9 Tips Straight From Chefs Who Meal Prep For A Living

Not all of us were born to be meal-prepping masterminds. For some of us (okay most of us), Sundays are for sleeping. And meal prep? That's where The Culinistas come in. Founded by Jill Donenfeld and Tiana Tenet, the Culinistas is a private chef service that is essentially Lyft for homemade meals. Instead of someone driving you to the airport, you get a talented chef that grocery shops, comes to your home, preps, and cooks your meals for the week. The service brings together skilled chefs who customise the meals to your liking, revolutionising the meal prepping game.

Since the service is currently only offered in New York, we asked the pros to bless us with a few shopping tips: tips that even the sleepiest, most minimal of culinary masterminds could use on their own to easily take portioning and packing skills to new heights. (Cue dramatic movie trailer music.) Now that is something worth getting out of bed for this weekend.

And fortunately, we've got just that kind of fire food guide ahead. Scroll on for the ten ways in which you can step up your own prepping games (no professional chef required) straight from chefs who meal prep for a living (literally). These tips will set you up for a week of homemade meal success — while still being able to hit that snooze button on Sunday.

Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
You already carried that 4-pound squash up two flights of stairs, so why only use half? When buying big, bulky vegetables (like a head of cauliflower or kabocha squash) use them all up in multiple recipes throughout the week.

One idea is to use a veggie as both the dip and the crudité. Choose a few other favourite crudité options like peppers, broccoli and radishes, then turn any extras into sides like roasted radishes or charred broccoli. Roasted peppers can also be blended into a rich sauce to pour over a grain bowl for lunch.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Limit waste and save your budget by bulk-buying dry goods and choosing fresh produce and protein options piece-by-piece.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Find your local spice shop and stock up on everything from onion powder to urfa. We give our clients a curated spice set from Burlap & Barrel, which our recipes rely on to enhance flavour and depth.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Do all your produce prep work as soon as you get home from the supermarket. Wash, peel, cut, slice, etc. Get those ingredients ready to pull from the fridge and use them right away, so you won't have to worry about it later.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Make big batches of stock from leftover bits of vegetables and proteins that can be saved, stored, and used down the line in future recipes. Stock comes in handy as a flavourful water replacement when cooking, blanching, or boiling. Freeze your stock in small, plastic bags for easy ingredient additions (E.g. 1-2 cups for cooking rice, etc.)
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Do half the cooking and make ingredients go twice as far; One night's tuna steak is the perfect protein for a niçoise salad later in the week.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Instead of tossing out extra unused veggies, flavour them with your favourite spices and lay them out flat on a baking sheet (to prevent clumping) before freezing for 1-2 hours. Afterwards, transfer the goods to freezer-safe resealable bag and store in the freezer until you're ready to roast them at a later date.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Tfw you are forced to buy an entire bunch of herbs when the recipe only calls for a sprig or two? It's the worst. And since these delicate greens can't hold up in the fridge, the next best bet to salvaging them is by chopping them up and infusing your favourite oil. Store the oil in an airtight vessel in a cool cupboard for use on a salad, drizzled on popcorn, or even for dipping a loaf of your favourite crusty bread in.
Illustrated by Louisa Cannell.
Blend up any extra nuts and seeds in your cupboard to use as longer-lasting, shelf-stable creamy sauces and dressings. Store them in the fridge for up to a week, bring them to room temperature, and thin them out with water, oil, or citrus before use.
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