Updated date:

Meal Preparation for the Time Starved

Sylvia Leong is a former healthcare professional who uses her education and experience as a nutritionist and therapeutic personal trainer.

Meal Prep for the Time Starved

Meal Prep for the Time Starved

You’re late leaving work. Rain sluices down your windshield. High-beams glare in your rear-view mirror. You hold the steering wheel with fingers outstretched to allow the heat from the vents to blow over your hands. You’re cold and exhausted. There’s no supper waiting at home. Meal prep? Are you kidding? You’re too hungry!

Decision Time!

Hmmm … If I order pizza now, I’ll have just enough time to get home and change into my fuzzy pajamas before it’s delivered!

No! I just ate at a restaurant for lunch. I should be cooking dinner when I get home. What about saving for that down payment?

Actually, pizza is pretty inexpensive. Especially considering I can take the leftovers for lunch.

But what about my sister’s wedding? That snooty, slutty, skinny Amanda will definitely be there. I sooo want to show up in my little black dress! Ugh! Pizza is not exactly slimming.

Oh! I almost forgot. That new mini-series with that super-hot guy is on tonight. A double-episode! It starts in like 45 minutes. If I order pizza now, I can be in my pajamas, pizza in one hand, glass of Cabernet in the other, and be in front of the TV when it starts!

Why is it Such a Challenge To Eat Healthy?

Everyone finds it a challenge to eat healthy because:

  • They’ve been making one off dishes — steaming broccoli, boiling peas, and munching on carrot sticks. Boring! Who could stick to eating meals like that?
  • They’re hungry, tired, and pressed for time. This makes it even more difficult to stay motivated to cook.
  • The amount of processed, ready-made food available makes it nearly impossible.

But, what if you could come home and quickly heat up a healthy, delicious, “from-scratch” meal? What if there were healthy, delicious, “from-scratch” meals all ready to take for lunch the next day?

What if you never had to miss another mini-series …

Sylvia Leong, Cottage.in.the.Sky

Sylvia Leong, Cottage.in.the.Sky

The Easy Way to Eat Healthy

The secret is to never make a one-off meal. If you’re going to settle in to cook, then choose one recipe that will last over several meals. If you do this on most days, then you will always have, “food at the ready."

  • Base your daily meals around two servings of fruit and six servings of vegetables. Always include a protein source.
  • Stick to whole, real food. Everything organic, of course.
  • Don’t prepare all these meals at once. It’s better to try to cook one of these most every day.
  • You can still prepare one off meals on the weekend. or when you have extra time.

Schedule your cooking time after you’ve eaten your dinner and watched your mini-series. Nothing here takes more than an hour to prepare. Most takes less time. All will last several days.

Note that this meal prep menu works well for two people. Adjust accordingly.

Here is your circulating real-food menu in detail …

Hard boiled eggs are such a gift.

Hard boiled eggs are such a gift.

Day One: Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are such a gift. Each one is full of protein and comes in its own carrying case. Once a week, hard-boil a dozen eggs to have “at the ready” in your fridge.

  • Eat for breakfast, or a snack.
  • Take for lunch.
  • Slice up over a salad, or on a sandwich.


You can't go wrong with fresh, raw salad.

You can't go wrong with fresh, raw salad.

Day Two: Fresh, Raw Salad

Chop up your choice of non-leafy, raw vegetables in bite sized chunks. Squeeze half a lime or lemon over the mixture, and stir. Pour olive oil over the mixture and stir. The combination of citrus juice and olive oil helps to preserve the salad. It'll stay fresh for at least three days, if not four.

My favourite is Greek Salad:

  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell pepper
  • Onion
  • Olives
  • Citrus juice and olive oil
  • Pepper, herbs, and feta cheese

Nothing can compare to fresh herbs! Keep basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and chives growing on a sunny ledge. Add to your salad just before serving.

A casserole full of vegetables and a protein source is super nutritious.

A casserole full of vegetables and a protein source is super nutritious.

Day Three: A Yummy Casserole

Take any two, or three vegetables, a choice of meat, beans, or nuts, and add spices. Then grate cheese on top, bake, and voila, you have a casserole!

By casserole, I also mean that you could even make a tomato sauce to pour over pasta, a chili, or a stew.

Savoury meat.

Savoury meat.

Day Four: Savoury Meat

Roast up a whole bunch of chicken breasts or thighs. Or a whole chicken. Slow cook a roast beef in your crock-pot. Cook up a ham. Bake a salmon.

Organic, grass fed, pasture raised, free run/range ... make sure your grocery choices check as many boxes as possible.

Add slices to your salad, or over your sandwich.

With the right ingredients, muffins can be healthy.

With the right ingredients, muffins can be healthy.

Day Five: Healthy Muffins

Home made muffins don’t have to be caloric! These Pumpkin spice muffins are delicious and approximately 250 calories each.

  • Have a couple for breakfast.
  • Take one with you for lunch.
  • Eat as a dessert or for a snack.

Store your muffins in a casserole dish with a glass lid so they stay moist.

Cook sweet potatoes, yams, beans, lentils, barley, quinoa, or brown rice to have “at the ready” in your fridge.

Cook sweet potatoes, yams, beans, lentils, barley, quinoa, or brown rice to have “at the ready” in your fridge.

Day Six: Side Dish Selection

  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams.
  • Barley, quinoa, brown rice.
  • Beans, lentils, split peas.

Any of these will make great additions to your mix and match meals.

Once a week, choose two of these to cook. Keep them in a lidded container in your fridge.

Mix and Match Your Meals!

  • Add cubed ham, sliced hard-boiled egg and cheese to the crunchy salad. Call it breakfast!
  • Add chick peas or beans to the crunchy salad.
  • Serve the spicy tomato sauce over cubed potatoes.
  • Serve chili it over quinoa.
  • Spoon any of these meals into a mason jar, screw on the lid, and take for lunch.
Your fridge should look something like this.

Your fridge should look something like this.

Do The Meals Stay Fresh?

Note that the fridge does not look over-crowded. Yet, there is so much to eat!

  • Top shelf: cooked yams and chili (in casserole dishes), and cooked chick peas in a mason jar.
  • Middle shelf: assorted nuts (green container), fresh eggs, hard-boiled eggs (in the crisper), two pieces of cod and two steaks (wrapped in paper).
  • Bottom shelf: pumpkin spice muffins and Greek salad (in casserole dishes), organic milk (glass bottle), olives and left-over tomato sauce.
  • Bottom crispers: fruit and vegetables wrapped in white cloths and dish towels.

Casserole dishes are so handy for prepared food storage. We’ve been using our set of French White Corningware casserole dishes for 20 years! Turn down your fridge to 4°C Celsius or 39°F Fahrenheit and your prepared meals will last up to a week.

PLEASE NOTE: PLASTIC IS NO FRIEND TO YOUR FOOD.

Be creative with your casseroles!

Be creative with your casseroles!

Anything Goes! Be Creative.

I made this casserole with:

  • Left over diced tomatoes
  • Organic ground beef
  • Plenty of spices
  • Steamed fresh broccoli
  • Cooked yams (that were going off)
  • White cheese grated over the top.

When it came out of the oven, it smelled like… yum …pizza!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Sylvia Leong

Related Articles