How to Cook Once and Eat Clean All Week

It's easier than you think!

Pair our mac and cheese with a side of these tasty veggies!

Think it’s impossible to cook once and eat clean all week? Not only is it possible, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually really easy, too! I have been following this plan for a few months now, and I have to say, I’m in love. Cooking once not only frees up my time on the weeknights, but it also means I’m spending less time at the grocery store. Shop once and I’m done!

I wanted to share a few of my secrets with you so you can cook once and eat clean all week, too.

1. Menu Plan and Grocery Shop for the Week

If you’re not a planner, this might be challenging at first, but I promise it will be worth it. Every Saturday, my husband and I talk about what we want to eat for the week. We might do it while watching TV in the evening or while running errands earlier in the day.

No matter when it happens, I make sure we meal plan each and every week. It doesn’t have to be a big production – you can multi-task and do it while working on other things. Then, when you have time, write the plan down so you have a reference later in the week. I always forget what we decided if I don’t write it down!

2. Go Grocery Shopping

Once you know what you’ll eat every day, you can make a grocery list for the week. The list is really important so you won’t get derailed when you walk into the store. Ignore all the deals and specials and stick to the list. Make sure you’ve included all of your ingredients and some extra fruits and vegetables to have around for snacks.

Before I go shopping, I always like to do a quick walkthrough of the kitchen. I always forget to check to see how much salt, oil, and spices I have on hand. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to cook and realize you’re out of a pantry staple!

3. Make Sure You Have Lots of Storage Containers

If you’re going to cook once, you also need to put all of that cooked food somewhere. It doesn’t do you too much good to keep it all in casserole dishes – that will take up lots of space in the refrigerator! Invest in some good storage containers that you like (I love this Snapware 24-piece airtight storage set). If you prefer, you can also store things in mason jars or Ziploc bags.

4. Get Cooking

My favorite time to do the week’s cooking is on Sunday afternoon. My schedule is free, I’m rested from my day-off on Saturday, and I’m ready to do some cooking. It’s most fun when my husband joins me in the kitchen, so turn on some tunes and try to convince your family to help you!

You’ll want to start with the recipes that take the most time. This way they can simmer happily away in the background while you chop things for the next recipe. Think about your oven and your range space, too. You don’t want to cook two sheet pan dinners (like Skinny Chicken and Roasted Potato Bowl and Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms) at the same time if you only have room for one.

5. Package it up

Once everything is cooked, let it cool down, uncovered, before you package and cover it up. You’ll want to make sure you let the steam escape so it cools down within a safe period of time. It can be hard to find fridge space for all of the cooling food, so sometimes I’ll stagger the cooling process, too.

I like to put lunch meals in individual containers so they’re easy to grab-and-go. I keep everything else in a size that makes it easy to reheat when I need it. I’ll even put some things in the freezer if they’re for later in the week. Set yourself a reminder to pull them out and thaw so you don’t forget!

Now that you’re a meal prepping pro, check out our Facebook and Pinterest pages for our best clean-eating recipes. You can also sign up for our newsletter here, and we’ll send our latest clean-eating posts right to your inbox!

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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

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