Meal Plans and food prep doesn’t look the same every season – especially the summer months when none of us want to heat up the house more than we have to, stand for hours at the stove or spend time cleaning the kitchen up when everyone is running around the backyard and enjoying the longer days outdoors.
Planning your meals around the fresh produce that is abundant and foods that are amazing right off the grill helps to reduce food waste, time cooking and preparing and limits kitchen clean-up. Read more tips below for making meal plans and food prep a breeze, whether it’s a regular weeknight or a weekend outdoor party and the weather is calling your name.
Batch cook grains once a week –
Grains like quinoa, farro and barley are a fantastic base for so many salads and bowls. You can use them throughout the week in any meal, just by adding a few fridge or grilled ingredients along the way. See some ideas below:
- Quinoa Yogurt Parfaits – suggested recipe from Katie Biegel/The Kitchen here
- Quinoa, Corn and Avocado Salad – suggested recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking here
- Farro, Chicken and Corn Salad – suggested recipe from Cooking Classy here
- Farro Salad – suggested recipe from Gimme Some Oven here
- Barley Salad – suggested recipe from Geoffrey Zakarian/The Kitchen here
Batch grill produce a few nights a week –
Bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onions, potatoes, broccoli/broccolini, just to name a few – can ALL be grilled in larger quantities to use one night, and then repurposed throughout the following few days. If you don’t have a grill, you can also roast the same vegetables at a high heat (400 or so) instead. Grilling just keeps the heat outside. Ideas below!
- Bell peppers and onions, tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder make great fajitas for one night, and can then be used for paninis, salads and grilled nachos later in the week. Try a few suggested recipes below!
- Zucchini and eggplant are quick and easy to grill, seasoned with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano. Use them as a side dish for your main course, chill them and use them as a pinwheel wrap or add to a roasted vegetable panini for lunch. A few options are linked below:
- Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes make a great side when grilled fresh, and can also be cut up and used in potato salad or part of a grain bowl later in the week. Check out a few options below:
Batch grill chicken, seafood, fish and steak a few nights a week –
Grilling chicken in double batches means fresh marinated/seasoned chicken for dinner one night, and using leftovers for salads, bowls, sandwiches and more later in the week. Same for steak, seafood, fish and pork. Grilled fish is fantastic on fresh salads the next day (fish should be eaten within 24 hours of cooking for best flavor). Grilled seafood is a great chilled appetizer the next day. Grilled steak – a fun change of pace for your panini or salad the following day, or as a topping for nachos. Remember to freeze your meats with marinades mixed in so that they marinate while defrosting, saving time. Or – I highly recommend the What’s Gaby Cooking line of spices at Williams-Sonoma. Some recipes to try when batch grilling below:
- Teriyaki Chicken marinade from Cooking Classy
- Chicken Shawarma from What’s Gaby Cooking
- Grilled Salmon from RecipeTins
- Grilled shrimp from Rachael Ray and the Food Network
Green Salads, Mix-Ins and Dressings –
Prepping all of your salad elements when you bring your groceries home or on your larger prep day each week means you can pull the containers out, put together a salad and move on with your afternoon. Remember all of the protein you’ve grilled throughout the week? That’s an easy add-on for a boost of flavor and protein. How to make salad assembly easy:
- Chop all your lettuces, rinse and place in a bag or container with a dry paper towel to capture any remaining moisture
- Slice and chop onions and place in a small container
- Cut fresh corn off the cob or defrost frozen corn in the refrigerator
- Toast and chop raw nuts and store in an airtight container
- Shred and crumble any cheeses
- Prep dressings and store in mason jars in the fridge
- Shred radishes, carrots, zucchini, etc. and store in separate containers
- Chop celery, jicama, etc. and stoere in separate containers
Salads can be mundane if you eat the same salad each day, but with multiple ingredients and dressing options each week, you can keep things interesting and try different taste profiles. A few salad recipes and dressing ideas below:
- California Cobb Salad from What’s Gaby Cooking
- Greek Salad from Jeff Mauro and the Food Network
- Quinoa Cobb Salad from Katie Biegel and the Food Network
Other Salads –
Cook and chill salads such as chicken salad, egg salad, pasta salad, potato salad, etc. are great weekend prep to eat throughout the week, combining with some of the options above as well. These types of salads can be a meal on their own or a side dish for one of the nights you grill, or mixed into one of the grain bowls, green salads, etc. Try a few of the recipes below for cool, refreshing meals or sides when the summer temps start to rise:
- Greek Pasta Salad from What’s Gaby Cooking
- Chicken Salad Veronique from Ina Garten and the Food Network
- Egg Salad from Ellie Krieger and the Food Network
- Pasta Salad from Cooking Classy
Keep me posted on some of your summer favorites, and if you use any of these tips, let me know how they work for you! I know we’ll all get new ideas throughout the season, so I may consider this Part 1, and share more tips, recipes and recommendations as summer ramps up.
If you have any questions, or need any additional guidance as you continue your meal planning and food prep journey, commend below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more recipe ideas! I look forward to connecting with everyone again tomorrow!