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Meal Prep 101: “You will spend 30 minutes or less in the kitchen each night—that’s a promise!”

The idea is simple: during the weekend, set aside about 2 hours all at once for cooking an entire week’s worth of meals.


If, like me, you are a fan of all things homemade, and you try to avoid all commercially made foods, but at the same time your workdays are so full you have neither the time nor the energy during the week to cook . . .


If, like me, you try to offer your family healthy and balanced meals that appeal to both adults and kids . . .


If, like me, you find that ordering takeout or delivery leaves a large hole in your food budget . . .


And, if the question “What’s for dinner?” each night from your family has become your weekly obsession . . .

then you will love the cooking method presented in this book, a method often referred to as “batch cooking” or “the meal-prep method,” consisting of preparing meals in advance for every night of the week!


Ever since I discovered this method, I save money and eat a balanced diet, all while freeing up my weeknights to enjoy more time with my family and eliminating the stress caused from having to plan and prepare a meal each night.  On weekends, this method takes about 2 hours of my time to peel, cut, marinate, and cook several dishes at once. Then, during the week, I just either reheat, assemble, or finish the meal with some quick final steps—and dinner is ready!  Several of my friends have tried this approach and they love it. And I’m convinced once you try it, you’ll love it, too!


These questions each night are familiar to many of us: “What am I going to make for dinner?” “Do I have what I need in the fridge?” “How will I be able to cook a delicious and healthy meal and spend time with the kids, give them their baths, help them with homework, etc.?”

When we feel overwhelmed with the answers to these questions, we often end up giving in to what’s easiest: just boiling some pasta, or heating a frozen prepackaged dinner, or opting for delivery—all of which are less healthy and less economical choices.


But by adopting a different approach to organizing your meals and cooking, it is possible to alleviate the stress of making dinner each night for your family. The idea is simple: during the weekend, set aside about 2 hours all at once for cooking an entire week’s worth of meals. In Cook When You Can, Eat When You Want, we have laid out for you 16 varied and balanced menus, grouped by the seasons. The menus are designed to feed a family of 4, with enough in quantity to feed 2 adults and 2 teenagers. If you have small children, or if you are only 3 people, you can take the leftovers to the office the next day to enjoy as lunch.


Each menu has 7 recipes: 5 entrées and 2 appetizers (for evenings when the entrées are lighter). We chose not to include desserts because most of us simply eat a piece of fruit or perhaps some ice cream after dinner; and many of us like to leave our sweeter indulgences for the weekends.

With this method, Monday to Friday, you no longer have to worry about what to make for dinner or have to do last-minute shopping, and you will spend 30 minutes or less in the kitchen each night—that’s a promise!


Ready to Cook When You Can, Eat When You Want?  Check out this easy list of cooking, storing, and staple ingredients essentials to speed you on your way.


Caroline Pessin is both a food writer and stylist; she lives in France.