Get-ahead Sundays

Get-ahead Sundays

The Simple Dinner EditArticle courtesy of The Simple Dinner Edit by Nicole Maguire, Macmillan, RRP $44.99


Weeknights can be hectic as we juggle kids, study, work, school, sport, housework, activities and all the other ‘stuff’ on our never-ending to-do list. I love dedicating some time in the kitchen on the days where I have an extra hour or two up my sleeve to reset and prepare for the week ahead. I pop a load of washing on and turn on some tunes before getting stuck into a few simple steps that give me back hours during the week and help mealtime run more smoothly, without consuming my entire weekend.

Food prep

There is no better way to control wastage than by spending a little bit of time prepping your food ready for the week … and I don’t mean having every single vegetable cut and stored in individual containers ready for each meal – unless you want to. The food prep that I’m referring to is the basic prep that will ensure that the produce you are buying is actually being used and being eaten.


Prepare the fruits and vegetables you are unlikely to reach for unless they are already washed, cut and ready to be used. Heads of lettuce, kale, cabbage, watermelon, pineapple, rockmelon, whole broccoli and cauliflower are all great fruits and vegetables that you can cut and store in containers, encouraging you to use them when you need them.

Nice to do

Cut snacking vegetables ready for use (see Food Storage below) and wash whole fruit ready for eating.


Batch-wash your fruit and vegetables so that they are ready to go come mealtime.

Fruit and veg washing tips

Berries Soak them in 80 ml (1/3cup) white vinegar and 250 ml (1 cup) water to clean them and help them last longer. Rinse in cold tap water and dry thoroughly before storing.

All other produce Fruit and veg are best washed under cool running water but can also be soaked for up to 10 minutes with bicarbonate of soda. Bicarbonate of soda is an inexpensive, mildly abrasive, natural cleaning agent that helps to loosen debris and remove dirt and bacteria. Use 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda per 500 ml (2 cups) water and rinse your fruit and veg thoroughly in cool running water after soaking. Ensure fruit and veg are thoroughly dried (using paper towel or clean tea towels) prior to storing.

Food storage

So much time, effort and money goes into our grocery shopping and there is nothing more heartbreaking than reaching for the coriander you need for your delicious Thai beef salad only to realise it is limp and browned … and you only purchased it two days ago. These are some simple food storage tips that work. You don’t need fancy equipment or containers. These tips will help extend the life of your produce for multiple days.


Wrap washed herbs in several damp paper towels or a clean damp tea towel before storing in an airtight container or reusable sandwich bag. This will extend their shelf life by multiple days (a minimum of 3 days). Works with all herbs except for basil and mint, which brown when stored in the fridge – store these herbs in a jar of water (in a bouquet) on your countertop instead.

Leafy greens

Washed leafy greens, such as spring onions, Asian greens (bok choy, pak choy, choy sum and Chinese broccoli), all benefit from being stored in a clean damp tea towel. Wrap the vegetables individually before storing them in your crisper. This method will extend their shelf life by multiple days (a minimum of 3 days).

Lettuce leaves

Wash lettuce leaves and use a salad spinner to dry them thoroughly. Store in an airtight container or reusable sandwich bag with dry paper towel on top and bottom to keep them fresher for longer (a minimum of 4 days).

Shredded cabbage

Thoroughly dry your cabbage leaves prior to shredding. Store in an airtight container or reusable sandwich bag with dry paper towel on top and bottom to keep them fresher for longer (a minimum of 4 days).

Snacking vegetables

Store snacking vegetables, such as cut cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and celery stalks, separately in containers. Use a single sheet of paper towel on top of the vegetables (before covering with the lid) to absorb moisture and keep them fresher for longer (a minimum of 3 days).

Batch cooking

There is nothing more satisfying than coming home to dinner already made thanks to batch cooking, which allows you to make food ahead of time to enjoy later. You can batch cook by doubling the ingredients when you are making dinner. OR if you find energy levels are low come dinnertime, you may choose to allocate some time during the week where you cook a meal or two to help you get ahead. It’s helpful taking your time, turning on some tunes, preparing your ingredients first and washing up as you go.

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