How to prep for the work week

Many of you have expressed interest in a post dedicated to how I prep for the week.  I have been reluctant to do this (read: lazy) because, quite frankly, it’s a ton of work…taking pictures throughout the process would only add on extra time…and that’s not even including the posting part. 

Today, however, I felt inspired.  Here’s a brief look at my process of getting things organized. 

Goals:

This can seem overwhelming, but I promise once I get going, it’s like a therapeutic routine for me.  Soothing almost.  Of course this isn’t a strict outline, but it’s pretty close to the same thing I do before each group of shifts. 

I generally try to make at least one grain in bulk (brown rice, quinoa, couscous, whatever).  I also like having tons of veggies prepped in any form, whether it’s chopped bell peppers, sliced carrots and celery, roasted squash, or baked potatoes, I just want options that don’t take any time to throw together for work or at the end of the day.  I always make sure I’m completely stoked in dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots) and raw nuts (almonds, cashews) for home-made trail mixes.  And oats, well, oats are a given. 

Ready?

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Celery & bell peppers (I buy those huge bags of Costco’s mini bell peppers)

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Still working my way through this box…slowly but surely.

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Round one

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Parsnips, carrots, butternut squash

Round two

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Sweet potato rounds

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Turned into sweet potato “chips”

Round three

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Parsnips, butternut squash, and fingerling potatoes

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Bronzed to perfection

Next up…

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The ‘fu

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This block pressed as I did the other stuff (including eating lunch).

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I used my tofu Xpress, but you could probably get by with the old fashioned towel/heavy book technique.

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I have a few different ways I make tofu, but I pretty much go with a simple (neutral) recipe because that way I can use it in whatever dish I want throughout the week.

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Sometimes I have specific recipes in mind and I’ll get creative, but that’s usually reserved for non-work days/nights.

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This week was an exception and I happened to make TWO different batches of tofu.

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One with Bragg’s and EVOO only (neutral).

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And another with cornmeal and shredded coconut.

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These required different cook times, so they were done separately.

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If you want a more detailed post about making/baking tofu gimme a holler, but for now I’ll leave it at that.

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Meanwhile, I made quinoa with the help of the rice cooker.

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As for the miscellaneous…

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  • Home-made hummus (a given)
  • Butternut puree
  • Spinach/kale salad
  • Celery (prepped for an upcoming dish)
  • Roasted seeds (below)

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And last, but not least…

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A future dish in the works.

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Any questions? 

Next tutorial will be on how to pack a non-boring lunch for work that will satisfy your taste buds and make your coworkers jealous.  Stay tuned :)

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go pack my lunch for tomorrow. 

Hmmmm…What shall I make?

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Comments (42)

  1. Emily @OneSweetVegan

    Thanks for showing us what you go through to get ready for the week! :-)

  2. Jennifer

    I’m totally going to start doing this for school lunches. I wonder if I will be able to when I start university next year. . . I hope so.

  3. Maryann

    This is awesome. I need to get in the habit of making bulk veggies and grains as well..it would make things during the week so much easier!

  4. movesnmunchies

    wow girl! you are organizedd- great tips!

  5. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)

    “it’s a ton of work…taking pictures throughout the process would only add on extra time…and that’s not even including the posting part. “—

    THANKS for doing this, Elise! I know it’s a ton of work to take pics of any step by step process.

    Seeing all those tupperwares in your fridge just makes me happy FOR YOU..as every tupperware i see is one less dollar the WF’s hot bar is gonna get :)

  6. Theresa

    Yes! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who’s compulsive about prepping for the week. I get comments about how people only wish they had the time, but I find that it saves both time AND money in the long run.

    On Sunday mornings, my husband goes to church, and I go to the kitchen to chop and roast and make tortillas. :)

  7. Libby

    this is so awesome!!!!! i was already planning to do a bulk grain/veggie prep this weekend because of you, and now with this step-by-step post i’m even more inspired. i have a couple questions for you:

    1. could you tell me how much bragg’s liquid aminos and olive olive you used for the neutral tofu marinade?
    2. at what temperature and for how long do you bake the tofu?
    3. i’ve never cooked quinoa in my rice cooker. i always do 2 parts water, 1 part quinoa when i cook it on the stove…is that what you do in the cooker as well? does it automatically know when the quinoa is done and shut off?

    thanks again for the food inspiration. i can’t wait to get all prepped for the week with my yummy veggies and grains!

