Meal prep was the one thing my Type A, uber-productive life was missing. “Once I start meal prepping, it’s over for you…,” etc. You’ve likely heard countless diatribes about the ways that meal prep can change your life–saving you time, money, encouraging better eating habits, etc. 

There are, therefore, an endless supply of meal prep services out there. You can hire a local chef, buy a box of meals and groceries to be delivered to your house, or you can do what I did: subscribe to Work Week Lunch, a meal prep recipe service and online community that is built on intuitive eating principles — rather than weight loss. 

If you’re considering a meal prep service, consider what I learned, and then go from there!

What is Work Week Lunch?

Work Week Lunch is a program that provides recipes, grocery lists, and other information to subscribers for the price of $9.99 a month, or less if you buy a multi-month subscription. Subscribers are also invited to join a Facebook group of subscribers where more information is shared, preppers can ask questions, get advice, and more. 

I discovered WWL on Instagram–they share great recipes and tips for meal prepping. The founder, Talia, is very approachable, and clearly good at marketing, because here I am!

Something that drew me even more to WWL than her smiling face was that it doesn’t include calorie counts on the recipes and the fact that it is a recipe service means you aren’t going to get shipped a set recipe with no way to customize it. WWL not only allows you to simply not put in ingredients you don’t like, but they also have buttons on each recipe to adjust the serving size, make it vegetarian, or make it vegan. 

Picking a Meal Plan for the Week

WWL releases a new “plan” each week that includes new recipes and well-tested ones on their website. This week, there were five recipes for a six day period. Talia usually recommends ordering take out on the day you meal prep to save your sanity, but you can always adjust and make more recipes to fill your fridge for say 7 too. 

While the new meal plan is great, as a subscriber, you can build your own meal plan using their recipe archive to build your own meal plan. That’s what I did this first week, because I wanted to pick recipes that used up some of the ingredients I already had. I’m also a kind of picky eater, so I wanted to ease into this. WWL does have some great diverse recipes though–covering many cultural dishes. 

I used the recipe archive to make a meal plan for the week. 

I picked apple pie overnight oats and apple cheddar honey quesadillas for breakfast. Then, I picked 4 meals that could be either lunch or dinner—I am going into work three days a week, so I wanted a good mixture of meals so I could have what I was in the mood for. I also wanted to account for two times I knew I wouldn’t be eating one of these meals–Tuesday date night and Saturday when I was ordering sushi with a friend for her birthday. 

I ended up picking a pizza orzo skillet (3 servings), grilled veggie hummus wraps (3 servings), sweet potato black bean quesadillas (3 servings), and roasted veggie baked zitis (2 servings). 

Grocery Shopping

I like the autonomy over the grocery shopping process that WWL allows. By having a recipe archive, I can guarantee I don’t have to buy a whole new pantry every week. I can specifically choose recipes that use the things I had–such as tortillas and apples, which was this week’s theme. 

Once you have a meal plan, the site will generate a grocery list for you. You can go through and delete or cross off items you don’t want (aka: veggie sausage, for me) or that you already have. Then, you can print the list or email it to yourself to save paper. 

Because I picked recipes that used what I already had, and because my grocery store was out of a few seasonings, I ended up only spending $35 to buy all my groceries for this meal prep. Most of what I was buying was fresh produce, pasta, a few sauces, and hummus. The site did provide a recipe for homemade hummus, but since I don’t currently have a larger blender, I decided to buy it pre-made instead. That flexibility is key for success in meal prep. Don’t make your life harder than it has to be. 

The Cooking

Now, let’s talk about the hardest part of meal prep: actually doing it. I took Talia’s advice and did my grocery shopping and cooking on two different days to not overwhelm myself. 

For a bit of context, I live in a studio apartment, so my kitchen is not large. I also don’t have a dishwasher or microwave, so I was doing dishes by hand. To keep myself sane, I did dishes while I went when I could and then re-used those pots and pans as necessary. 

I started around 12:15PM, and finished around 2:30PM. My apartment got hot, and I ended up keeping the door to the balcony open even though it was snowing here in DC. 

I made a cooking plan–an order of events, as you will, to maximize my limited space and keep the oven at the same heat, but as time progressed, that kind of went out the window. I cooked pasta while I roasted veggies. Then, I let quesadillas cook while I whipped up overnight oats. And I probably could have saved myself a lot of time by pre-cutting all my veggies, but I didn’t want to confuse myself about what was going in what recipe in what quantities–or use up even more bowls to sort them out–but if you have more space/a dishwasher, you may find that helpful!

By the time I was done, I was very pleased with myself. I was tired, a little warm, but very proud!

I also made a pan of brownies because WWL doesn’t have dessert recipes and I have a sweet tooth. 

The Actual Eating

Each recipe comes with instructions on reheating and serving information, which is great to reflect back on if you can’t remember if something is freezer safe or the best temperature for an ovenful of pasta bake. 

By the end of Monday–when I had finished overnight oats, a grilled hummus wrap, and the ziti bake–I was so pleased. I felt full and comfortable, rather than hungry or bloated. My ziti wasn’t as moist as I’d have liked, but that’s likely due to my scrimping on the sauce or reheating for too long in the oven. The hummus wrap was WOW though–delicious!

On Tuesday, I went to work, and discovered that the pizza orzo skillet reheated beautifully in the microwave, and was absolutely enjoyable. It was probably my favorite recipe of the week!

I made a lot of tortilla-based meals this week. One of them–the apple cheddar honey quesadilla–I only got to eat 1.25 of, because I burned the first one badly while trying to multitask. I heated the hummus wrap on the stove and found that worked well–since I was going for warmth rather than cooking it through. And I also reheated the black bean quesadilla on the stove, but it never got as warm as I wanted–I’ll probably pop it in the oven next time! 

I did truly feel like meal prep made me a superwoman this week. My breakfasts were actually consumed because they were ready to go. My lunches were the envy of all my coworkers. And my dinners were ready within 15 minutes of me walking in the door–sometimes sooner if I kept my shoes on to cook. 

This let me have REAL meals for dinner even when I had to hop on a Zoom call or wanted to lay down and just watch TV. No soups and sandwiches–a full, hearty meal, ready for me to eat it! Amazing, right?

I’m already chomping at the bit to get planning for next week–I’m going to try and get a little more adventurous each week. I’m hardly a Michelin-starred chef, and I’m mostly a vegetarian, but I love the way that WWL breaks down their recipes, makes them customizable, and makes me feel empowered in the kitchen. 

The Verdict

In conclusion, I’m obsessed with how good I feel having done this. I’m proud of the recipes I made, I love how prepared I feel for the week ahead, and the cleaning/cooking process truly wasn’t as bad as I worried it would be in a studio kitchen. 

If you’re like me and stay busy, have very little cooking motivation when you’ve been at work all day, and want hearty meals that serve you well without making you worry about your waistline, you’re going to want to give WorkWeekLunch a shot!

They also have drop one free recipe a week (and keep them archived there!)–so you have an easy way to test them out before you do a one week free trial and then purchase your subscription. 

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member