Good weather, longer days, and a more consistent fitness routine get us all excited to stay on point with our meal planning. If you and your friends, family, or partner are all on the same page to crush your meal planning game, why not do it together? With a little bit of organization, you can create a fun event to spend more time with loved ones, feel supported in the goals you’re working on, and best of all – save time and money on meals for the week!
Monthly Meal Prep Party!
Get it Started
Who’s down and available for a 2-3 hour food fest? Create a group text or Facebook message to nail down the most ideal date and time for all. It might be a good idea to start a Google doc to work on together to share ideas and delegate.
Location, location, location.
Who has the most space, and the most cooking utensils? Consider you’ll likely need 2-3 cutting boards and chef knives, an oven and large roasting sheet, a crockpot, and a large, deep sauté pan with sides and a cover. You’ll also need a large pot with a cover for batch pasta if that’s on the menu. Work out whether anything may need to be brought over in terms of cooking items.
Fun stuff first, to get excited about cooking for 3 hours straight: will there be drinks? A store-prepped fresh fruit plate or some hummus, veg, olives and crackers to snack on while you work? Entertainment: can everyone agree on a show to throw onto a laptop or iPad, a podcast marathon, or a music playlist? Fun aprons? Whatever you decide, make sure you delegate who’s doing what at the end of the convo or it’ll be lost to a long scroll up that will disappear forever.
Plan on 2 dinner meals, 2 easy-assemble lunch meals, 1-2 breakfast meals, and 1-2 snacks for 5 work days. That’s 5-6 recipes. You’ll need:
– A one-pan roast in the oven,
– A one-pan stir-fry/sauté on the stove top,
– A slow cooker/crockpot meal,
– 2-3 easy-assemble meals (2 lunch, 1 breakfast), and
– 1-2 easy-assemble snacks.
You might decide to do steel cut oats in a crockpot, so your two dinner meals will need to be stove top saute and oven roast. Or you might decide to do a tofu scramble for breakfast on the stove top, so your two dinner meals are in the crockpot and the oven. If you decide to go with baked egg omelette breakfast sandwiches, you’ll need dinner recipes for the crockpot and on the stove top. You get the picture.
Easy cold lunches might be salads topped with hummus or tabbouleh and a side of whole wheat pita, or shredded chicken off a fully cooked rotisserie and mixed with a low-fat chipotle mayo, avocado dressing, or barbeque sauce. You could do a cold whole wheat pasta salad loaded with fresh veggies, beans, and topped with goat or feta cheese. Check out snack box recipes, trail mixes, or energy bites for snacks.
Check out Pinterest, Food Network, New York Times, your favorite blogs, or Buzzfeed Tasty’s meal prep video series for ideas.
Since you’ll be swapping servings, try to make sure everyone finds recipes they agree on, or substitutes can be easily made. Put them all in one place (like the aforementioned Google Doc) for easy grocery list making.
Shopping list and purchase.
Plan to budget $50 per person (for 3 meals and 1-2 snacks per workday that breaks out to about $3.00 per meal – eat that, Sweet Green!) This is best left as a one-person job, so that nothing is missed and nothing is double-purchased. Plan 30-40 minutes to compile the ingredients lists of the recipes, and multiply the servings as required for each recipe. If there are 2 of you and you’re making a typical overnight oats recipe which provides 4 servings, that’s 2 mornings for each of you. You’re either going to need to double the recipe, or plan to make 6 servings of another quick breakfast like smoothie packs or yogurt parfaits. Consider using an online service to deliver right to the place of the party on the day before. Peapod, Walmart, and Amazon Prime Pantry are all grocery delivery services you can place online orders with. If that’s not an option, plan for one of you to do the shopping the day of (Venmo is an easy breezy way to square things financially after all is said and done).
Last piece of logistics: food storage.
Ideally, everyone is walking out of this party with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and 1-2 snacks for 5 workdays. Plan your food storage accordingly, and whether that might be an additional group purchase/delivery add-on. Tupperware, foil for wrapping sandwiches, gallon and snack-sized plastic bags, etc. Talk it through and decide if it’ll be a group purchase or everyone will bring their own. Make sure everyone brings reusable shopping bags to carry it all!
Crank it Out!
Set the stage.
Party favors first! Put on the music, set out snacks, pour a drink, and have a chat while everyone unpacks and organizes the groceries. I also recommend deciding on an easy meal to order in or enjoying that quick one from the grocery trip.
Set the stations.
At minimum, plan to have one place for prepping raw fruits/veggies, one for cold meal assembly, and one for serving finished meals into containers. Ideally, there is a clean-up station also ready to go, free of dishes to start out so that everyone can keep things clean as they go along. You may find you need to use tools more than once so ideally being able to run to the sink quickly will keep things moving at a good pace.
Longest cooking time gets set up first.
Pre-heat your oven based on your pan roast recipe before doing anything. After that, your first priority is setting up the crockpot. Next, get your oven meal prepped and in. Set timers for those, and use their cooking time to bang out your stove top sautés or boiling pasta. One can be manning the stove while the other puts together the snacks and cold lunch meals.
Don’t stop before it’s done!
Cleaning counts – do it together and it’ll take half the time.
Keep it Going
Was meal prep a success for that week? Make sure you let your fellow meal preppers know – talk about your favorite recipes from what you made together, what went well, and what you’re planning for your solo meal prep sessions for the rest of the month. If everyone loved it, you have yourself a monthly party!
Consider starting a calendar or weekly meal journal to keep track of the snacks and recipes you’ve made. It’ll be fun to see how much you’ve accomplished together and it’ll give you ideas to look back on and try again when you’re in need of inspiration. You can also consider theme nights or plan to include at least one comfort food recipe, or at least one new one no one’s made before. Plan to do something around the holidays if everyone has an event they need to bring something to, or start a new holiday tradition (like vegetarian meal prep to celebrate Earth Day).
Share your videos, recipes, and pics on social media to convince other friends to join you. Building a community around meal planning will take a long, difficult process for one person and turn it into a social event everyone is looking forward to!