The mason jars are pulled out, Spotify is blasting, and you’re ready to get down to meal-prepping business. So, er, where do you start?
The key to not spending your entire Sunday afternoon in the kitchen is having a plan—and Leanne Miyasa has built up quite a following for her speedy system (as in, each meal takes less than five minutes).
“My goal is to get everything done for the entire week in 90 minutes.”
“My goal is to get everything done for the entire week in 90 minutes,” says Miyasa, who created the Simple Healthy Delish Facebook and Instagram. With an entire week’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that evens out to roughly four minutes of prep per meal.
Sounds too good to be true? Put Miyasa’s approach to the test—she’s sharing the rules she swears by for speedy meal prep. Which leaves more time to actually live out your best #selfcaresunday (cue up The Handmaid’s Tale and draw yourself that bath).
Here are 4 tips from a meal-prep master to make your Sunday cooking count in record time.
1. Buy core ingredients that mix and match
Meal prepping doesn’t actually start in the kitchen—it starts in the grocery store.
Miyasa’s first tip: Fill your shopping cart with items that can be used in several different ways. “I always buy two different protein options for lunch and dinner, and then a breakfast protein,” she says. (Spoiler alert: Eggs are her main breakfast protein.) “Then I get rice or quinoa—I’ll switch it up each week—and then vegetables I want to chop and ones to roast, like sweet potatoes or spaghetti squash.”
As long as you have protein, veggies, and a grain, your bases are going to be covered, she says. Anything else will just be extra.
2. Invest in this kitchen tool
Some people might talk passionately about their spiralizer or toaster oven, but another appliance has stolen Miyasa’s heart: her rice cooker. When it’s time to get down to business, the first thing Miyasa does is turn on that rice cooker.
It turns out you can put a lot more in there than just rice—it also cooks quinoa, beans, and lentils. “The key is to get one with a steam basket,” she says. With it, you can also boil eggs and cook your add-ins—ideal if you’d like to multitask. “I get the grains going and then I put my vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens—in the steamer,” Miyasa adds.
3. Get the oven going early in the process
Next, she turns on the oven. “You want to get anything that needs roasting, like sweet potatoes and any type of squash, in there as soon as possible,” Miyasa says. (She sets hers to 400 degrees for everything.)
Then, the meal-prep master chops up veggies and does any stovetop work, like cooking meat. Another underutilized kitchen tool she relies on is her mini muffin tin. (Hello, grab-and-go breakfast frittatas.)
At this point in the process, Miyasa has her Tupperware out and ready—typically eight containers—and as things finish up she starts filling ’em up. “Everything I make is buffet-style, with core ingredients that can be divvied up throughout the week,” she says. That means: quinoa or rice in one container, sweet potato in another, chicken in another, and so on.
4. Add new elements to avoid that leftovers feeling
At the beginning of the week, all that ready-made food probably looks delicious. But by day four? You might be eyeing the takeout menu just to change things up. The struggle is real—Miyasa admits she’s usually used up all of her protein ingredients by Thursday, anyway. “So then I rely on tuna packets, adding them to my rice or salads on those last couple days.”
And about the food you do still have: “The key to keeping meal prep from feeling like leftovers is adding something fresh,” she says. For her, that means avocado, cilantro, scallions, and lemon juice for an instant makeover (cue “Supermodel” as you give your grain bowl the Tai Frasier treatment). “Lemon juice is huge—put it on everything!” Miyasa raves.
And just like that, you’re a meal-prepping master, too.