour-code the lids – whether to assign each person’s meals or to signify a particular dish.
- Start Meal Prep Sunday on Thursday or Friday by planning the dishes and making a shopping list.
- Push through. If you’re making 4 huge meals, like we do, your energy might be flagging after a few hours. Keep going. It’ll make a world of difference.
- Some things don’t freeze well. Experiment and work out what does and doesn’t work, and ditch what you find unappealing to eat after reheating.
- Make sure you still get in some fruit & veg. Many veg still freeze well and can be added to dishes. You can always add some veg or a quick salad to dinner every night, though, for that fresh veg vibe. If, like us, you grow your own veggies, it’s a matter of grabbing some lettuce, tomatoes and bell peppers from the garden, and creating a quick & easy salad with croutons or cheese. All while your main meal is defrosting.