So National Novel Writing Month is approaching, and approaching fast. The thing that will be on most people’s minds is finding the extra time to get all of the writing done. Now, if you already have all the time you need for this writing adventure planned and set aside, this may not be the most beneficial post for you. But, if you work, have a family, or generally worried that you wont be able to write as much as you want/need; this post may have something to help.
Meal prepping is taking planning to another level; a lot of people plan out meals during stressful times (NaNo can be classified as stressful!) however meal prepping is not only deciding what you will eat during the set time, but also preparing either the whole meal or elements of the meal. There are different levels of meal prep, from having the complete meal ready to just reheat and picking them up, to just cutting veggies, seasoning meats… etc.
Here’s the thing, when meal time comes around you can either spend half-hour to an hour cooking; or, you could take two-minutes to shove the contents of a prepped meal into a pot/ casserole dish/ slow cooker, and get back to writing. This is excellent if you have a family to cook for, because you could prepare the meals all at once (for say a week) and then not worry when you hear murmurs of ‘when’s lunch’ lunch echoing through the house.
There is another benefit of preparing your meals ahead of time, you produce less waste but also save yourself money by not having to keep buying replacements for food you would have thrown away.
What I do to meal prep…
I meal prep for a week in advance, but I don’t prep every meal; only the evening meal. This is because breakfast and dinner are generally quick grab items, but I like a full meal at the end of the day.
I always start by picking out two meals that I can happily eat everyday; this usually consists of a casserole and a pasta based dish. I pick two meals because I can generally get four meals out of a casserole and three from a pasta dish (I don’t have much self-control around pasta!). Then I buy my ingredients and spend a few hours cooking both meals (okay, I do both at the same time with a little planning, so it only takes about an hour). Once the food is cooked, I portion it using the foil tins and either pop them in the fridge or freezer (I’d recommend freezing if you are preparing for more than a few days!).
Then each morning (if they are in the freezer, skip this step if they aren’t) I just pull out the portion for my evening meal and leave it to defrost while I get on with my writing. Then I pause around half-hour before my set eating time and bung it in the oven. I get back to writing while it heats through, and voila! I have a hot, healthy meal that (I rather lazily) can eat straight out of the foil tin so I don’t even need to wash up.
*Note: Although I do meal prep almost all year, it’s only during NaNo that I go as far as eating out of the foil; and I do tend to add additional vegetables to the meal (like steamed broccoli!). But during NaNo, the additional elements tend to be overlooked for precious keyboard tapping minutes.
I am putting this up a little early, mainly because I do recommend attempting it at least once before NaNo, that way you will know if you like it (some people really do not like eating food that has been reheated!). And it gives you the practice not to be as stressed if you are preparing during NaNo. For me, I will be prepping two weeks of meals at a time; so hopefully I will only need to prep once during NaNo itself.
Do you have any food-related, time saving tips?
Best of luck my friends,