“Why would I spend four hours in my kitchen on a Sunday when I can spend just 15 minutes getting Hale and Hearty for lunch at work?”
That’s how my friend responded when I suggested he start meal prepping and batch cooking to avoid feeling gross at work.
But after he said that, I realized trying to change his mind would take longer than it does for me to find a movie on Netflix.
I could have bored him with my shpiel about how cooking gives you control. I could have shown him the math behind spending money at H&H compared to the grocery store. But I didn’t.
I get that argument a lot from people who think cooking is a huge project. The truth?
Cooking is like anything else that becomes routine.
Follow me on this. You’re good at using your smartphone, right?
I mean the physical act of using your phone, calling, texting, using apps, taking selfies and all that jazz.
The first time you ever picked up a smartphone, I bet you weren’t great at using it. It probably felt clumsy at first. You actually had to think about where certain apps were and how to get the emoji keyboard to show up.
But now? Knowing how to eat isn’t much of an accomplishment. It’s routine. You don’t have to actively think about anything.
That’s what cooking needs to become in your life if you want to stay consistent, be fast AND good at making food.
When you crush that learning curve, you won’t tell me that Hale and Hearty or any other takeout place is more convenient than whipping up a quick and healthy meal in the comfort of your own kitchen.
I used to be an awful cook.
In college, I often had wine and cookies for dinner.
Even after college, I burned rice several times. Once, my friend Zoe had to supervise me while I made pasta! (She loves telling that story, so go ask her if you don’t believe me).
So do you want to know how to get faster and better at meal prep?
The two frameworks I’m about to mention aren’t sexy, but they’re effective.
As a type-A person, planning ahead is my jam.
I’ve talked a bit about how meal plans help you stay healthy, but when it comes to making the process faster and easier, planning is essential.
When you sit down and make a plan, you use a lot of brain power on something you don’t have to think about for the rest of the week. Imagine the brain space you can create Monday to Friday if you don’t have to sit in front of your computer scrolling through delivery options when you should be answering emails or something.
Does that make sense? Instead of using up precious bursts of brain power three times a day when you’re already fried from commuting and working, you’re carving out time on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday to focus on food.
Instead of pouring through restaurant reviews, you’re just looking at your meal plan which tells you for dinner you’re having a simple, well balanced and super healthy meal like this:
Instead of randomly dashing to the nearest takeout place for something pretty unhealthy, you know you have the ingredients to make a loaded baked sweet potato at home with leftovers for lunch too. Talk about treating yourself!
Does creating a meal plan for yourself for the first time seem overwhelming? Don’t worry — you’re not alone! It’s not an easy or simple thing to get right the first time. If you want to use the meal plan I’m developing which is specifically made for busy people who work a 40+ hour workweek, sign up here for early access.
Like literally everything else that takes time and practice to master, cooking gets easier and faster the more you do it.
Grocery shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning goes by in a flash once you’ve done it for just four Sundays in a row – trust me. What used to take me half a day can take me two hours including clean up.
You’ll learn when to start the rice, when to preheat the oven and you’ll even get good enough to ditch recipes altogether (which slow you down considerably).
I know it’s not sexy. I know I’m not giving you a magic bullet here, but that’s because I’m being 100% honest with you. There’s no hack to improving your cooking skills overnight.
That’s why I stress the importance of making meal prep and cooking fun for yourself.
Make cooking something you look forward to by…
- Watching a movie or TV
- Listening to podcasts or the radio
- Cracking open your favorite beverage (beer or kombucha for me)
- Talking on the phone to your grandma (she’ll LOVE that)
- Inviting a friend over
- Learning to make the food that tastes best to you.
You don’t have to like kale to be healthy, you just have to cook your own food often to balance whatever you’re eating when you’re out.
Want results? You have to start somewhere.
The desire to save money or time or stay healthy has to be stronger than your dislike of being in the kitchen, grocery shopping, clean up etc. The more you cook and the more you use a plan, the easier all the not fun parts about cooking (the mess, the time, the clean up) gets.
If you want to reframe the way you tackle workweek cooking and meal prep, sign up to be a Workweek Lunch VIP below.
I’m working on a meal plan that will help you waste less time trying to come up with meal ideas and spend a little more time on cooking so you can master it and feel like a boss in the kitchen.