We tapped Pamela Salzman for some of her smartest, most clever meal prep ideas. She shares dozens of ideas for easy Sunday cooking that will have you eating pretty throughout the week. 

Meal prep is one of those kitchen tasks you either love or hate. Some look forward to a neat stack of organized lunches or dinners prepared over the weekend, packaged tidily, ready and waiting for what’s sure to be a busy week ahead. It’s great in theory. But the thought of spending a whole weekend day in the kitchen cooking? Well, even I have other things I’d like to do with my Sunday.

Enter Pamela Salzman, the guru behind Kitchen Matters: More than 100 Recipes and Tips to Transform the Way You Cook and Eat—Wholesome, Nourishing, Unforgettable. In her book and on her website, Pamela outlines solutions for making good-for-you meals easy and accessible throughout the week. Every week, Pamela offers a dinner planner, which includes original recipes from her site as well as other favorites. She outlines prep ahead steps for Sundays, so there are just bits and pieces to prepare during the week.

We caught up with Pamela to find out how she makes it look so easy, what she keeps on hand to make meal prep a cinch, and some of her most clever ways to stretch her favorite recipes.

Besides the basics like olive oil and vinegar, garlic and good spices, Pamela always keeps washed greens and picked herbs on hand so they’re ready to go when she is. Wild canned fish like salmon and tuna are tasty (and affordable) ways to get quick protein on the table. She’ll make big batches of grains and use them in this Unfried Rice. Did you know you can actually freeze big batches of quinoa? Pamela recommends cooking, cooling, then freezing it flat in a resealable plastic bag so you can easily break off a hunk whenever you need a little extra protein. 

Frozen veggies like peas, broccoli and mushrooms are a must: Use them anywhere you’d use cooked vegetables like in pastas, stir-fries, calzones (never forget about calzones!) or pizza. And homemade dressings and marinades are great to have on hand.

But the big question Pamela is always asking is “What can I do right now while I’m in the kitchen?” Here at RS Cooking School, you know I’m a big believer in utilizing inactive time, and that’s exactly what Pamela is talking about. Got fifteen minutes to spare? Wash some greens, chop some veggies, throw some cauliflower in the food processor to make cauliflower rice (or, Pamela says, just grab a bag of organic cauliflower rice at Costco). Combine it with regular rice and cook as usual, no fancy math or adjustments necessary.

A few more of her genius meal prep ideas:

Make a big batch of chili—maybe our Slow Cooker Pork Adobada—and use it through the week, spooned over baked sweet potatoes, on top of tortilla chips with avocado and radishes for quick nachos, or layered with corn tortillas and cheese for a Tex-Mex lasagna.

Use that big batch of quinoa or grains in a stir fry, as the base of a salad, or add it to your favorite pancake batter for added protein.

Our Universal Pesto is perfect spooned over grilled chicken or fish, tossed with pasta or spaghetti squash, stirred into eggs, or dolloped on a grain bowl.

Poached or slow-roasted and shredded chicken is a no-brainer for sandwiches, salads, enchiladas, tacos or fried rice. And roasted veggies easily adapt in soups, smashed on a sandwich, layered in quesadillas, or tucked into frittatas.

It’s not about cooking hard, it’s about cooking smart. Check out Pamela’s Not-Fried Rice recipe and more of her dinner planners over at Pamelasalzman.com.