The Secret to Health Eating? Meal Prepping on Sundays.

Health Information Lifestyle

It’s one of those long days and your stomach growls as you scan your fridge. It seems overwhelming and a little stressful to cook, especially on the fly. So you order in. Again.

I’m Melissa Clark, a columnist at New York Times Cooking, filling in for Jancee Dunn.

My job is to help ease your way into regularly making stress-free dinners. The payoff is big, because cooking from scratch is always more economical and healthier than takeout — and it can be almost as easy. You don’t need loads of time, fancy ingredients or a sous chef, just a little advance planning. Spending a couple of hours over the weekend to prep a few foundational elements is your key to breezy weeknight meals. (For more delicious ideas, sign up for the Cooking newsletter, which I write twice a week.)

As soon as I get home on Saturday mornings with my farmers’ market haul, I prep the piles of greens and produce.

Wherever you do your shopping, the drill is the same: Wash all the salad and other greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.), spin dry, roll them into clean dish towels and store them (with the towel) in plastic or produce bags in the fridge.

They’ll last at least a week, so you can turn them into salads with dressings you have on hand (see below). The hardy greens can go into a skillet with garlic, ginger and chile for a quick cook, adding cut up chicken or tofu to make a stir-fry. Simply season to taste with soy sauce and sesame oil. Or try this crispy chickpea stew with greens or greens and beans with toasted crumbs.

For simple cooking, wash, cut and store any sturdy vegetables (asparagus, carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, radishes, turnips). Even alliums like scallions, leeks and onions will last in the fridge, sliced or diced, for three or four days. Just avoid pre-chopping avocados, potatoes, eggplant or tomatoes; they don’t hold up as well. Your prepped vegetables will be at the ready for dishes like this summery orzo salad with lentils and zucchini and this no-cook naan-o paneer-o sabzi, a savory plate of feta, fresh herbs, nuts and watermelon at the heart of the Iranian table.

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