Find out what you can prepare right now to ensure you have inspired meals all week long.

By Kelly Vaughan
March 10, 2020
Courtesy of Macy's

Looking for ways to become a more confident cook at home? Our food editors are here to help. Each week, we're shining a spotlight on the exciting things happening in the Martha Stewart test kitchen. Our editors will share their best cooking tips, favorite products, new ideas, and more in our weekly series, Out of the Kitchen.

Meal prepping is a smart strategy for busy home cooks. The idea is that you make big batches of multi-purpose proteins, grains, and vegetables over the weekend, then use them in different meals throughout the week. Toss them over salad greens, use to create a colorful grain bowl, or just serve them side-by-side. The other option is to cook an entire meal—like Easy Beef Chili—and repurpose it in several different ways throughout the week. If you're getting home from work later than usual, having a full meal ready to go—like Pulled Barbecue Chicken or Chicken Soup with Rice—will make dinnertime a breeze. We turned to our food editors for more tips on how to efficiently meal prep for a delicious week ahead.

Related: Our Favorite Eco-Friendly Lunch Boxes and Food Prep Containers

Set a Plan

On Sunday, outline the recipes that you plan to make for each meal that week. This will not only make your days easier (so that you can avoid asking the same question of "What's for dinner tonight" repeatedly), but it will also help you to grocery shop more efficiently and intentionally. Consider how you can repurpose Tuesday night's dinner into lunch on Wednesday using many of the same ingredients. By purchasing exactly what you need for the week ahead, you'll reduce food waste, which is beneficial for both your bank account and the environment.

New and Versatile Ingredients

Meal prepping is a great way to experiment with new ingredients, such as a bundle of springtime ramps or summer squash. Roast a big batch of vegetables, or slice them raw, and keep them at the ready for an easy boost of nutrients at every meal. Food editor at large Shira Bocar likes cutting up fresh fruit such as mangos, pineapple, or melon to give to her kids to snack on while she prepares dinner. She also makes Martha's Favorite Vinaigrette to have on hand for an easy salad dressing, keeps a rotisserie chicken around for sandwiches, and cooks a big batch of whole grains for lunches and dinners.

Assistant food editor Riley Wofford loves cooking beans year-round. "They're one of the most versatile things—they can go into soups, salads, or be marinated and eaten on their own on a piece of toast," she adds.

Go-To Meals

For breakfast, Shira feeds her family soft-cooked eggs, which she cooks in advance for busy mornings. For dinner, she often turns to the same ingredient—"I try to always keep a package of Sun Ramen (fresh ramen with seasoning pack) in the fridge for quick dinners—I'll add greens to the broth and a soft-cooked egg," she explains. Time-saving, pre-packaged foods that are still healthy and delicious win with her young children.

Riley keeps a few staples in the freezer for busy nights when she doesn't feel like preparing a full meal. "I always have soup, chili, or at the very least a quart of chicken stock in the freezer that I can reach for if all else fails," she says. It's a key ingredient in our quick turkey bolognese sauce, but you can also use it for a quick pan sauce to drizzle over roasted chicken.

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