2 Hours of Meal Prep for a Week’s Worth of Meals

Lentil time. Once the meat is cooking, rinse 2 cups of lentils, then place in a medium pot and cover with several inches of cold water. Season with a tablespoon of kosher salt, a drizzle of oil, a bay leaf if you have it, a couple of smashed garlic cloves (optional). Set over medium-high heat to bring to a simmer, then reduce to very low and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally. Set a timer: Regular green lentils will take about 20 minutes, so start there and add time if needed. They’ll hold up better if they’re not cooked to mush.

Grains go next. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt as you would for pasta. When boiling, add 2 cups of grains and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. This could take 15 minutes for barley, 30 minutes for pearled farro, 35 minutes for spelt. Check the package for a rough estimate and set a timer so you don’t lose track. You now have three things going!

Time to prep the greens. While the lentils and grains (and meat) are underway, strip the leafy part of your greens from the stems, then cut or tear into 2-inch pieces. You can use up to three bunches at a time. Wash the greens. If you’re using Swiss chard, slice the stems too (keep separate from the greens).

Are the lentils done? Great. Drain them, spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet or large plate to cool, and season with salt and pepper. Clean the pot. Fill it with water, bring to a boil over high, and salt generously. This is for blanching the greens, which will make them super luscious when slow-cooked.

When the water is at a boil, add the greens and cook until tender, 2–3 minutes. Drain greens; return pot to medium and follow this recipe, which calls for olive oil, garlic, some chiles, and lemon juice (use vinegar if you don’t have it). It takes 30 minutes of hands-off time, and at the end of that you will have a concentrated, space-efficient, extremely nutritious batch of greens to eat for the next few days.

Grain drain. Your grains have probably reached completion. Drain them, then transfer to a bowl and dress with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Let cool, stirring occasionally. If you have any tender herbs on hand, like basil or cilantro, chop them up and add them to the grains once they’ve cooled. It’s a good way to use up your herbs and adds value to the grains.

Big batch your vinaigrette. If there’s a vinaigrette you usually make, make a quadruple batch. If you don’t have a favorite recipe, try this one, which is designed to be made in a jar and uses a combination of vinegars, so rely on whatever you’ve got.

Dress the lentils. Use a few spoonfuls of the vinaigrette to coat your lentils. As they sit in the fridge, they’ll just get better and better.

Throw it all on a plate and call it “grain salad.”

Photo by Alex Lau, Food Styling by Sue Li, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski

Reap your rewards

Here are a few ways to combine what you’ve made, or use them in other applications.

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