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How I Approach Weekly Meal Prep

written by

Erin Schnabel

posted on

January 29, 2023

I am a farmer who loves to cook, bake, ferment and create. Most of all, though, I want to feed myself and my family nourishing, great tasting food.  If you are like me, time in the kitchen during the busy week is rather short. Pre-planning meals is not just an option for me, it is an essential part of getting nutritious food on the table quickly and avoiding the urge to “just order something”.  Unfortunately, the majority of food prep ideas online are about making  meals ahead of time that are portioned out. You make them all in one day,  and then eat them throughout the week. This does not work for us. We need variation and creativity with our meals to prevent food boredom! What I made one day,  might not be what I’m craving three days later. Now what?  

Our family views weekly meal prep differently than most. We use a set of principles that has worked for us for years – even when we are working long stretches of 14hr days.  It’s simple, quick, and leaves room to create.

-    Cook grains and starchy vegetables.  

I Precook things like rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes or quinoa. They go into their own container for later use. I also roast root vegetables like carrots and beets, or bake winter squash. These foods cook easily, store easily and they are very flexible as a foundation for building a meal.

-    I make at least two gallons of bone broth.

We consume around 20oz of bone broth every day. Health benefits aside- bone broth is also amazing liquid for braising meats, deglazing a pan, adding to scrambled eggs, noodle bowls, mashed potatoes, and so on. We always have bone broth in the fridge! Some days I will make broth with chicken wings, leg quarters, short ribs, beef shanks or other meaty bones.  After I strain the liquid, I pull off the meat for things like chicken salad, tacos, noodle bowls, stir fry and more.

-    Mostly during the summer, I Hard boil eggs for the week.

Not only do these make a wonderful snack on their own, they can be made into egg salad, sliced and topped on greens, or my favorite --  mashed with warm butter and cheese!  

-     A veggie slaw is always a hit with our family.

Whatever is in season, I turn into a side that is easy to just spoon out of the bowl. Cabbage and other hearty vegetables like carrots, kale, onion, and shaved brussel sprouts work great tossed with salt and lemon. It can sit in the fridge like this for days, I just top it with olive or avocado oil before serving. This is crunchy, bursting with flavor, and complements most other foods- it is our family’s favorite.

-    Do I pre-cook my meats?

Almost never. Dustin is pretty vocal about this, and if you think about it – reheated meat almost never tastes as good. That doesn’t mean we won’t have a  bowl of meaty pasta sauce in the fridge or some grilled wings.  The sauce makes for a quick pasta dinner and the wings get used in lunches all the time. Almost always, though, we thaw our meat in the morning so it’s ready to cook in the evening.

This method of meal prep is how we eat home-cooked meals for every meal of the week. It cuts down our time spent in the kitchen and allows for so much creativity.  Eating every meal at home is a revolutionary act.  I regain control of every ingredient that my family consumes, by cooking at home.   For me, it helps to see cooking as empowering, not burdensome.

meal prep


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