6 steps to prep for a healthy week

My strategy for easy & healthy make-ahead meals.

6 steps to prep for a healthy week / loveandlemons.com

Here’s a little guide to how I like to plan for meals throughout the week. I don’t do a bunch of heavy weekend batch cooking, but I DO like to prep just a few basics that can be worked into versatile meals throughout the week. If I spend just a little time, I find that I can set myself up for a healthy week ahead.

And because chopping vegetables in silence is no fun, I’m partnering with Audible to share a few of my favorite foodie “reads” that I like to listen to while I work. I love how easy their app is to use – check it out for yourself and download a free book as part of their free 1-month trial offer.

6 steps to prep for a healthy week / loveandlemons.com

This plan changes by season, but this is what my basic summertime prep looks like. Store everything in air-tight containers in the fridge:

1. Clean & massage a big bunch of kale. I like to eat kale salads for lunch, but I hate to stop in the middle of my work day to make one. Having the kale prepped ahead of time makes these salads easy to throw together.

Wash and dry a big bunch of kale. Remove the leaves by holding the stem with one hand and stripping the leaf with your other hand. Place the kale in a large bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and a good squeeze of lemon. Use your hands to massage the leaves together until they’re soft and wilted. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. (Tip: save the kale stems for pesto or soup – I also like to chop them and feed them to my dogs).

6 steps to prep for a healthy week / loveandlemons.com

2. Pre-chop some seasonal produce. This changes by season (for example, in the fall, I’ll pre-roast sweet potatoes), but current selection is corn, cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, red peppers and scallions. These veggies are great on my lunch salad (especially with avocado, chopped peaches and hemp seeds). Work them into dinners by tossing them with pasta or serving next to grilled fish with generous scoops of a good sauce…which brings me to item #3:

3. Make a good sauce. Put it on everything all week: your salads, sandwiches, grain bowls, etc. Toss with pasta or scoop onto whatever you’re grilling. This one is a creamy (vegan) basil jalapeño sauce made with hemp seeds. (Scroll down for the recipe!).

6 steps to prep for a healthy week / loveandlemons.com

3. Pre-cook a grain. I like to have cooked quinoa on hand for grain bowls. If you have extra at the end of the week make these cookies.

6 steps to prep for a healthy week / loveandlemons.com

4. Make a soup that’ll last the week. I love soup-prep because soups always taste better on the second day and they keep well all week. This time I went with this Watermelon Gazpacho because it’s so refreshing on hot summer days. I also strategically used many of the ingredients that I chopped up there in item #2 and I cut up extra watermelon to have on hand for mid-day snacks.

6 steps to prep for a healthy week / loveandlemons.com

5. Listen to a great book while you work! Currently, I’m listening to Michael Pollen’s Cooked (which is sort of ironic because this particular prep-session is entirely raw, but I digress). His previous book, In Defense of Food, was one of the reads that inspired my love for eating real, unprocessed, whole foods. His quote: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” has really stuck with me. I love listening to these books while cooking because they remind me why I love what I do so much.

6 steps to prep for a healthy week / loveandlemons.com

These are some other foodie books that I love:
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The Third Plate by Dan Barber
32 yolks by Eric Ripert
Stir by Jessica Fechtor

If you have favorites, please recommend them to me in the comments! And don’t forget to download your first audio book for free as part of Audible’s 30 day trial offer. 

5.0 from 1 reviews

6 steps to prep for a healthy week

Basil Jalapeño Sauce:
  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ jalapeño (less if you’re sensitive to spice)
  • ¼ teaspoon maple syrup or honey, optional
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to cook quinoa:
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1¾ cups water
  1. For the sauce: Combine the hemp seeds, water, olive oil,garlic, basil, lime juice, and jalapeño with a few generous pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding the maple syrup (or honey) if the flavor is too tart. Add more sea salt, to taste. Store in the fridge for up to about 4 days.
  2. For the quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and water in a large pot and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and let it sit covered 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork. Allow the quinoa to cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.

This post is in partnership with Audible. All opinions & recommendations are my own.


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. YoGabbiGabba

    How long will the kale last after massaging with lemon juice?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      about 3 to 4 days. It’s such a sturdy green, it keeps well in the fridge.

  2. Evelyn

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips! As a new mom who is trying to throw together fresh, healthy meals for me and my husband, these are awesome ideas for saving time and stress. Weeknight dinner is about to step it up a notch.

  3. krem

    I love “An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace” by Tamar Adler, it’s beautifully written and gently inspiring.

  4. Lucy

    I really need to get into food prep; your prep is so fresh and summery. I’ve just bought some kale too so will follow your tips!
    Life inside the Locket

  5. I love how beautifully composed your prep list and photos are, Jeanine. This is an awesome post. I do similar prep (and recommend to clients) but it’s so nice to read your perspective and feel affirmed that these are in fact the keys to making weekday cooking more manageable.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      thank you Katie!

  6. Niya from bellewether.me

    This simple plan won me over, especially the sauce! It can get a bit boring if you’re constantly crunching through raw veggies, but like you say, the sauce can make everything more versatile. I’ll try and do this for the coming week 🙂

  7. I really love Michael Pollan’s books – and the Third Plate is one of my all-time favorites. So well written and informative, and addresses so many important issues. Love these tips!!

  8. Phyllis

    How much does the Basil Jalapeño Sauce recipe make? Sounds delish!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Phyllis – about 1 cup

  9. Sandra

    I read The Chain by Ted Genoways last year and just finished The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball, The Meat Racket by Christopher Leonard and Pig Tales by Barry Estabrook. Still on my list are A Revolution in Eating by McWilliams and The Ethics of What We Eat. The meat related ones are fascinating even if you are vegan because they reveal a host of issues most people (or, me, anyway) are unaware of. I am doing a research project on the meat industry as part of the UW masters in sustainability program. Fascinating stuff and your blog has helped in my goals of eating more sustainably, so thanks! 😀

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Thank you, Sandra, I’ll have to check out some of these!

  10. Such great recommendations! I will definitely add some of these to my Sunday prep routine 🙂

    • Rachel

      I second this recommendation. It is excellent!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      thanks Melissa!

  11. Thanks for the tips! I try to meal prep somewhat at the beginning of the week, but it’s so easy to slack and get off track. Good reminders 🙂

  12. Andrea

    Love this post! So fresh, so healthy, and so easy. What recipe do you use for the tomato-watermelon gazpacho?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m posting the recipe on Monday 🙂

  13. Amy from yankified.com

    I’ve just started meal prepping again after a couple of months off and I love how you’ve done it. I completely overlooked soup

    Amy | http://www.yankified.com

  14. Karmakazi

    Reading Stir was tough. Courageous amazing woman.

    • Karmakazi

      And btw, going to try to implement all of this tomorrow for the upcoming week. Thank you! Love your book!

      • Jeanine Donofrio

        thank you!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.