We’ve all been there: it’s Sunday night, and you have no plans for the coming week’s meals. If it’s a common occurrence, say hello to meal prep. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to meal prep, it’s the best way to answer the number one FAQ of most families: what’s for dinner?

To get into a good meal planning and meal prep groove, first consider your lifestyle, interests and budget by reflecting on these questions:

  • Do you enjoy cooking?
  • What’s more abundant for you: money or time?  
  • How much variety do you like in your meals? 

Regardless of whether you’re on Team DIY, Team Too Busy or somewhere in between, you’re in luck: we’ve broken down a few approaches to help you get started.  

If You Love to Cook…

...And Time Is on Your Side

It’s likely within your reach to prepare tasty and nutritious dinners several nights a week. While cooking is the main event, you’ve also got time to meal plan, make a detailed shopping list, go to the market, etc. You are a unicorn.

To get more mileage out of your home-cooked meals, make tonight’s dinner tomorrow’s lunch. If you roast chicken and vegetables, also wash some greens and whisk up a quick vinaigrette. Voila: you have a delicious and filling salad for the next day’s lunch. Making burritos for dinner? When cleaning up, pack some individual burrito bowls for anyone to grab and go.

While efficiency in the kitchen is great, cooking is also a form of creative expression. To keep things interesting, cook one new recipe per week, feast your way through a continent, or attempt to recreate a favorite restaurant dish. Your love of cooking is a gift; make the most of it by flexing those creativity muscles.

...But You’re Really Busy 

Lots of people enjoy cooking, but work too late or are too tired to get dinner on the table in time. Let’s be real: cooking is time-consuming! This dilemma calls for some discipline and planning. With practice, you’ll go from feeling like you’ll never find the time to meal prep to knocking it out with confidence. 

A weekly meal prep day is the busy cook’s best friend. While this requires devoting precious time off to grocery shop and prep food for the week, it will greatly reduce time spent in the kitchen on weeknights. And you’ll still get to indulge in delicious and nutritious home-cooked meals. 

With a meal prep day approach, you’ll start the week with a fridge full of (mostly) prepared foods: a big batch of grains, a pot of beans, roasted or poached meat, a dozen hard-boiled eggs, washed and chopped fruits and veggies, ready-to-go sauces and lunch-worthy mason jar salads. Come dinner time, reheat heat grains and protein, saute veggies, grab one of the sauces, and you’ll have a tasty meal on the table in minutes. With just a handful of foods, the combinations you can make throughout the week are surprisingly endless! 

If Your Kitchen Gathers Dust…

You aspire to regularly eat healthy and delicious prepared food, but there’s one problem: you don’t like cooking! If you follow the path of least resistance, you might end up ordering unhealthy and expensive takeout several nights per week, but you’re ready to break the habit. When you want to eat healthier meals, what’s a cooking-averse person to do? 

...Thistle to the Rescue

Imagine a wide variety of delicious and nutritious ready-to-eat meals delivered straight to your doorstep. Our in-house R&D culinary team is dedicated to developing a wide variety of plant-forward globally-inspired recipes like Tunisian Lablabi Stew and Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. Your taste buds will never get bored. 

Subscriptions are easy to customize, and you can pause or cancel anytime. Delicious breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks and sides are a click away. Speaking of those sides, some exude meal prep energy—check out our take on mason jar salads

What else sets us apart from other food delivery services? Our meals simply need reheated. There’s no recipe to follow, no cooking or prep to do, and minimal mess. For every meal, your kitchen will remain relatively untouched! Also, unlike meal kits you cook yourself, where almost every ingredient is individually packaged, our packaging is minimal and 100% recyclable, with goals to make it even more earth-friendly.  

Even for cooking enthusiasts, Thistle is a great resource. A new baby, a new job, an injury or a move can put meal prep out of reach for a season. And that’s OK! When your best laid meal plans can’t happen, we’re here to help.

Everybody’s busy, and everybody wants to eat as healthy as possible. By taking your lifestyle, budget and interests into account, you can determine which combination of hands-on meal prep and outsourcing works for you. And then you’ll know what’s for dinner.

Jan 10, 2020