  8. elise

    1. i use enough marinade enough to coat it. i let the tofu bath in the mixture (about a 50/50 ratio) for a few minutes until it looks like it’s soaked up all it is going to. its like a sponge, so once it hits its fullest capacity, the rest will just stay unabsorbed. sometimes i have leftover marinade, sometimes not. 2. for the neutral tofu i cooked it on 350 for 10 minutes then flipped them for another 5-7 minutes. keep your eye on them because it depends on you oven and where the rack is, etc. the coconut/cornbread covered tofu takes longer. also slabs (vs cubes) take longer to bake. 3. i use the same ratio. my cooker still knows when to shut off

  9. rebecca lustig

    LOVE the coconut/cornbread idea, looks so interesting and delicious

    i’m exhausted after just looking at all you’ve done. i need to step up my game

  10. Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty

    wow girl, you are organized! ha :) I can’t imagine doing all that work every week!! But I’m sure it comes in handy!!

  11. Rachel

    Lurker here. I love this post. Prepping all this stuff in advance instead of chopping veggies almost every day sure would make my life easier.

    I love that the next tutorial is taking all these pieces and making non-boring lunches.

    I would also love a ‘different types of baked tofu’ tutorial.

    I’m all over the veggies and grains, but sometimes my tofu is just terrible. I need to up my tofu game.

  12. Salah

    a great post!!!! You can come prep for my work week if you want!lol

  13. Laurab @ foodsnobstl

    Wow you are really organized. Wish I had my stuff together like that each week!

  14. cbrady3

    Totally wish I had the dedication to do that much prep work. Do you ever get sick of eating the same thing though? What if you are all of a sudden craving something!

    Maybe having it easily ready is way more valuable than squashing a random craving.

  15. Katie

    Yes! I love this post! I’m always envious of your work-day eats – as there is NOTHING I ever want to do less than pack a lunch for the next day when all I really want to do is go to bed. So usually my lunches suck. I’m going to try to do this weekend-prep thing and see how it goes.

  16. Stacey

    Wow, you are so organised. I really need to get into the habit of cooking grains in bulk and chopping a ton of veg for lunches. It would save so much time during the week to just be able to throw things together.

  17. bekee

    elise, it looks like i have the same rice cooker as you… which setting do you use? white or brown? thanks for putting this up!

  18. Theresa @ This is my Hungry Face

    I love this post! I’m not working right now, but I was adamant about prepping for the week when I was– it saves money and time when you get into the routine!

  19. kissmybroccoli

    I love doing this on Sunday’s for my week’s worth of lunches. Sometimes I’ll make a big pot of stew or (as a meat-eater) I’ll bake 5-6 chicken breasts all sprinkled with a different seasoning. I love the idea of coating the tofu in cornmeal and coconut…neve thought of that combo before!

    Last night I got a little carried away roasting veggies, but I love it! You can do just about anything with them…make a meal out of it, use as a side, or toss in a salad! Love salads topped with roasted veggies!

  20. Casey

    My class schedule is so top-sided I need to become better at lunch packing.
    Usually I just make an extra serve for dinner so I can have leftovers the next day.
    Those ziploc bento boxes are a lifesaver!

  21. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine

    Dang girl, you’ve got it down pat!! Love the productivity in this post. Makes me want to go make some hummus!!

  22. julie

    listen if you need assistance in working your way through that bnut box well i’m your man..or woman…

  23. annecalista

    This is inspiring! I need to get back on track with planning ahead for the week’s meals. Right now I’m spoiled and get to eat for free at work (I work at a cafe) and they have awesome fresh, local food.

  24. Natalie (First Kitchen)

    That’s basically what I do too! Roasted veg, quinoa, and a apple cider vinegar/tahini/tamari dressing. I don’t do tofu though, but I should start. The coconut tofu sounds great.

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  26. Holly

    you are a beast.

    i wish i had it this together. instead, i just end up money i don’t need to spend on eating out. turns out, i could take a hint or two from my hippie friend.

    love youuuuuuu

  27. janetha

    can i hire you? actually, you have no choice. you’ve got the job. you start sunday.

  28. elise

    hahahaha. thanks?

  29. Katie

    I try to do this every week… usually get one or two of those items crossed off, but somehow I always end up with too much of one thing (that goes bad) and not enough of everything else. Thanks for your tips!

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  38. Kim

    How well do the veggies and prepped grains hold up? For the whole week or a few days? Love your organization and planning. You are my idol :)

  39. Elise (Post author)

    aww – thanks kim!
    the grains could last forever, although mine never make it longer than a week. you could always freeze them though before they go bad.
    once chopped the veggies have a week shelf life id say…some longer than others. for instance, exposed bell pepper flesh gets slimy after a while. sometimes you can just wash it and its fine, but other times not so much. im kinda frugal when it comes to these things and id prefer to kill any bad stuff off my cooking it or removing just the bad part.
    i dont buy the huge family sized tubs of spinach anymore though because they kept getting soggy and gross before i could finish them. another fyi, is lettuce keeps fresh longer when you give it some breathing room so i always leave the bags open in the crisper drawer.
    hope that helps!

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  41. Kelly Andrews

    How do you make sweet potatoe chips?

  42. Elise (Post author)

    roast them or bake them, thinly sliced with oil and salt coated.

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