What is Make Now & Eat Later?
It is pretty simple. Basically, I shop for ingredients and cook all my food for the entire week on the weekend. Then I pack the food into containers, and eat it for lunch and dinner, Monday to Friday.
Here’s the current formula:
7 lunches and dinners = 1 protein (baked chicken) + 3 veggie sides
As part of my veggie expert training, I have been teaching myself new Japanese salad techniques. I found this fantastic cookbook called “作り置きサラダ” (Tsukurioki Salada), which roughly translates as “Make now and store salads.” Turns out the Japanese already had the idea of making food now and eating it later! I’m cooking my way through the cookbook and will share recipes as I go!
(I cook three new recipes from this cookbook every week! Check back for updates.)
(Photo credit to Amazon.)
I have been eating this way for over 3 years, and have no plans of stopping! For one thing, it satisfies my obsession with making systems and maximizing efficiency. Plus, it is delicious! My approach has made me somewhat infamous among my friends… One asked to tag along with me when grocery shopping because he was curious to see my shopping habits. My roommates generously avoid the kitchen (and my cooking bonanza) on Sundays, so that I can enjoy the entire kitchen to myself.
I absolutely love eating this way! For me, there are a bunch of advantages:
Since I am buying all the ingredients at once, I find that I waste less food. I usually end up buying only what I really need to cook my menu for that week. Also I reduce my opportunities for impulse buys… (You know, those chocolate bars that I just cannot resist! Or that chunk of cheese that looks so good.) Since I am only going to the grocery store once per week, I can only act on my impulses sometimes…
(Snacks. Yum! Never on my list but… does that stop me?)
Plus, it saves money because I am mostly eating homemade foods, rather than meals out. Work lunches can really start to add up. I found that packing my own lunch was an easy way to cut costs (and plus, there weren’t really any good lunch options at my university). Knowing that I have dinner waiting for me at home encourages me to skip dinner out and head back. It makes eating at home easier than pretty much any other option (even easier than take out!).
- Saves Time
Before I started this approach, I was cooking every day and I felt like I had to spend a fair amount of time prepping, cooking, and cleaning. Now that I cook just once a week, I only have to do major dishes once per week! The rest of the week it is just a plate or bowl, my fork, and a cutting board. I love not having to do pots and pans on weeknights! My entire meal prep, eating, and clean up can easily take less than an hour. I was able to reclaim so much time in the evening. If I got back around 6pm, I could be all done with my eating stuff by 7pm, and still have several hours to enjoy whatever projects (or Netflix) I wanted to enjoy. Like, I was able to start my journey to becoming a Japanese veggie expert. What would you do with your extra time?
(My newest favorite hobby! Building tiny paper mechanized models. This little robot serves tea.)
- Makes Healthy Eating Easy
This is not something that I thought about when I started eating this way. Actually, I was more focused on saving time and money. But after eating this way for several years, I realized that I was eating much healthier.
(Look! How green!)
Kind of like grocery shopping just once per week reduces your chances of impulse buys, making all your food ahead of time reduces how much you have to make healthy choices. You can choose to make healthy food on the weekend, and then it is just there ready for you. You don’t have to keep consciously making healthy choices all week, like “Should I order the burger or the salad” “Should I eat a bacon sandwich or stir-fry some veggies?” Decisions about healthy eating take a lot of mental energy. Actually decisions in general suck time and energy. There is even a word for this, “decision fatigue.” Just look at Barack Obama who has consciously decided to pare down less important decisions in his life (like what to wear) by always wearing the same suit. (If you want to read more about decision fatigue, check out: The Science of Simplicity).
What do you need to start?
Not much! It is pretty easy to cook and eat this way. You do not really need any special equipment. There are a few things that are nice tohttps://wordpress.com/post/thegreenturnip.com/160 have:
1) A big mixing bowl
Since you’ll be cooking enough for an entire week, the quantities of food can get pretty large. A nice generous sized mixing bowl is great.
2) Food storage containers
These are pretty essential actually, since you’ll need something to store the food. I use a combination of glass and plastic containers, in various sizes and shapes. Glass is nice if you can get it, since it is easier to clean, but not required.
3) Lunch box
If you decide to pack your food for lunch, it is nice to have a lunch box or similarly sized container to hold your food. I use a lunch box from the Japanese store, Muji, but a regular Tupperware would work just as well.
(Beautiful Muji lunchbox! I have the white one.)
(Photo credit: ebayphotoupload006.)
The Make Now & Eat Later Story
Four years ago, I was living in my parents’ house and enjoying three home cooked meals a day (thanks mom!).
(Mom making fresh bread!)
Then I moved across the country to California to start graduate school. Suddenly I had to cook entirely for myself, and I felt like I had very little time. I did however have a beautiful kitchen to cook in!
(I was seriously missing these home cooked meals from my mom…)
To save time and energy (and ultimately to eat better), I started to cook all my food for the week just once per week. Over the years, the system has been refined and (dare I even say) honed. Anyone can do this and enjoy it. I hope you can enjoy it too!