Okay. So. Being an adult is hard. Whatever. Everyone knows it. But I swear the hardest thing is grocery shopping and not throwing it all away a few days/weeks/months later. Try as I might, I will never ever obtain my mum’s secret power of not wasting a single piece of food and always being fed. It is some kind of insane superpower she caught from a spider bite many years ago, and rudely didn’t pass down by genetics or whatever. The closest I’ve ever gotten is when I embarked on a 4 week challenge where all I ate was chicken and vegetables (delicious), but even then, there was wilted broccoli in the back of the fridge because well, broccoli kind of sucks and I cannot manage to keep on top of all of the food I buy in a fit of inspiration on the weekend, only to bin it the following Thursday, followed by trying to remove the weird slime. Ew.
So I’ve been embarking on a project of meal prepping. It has involved much more planning than I anticipated, but it is very rewarding. And attempt one was very enlightening. I made many mistakes, and I thought you’d appreciate either laughing at them or learning from them. More likely the former than the latter, but that’s okay! These mistakes are so dumb that you wouldn’t have made them. But don’t you worry, I sure did! And here they are, in step-by-step form.
Step one: Get out the recipe books.
In order to properly meal prep, you need to actually know what you’re going to be making. So, get your recipes ready. I mostly stuck to old favourites, but I did introduce one new dish: a chicken and broccoli casserole in an attempt to prove to the boyf that I will not habitually throw away all broccoli.
Step Two: Set up your plan.
As always, the real benefits come from nailing right down to the details. You typically eat breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. But if you’re anything like me, giving up snacks is unheard of, so those snacks should be accounted for. Then, assign what you’re eating for each meal.
Step Three: Work out how many serves of each recipe you need to make to fit in with your plan.
This is where I messed up. I’ll tell you about it in a minute. It’s hilarious. But, get an idea of this, because it’ll define your shopping list.
Step Four: Write a shopping list.
Have those recipes you picked ready, and know how many batches of each recipe you’ll be making. Then, write your list, and specify the quantities.
Step Five: Get overwhelmed and lie on the floor for a while.
I’ve not written this step as often as I actually implemented it.
Step Six: To the shops!
With maybe a side of cajoling for company from the boyf. Anyway, we got there, used the list, got in and out, through the till, DONE.
Except for my minor mess up with how many serves my chicken & broccoli casserole makes, and how much Moroccan chicken I would need to make. Anyway, I walked out with 7.5kg of chicken breast. I was confident my numbers were correct (even though two people absolutely would not eat 7.5kg of chicken breast in a week). The boyf was very nice and didn’t say anything at the time. But he knew I stuffed up.
Step Seven: get home, almost fall over because you decided to unnecessarily carry all of your groceries up in one hit.
Step Eight: Leave everything on the floor for a while. I have a thing for the floor.
Step Nine: Start cooking that food. This is what I think is more important than anything. Don’t just put whole capsicums and bags of carrots into your fridge. Get out the peeler and your snap lock containers (man those things are amazing), and cut, chop, cook and cry until it’s all nicely sealed and tetris’d into your fridge. Put on Netflix, it’s much more fun that way. And this way, as the work days mount, you can quickly assemble a meal that has enough vegetables so you don’t die from malnutrition or scurvy. I think scurvy is still a thing.
Step Ten: Laugh at the fact you only used 3 of the 7.5kg of the chicken because you didn’t have room in the fridge to store too many large containers of pre-cooked meals.
The key things I learned from getting into the specifics of drafting a meal plan is to pay attention to the numbers. Check how many servings a recipe will yield and get your numbers right so there’s actually a point to writing out a comprehensive list.
I’m going to try again next week. I’ll give you an update on if we’ve managed to ever get through all of that bloody chicken. My freezer is looking very full.