Hey! It’s the second installment of my little series where I talk with some other bloggers about their meal prepping and planning habits! To spread the love and help us all learn something new, I want to share some advice from all kinds of food bloggers who’ve been planning and prepping successfully for years. Monika is sharing her meal planning and food prep from Denmark! I love how Monika uses ingredients and methods I’m less familiar with to aid in her meal planning.
A Meal Prep Convo with Food Blogger
Monika from Splash of Flavours
Monika shares colorful vegetarian recipes from Denmark at Splash of Flavours. [Monika’s website has gone offline but I’m leaving this article up because her words and tips are still valuable!]
My food blog is my passion, an outlet of my creativity. I love to experiment with the basic ingredients and create new recipes. My blog is very much different from day to day cooking. It’s a vegetarian food blog, with baking and eggs. The idea behind my food blog is that a meal should be enjoyable, eatable, shareable with family and friends. When I experiment with my ingredients, and if that turns out as a good recipe, then I share my love for food with the world on my blog.
My blog was launched in August 2015, since then I have gone through a tremendous journey of hard work which I certainly enjoy. My food photography is self-taught, it’s a vision and a mood which display the food I prepare. I like to experiment with the ingredients and photography.
What are your favorite personal recipes, and what do you make most often?
I focus a lot on healthy recipes. During the weekend, it’s so important to eat breakfast as a family together. Personally these are my favourite recipes and quick to make a healthy breakfast: Baked Blueberry French Toast Muffin, Layered Oats Parfait, Spiced Tangy Oats Breakfast, and Chocolate Instant Bircher Muesli. For lunch/dinner: Butternut Squash Risotto, and Parsley Walnut Pesto.
When did you start meal prepping and/or planning?
Planning is a major part of food blogging and running the kitchen smoothly during the week and after the busy days at work. Prepping and planning started quite a few years ago for me. When I became mom, then I realised that kitchen can’t be run on random ideas to cook a recipe or after sudden cravings. For my food blog, the recipes are quite spontaneous as I believe that creativity can happen any time of the day, so meal planning is mainly important for running the house smoothly and keeping everyone happy.
What’s your usual plan/prep routine? Has it changed over time?
I usually start my meal planning on a plain sheet of a paper and divide that into 7 days of the week and write the meal and type of meal – breakfast/ lunch / dinner. Then start adding what foods I will be making.
Grocery shopping – I have the basic items that I purchase without any list depending on the consumption, for example – milk, yogurt, fruits and vegetables.
For meal planning – I do it 2 ways – on another sheet, I write the items to buy and do shopping accordingly. On iPhone notes – I write what to buy or use an app, there are many free apps available to write the grocery shopping items.
I sometimes repeat 1- 2 favourite dishes in the whole month. I don’t throw these papers – as the month progresses, I sometimes repeat the meals and put up and down arrows on the sheet if any new recipe/dish needs to be repeated.
What foods or ingredients do you usually prep ahead?
If my meal planning has something to soak, then I would soak that a night before. There was a process I had followed when I had delivered my first baby: Prep ahead and freeze the food for the week or a month, label it (date + name of the dish) or use later.
It has changed over the years. I use Excel sheets to do my meal planning and print it out so that way it’s all saved in my computer.
Why do you meal plan/prep?
Meal planning is very important especially when you have a busy life, a food blogger, or a mommy. The goal is to avoid the messy stressful situation in the kitchen, suddenly you run out of the items to use in the recipe or food.
Cooking needs to be a happy experience, it doesn’t require to be in the kitchen whole day. If you plan to invest 45 minutes in the evening after work, then it’s not an effort. In the end it’s worth it, because you are producing good healthy food and once the meal planning is done wisely, many hiccups can be avoided. Not so many people would like to stand in long Q’s after work. So a little bit of effort goes a long way and cooking also works as a therapy, put the music and enjoy the time in the kitchen.
I try to stick to my schedule. It’s not about being a perfectionist. Meal planning does take the stress away, like what shall I cook tonight? The goal is to serve healthy fresh food on the dining table and enjoy happy times together. Eating a meal with family is my long term goal.
What are your favorite containers to use when preparing food ahead of time?
I am a huge fan of zip lock bags from Ikea. I also use Tupperware, especially the ice trays are so good to store baby food or if you made anything which needs only a cubicle portion.
Do you have any meal prepping or planning tips for beginners?
My advice to the beginners for the meal prepping is try to have an overview of the dishes that you may like, write it down on a piece of paper for example advised above. Once you have become comfortable in meal planning then start bringing some changes. Avoid implementing many meal prep plans together, take baby steps for example:
Get an overview of the month – Take 4-5 sheets depending on the weeks in that month, divide it in weeks, write the weekdays, write the meal type – breakfast / lunch /dinner . Repeat 1-2 dishes as you may like in these weeks. This will give you the confidence to pull off the meal planning without stress.
Plan accordingly and take sometime out during the weekend to prepare for the next week dishes or freeze the prepared food if you are an extremely busy person and may be working in shifts. You could also freeze homemade pizza and use it whenever you like. Just label the pizza when you put it in a ziplock bag or if freezing the whole pizza, wrap it up in cling film and label on top of the pizza.