After so many of you said YES PLEASE to a meal-prep guide, I thought I would post it ASAP! Thanks to the invention of refrigerators and freezers, we can meal-prep in advance and save a lot of daily time spent in the kitchen!
My meal-prep guide focuses on desi main-courses and will hopefully work for anyone who, like me, follows a Pakistani / South-Asian diet. Admittedly, it can be improved to be healthier and more wholesome, so may be we’ll save that for an update some day 🙂 For now, I tried to cover as many details as I could.
Every Friday, I decide what main-courses we want to eat the following week. The menu can be based on items I already have in my fridge, freezer and pantry, as well as items on sale at local grocery stores. We do get take-out / eat-out at least once a week too so I try to keep that in mind and plan accordingly.
Overall, I aim for a balance in meals like this:
- One rice dish (such as Pulao, Biryani, Matar Aaloo Pulao)
- One meat curry/salan (such as Karahi, Nihari, Jalfrezi) with naan
- One vegetable curry/salan (such as Baingan, Bhindi, Zucchini) with roti
- One dish of Legumes (such as daal, chanay, raajma) with roti or rice
- One dish for kids (Pasta/Noodles/Pizza/Sandwiches)
- One Marinated dish (Chicken Roast / Kababs / Salmon) with veggies
- Salad / Smoothie (for side or as light lunches)
Once the menu is decided, it’s easy to make our grocery list. Generally speaking, Saturday is grocery day but if groceries can be done on Friday evening, it’s even better.
I prep food for 5-6 days. For Saturday & Sunday, we try to finish any leftovers we have, eat out, get take-out, or occasionally end up going to a dinner or hosting at our own place.
Sunday & Wednesday are prep days. Wednesday is a good mid-week point and also used to be my work-from-home day pre-covid, which definitely helps with prep during lunch hour or early in the evening.
When to Cook
Based on the previous menu, here are the dishes I would fully cook on Sunday and keep in the FRIDGE to eat on Monday & Tuesday:
Here are the dishes I would half-prep on Sunday and FREEZE to complete and eat on Wednesday & Thursday:
- Chicken Roast with veggies
Here are the dishes I also fully cook on Sunday and FREEZE to be defrosted and eaten for the rest of the week:
- Chicken Karahi
Examples of how Half-Prep works
For the Chicken Roast with veggies, marinate and freeze the meat in advance + pre-cut veggies and keep in fridge. On Wednesday, defrost, then simply bake or BBQ in summertime.
For Pasta, prepare the meat + shred cheese in advance and freeze both. On Wednesday, defrost, add tomato sauce & pasta and finish in Instant Pot.
Sometimes I also like to do fresh tadka/baghaar for daal instead of beforehand.
For Saturday & Sunday, we try to finish any leftovers we have, eat out, get take-out, or occasionally end up going to a dinner or hosting at our own place. Dawat-prep would be a whole other post… 😁
THAT’S A LOT OF COOKING ON SUNDAY!
Yes it is! But here is where it gets better – there are some dishes that I cook in bigger batches and freeze so they can be used at least another 2 times in the future. Things like kababs, koftay, daal, meat curries, soups and marinades freeze really well. So I’m not always cooking so many dishes every Sunday. There are other tricks too like using ready-made fried onions or preparing and freezing the Salan base (tomatoes & onion masala) in advance so that making curries is faster. And lastly, I find that having an Instant Pot makes it quick and easy to cook things like rice, pasta, daal and haleem etc.
TAKE IT EASY!
Lastly, I want to say – take it easy! If you’ve never done this before, may be just start with cooking 2 dishes on Sunday and having a game-plan in mind for the rest of the week. Then slowly add to your advanced dishes and frozen meals. Overtime, you will build up a stock in the freezer and have a system that works for you. And it may not look like mine at all 🙂
I hope that this was helpful! Don’t forget to share it with your family and friends!
Do you meal prep? What are your best tips? Let’s share so we can all learn something new!👇🏽