Food & Home

table with cooking ingredients

A Nutritionist’s Flexible Plan for
Weeknight Cooking

Pandemic cooking came with lessons on relying on the pantry, riffing when you don’t have the right ingredient, and stretching what you have to make it last between shopping trips. Now, as many people enter a hybrid phase of pandemic living—with some household members working or learning remote, going in person to the office or school, or a combination of the two—we want some updated, flexible strategies for packed and prepped meals.

Maya Feller, MS, RD, a New York–based nutritionist, mom, and wife, gets what it takes to plan for a whole family’s varied needs. “This transition back requires careful planning, thought, and intention around mealtimes,” she says. Her advice, as always, is clever, practical, and workable for many types of households and schedules: “All you need are a few time-saving tools, a curated pantry and fridge, and partially prepared foods to streamline meal prep.”


  1. Ninja Foodi Air Fryer

    Ninja Foodi Air Fryer

    “This air fryer has a grill and an air fryer function that is excellent for vegetables and animal proteins. It transforms produce from the farmers’ market into crispy, grilled, or baked delights. It’s very simple to use and has a cooking guide, so foods are cooked to perfection.”

    Ninja Foodi 5-in-1, Amazon, $200

  2. Instant Pot

    Instant Pot

    “Dry beans are a major staple in my house: They are delicious and an excellent source of plant-based proteins, vitamins, and minerals. With this pot’s many functions and settings, I can prepare batches of beans, soups, stews, and even desserts with minimal effort.”

    Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1, Amazon, $89

  3. CRUXGG BRED Bread Maker

    CRUXGG BRED Bread Maker

    “During the shutdown period, like the rest of the country, we got really into making sourdough. I fell in love with this bread maker because I could dump all of the ingredients in and come back an hour later to a loaf of fresh bread. I would play with the grains as well as ingredients and come up with awesome combinations, like multiseed bread with dried blueberries or spelt bread with walnuts.”

    CRUXGG BRED 2LB Bread Maker, Williams Sonoma, $170

  4. Shun Knives

    Shun Knives

    “Having a good knife allows you to slice, chop, and dice with ease and precision. As an RD, I’m aware that I’m asking my patients to spend more time in the kitchen. If they are going to do that, they need tools that will make it a pleasure-filled experience so that they are likely to keep it up. Shun knives handle so beautifully and are exquisitely made.”

    Shun Cutlery Classic 3-Piece Starter Set, Amazon, $325

  5. Big Berkey Water Filter

    Big Berkey Water Filter

    “So often we think about the foods we eat but forget about water. It’s an integral part of wellness as proper hydration is needed for every system in the body. My Berkey filter provides delicious, clean water for my family.” [Editor’s note: Berkeys are a goop favorite, too.]

    Big Berkey Water Filter, Berkey Filters, $317


If your pantry and fridge are stocked with a mix of reliable and versatile staples, you can make delicious meals with ease. Feller often uses no-recipe recipe formulas so she can easily work with whatever she has on hand to create hearty salads, grain bowls, veggie tacos, and loaded toasts. The key ingredients she always keeps on hand, and some go-to formulas:

  1. artichoke hearts

  2. avocado

  3. chickpeas or red beans

  4. eggs

  5. goat’s or sheep’s milk feta cheese

  6. hearts of palm

  7. rice

  8. salad mix with greens like endive, radicchio, kale, and baby lettuces

  9. shredded carrots

  10. simmer sauces from Haven’s Kitchen and Egunsi Foods

  11. sprouted bread

  12. sunflower and pumpkin seeds

  13. tinned sardines in olive oil

  14. tortillas


  2. beans + greens + seeds + cheese


  4. roasted veggies + simmer sauce + rice


  6. tortillas + eggs + veggies + avocado


  8. sprouted toast + sprouts or herbs + tinned fish


Meal prepping can be hugely helpful, but it requires a lot of effort and doesn’t always leave wiggle room if your plans or moods should change. That’s why Feller prefers partial prepping to full-blown meals. She thinks of it as a survival kit—with a few crucial elements to make weeknight cooking easier and tastier: one salad dressing, one stew or pot of beans, and one tray of veggies (either raw for snacking or roasted for adding to bowls and salads).

Meal-Prep Ideas from the goop Recipe Archives:

Yogurt-Tahini Dressing

Yogurt-Tahini Dressing

Definitely worth adding to your repertoire.

Carrot and Ginger Dressing

Carrot and Ginger Dressing

Spoon it over salads or enjoy as a dip—this can get kids to eat their veggies.

Bean Stew with Kale and Escarole

Bean Stew with Kale and Escarole

Hearty soups always seem to taste better the second day.

Hearty Chicken Sofrito Stew

Chicken Sofrito Stew

This soup is a riff on sancocho, a staple soup made in almost every Latin American kitchen. There are countless versions of it—ours is light and packed with veggies.

Maple Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables

Maple-Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables

Sure, you can just roast vegetables with olive oil and salt, but the maple syrup and Dijon add so much.

Tossed Peanut-y Roasted Vegetable Bowls

Tossed Peanut-y Roasted Vegetable Bowls

Simple, filling, and packed with tons of veggies and chickpeas.

We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page (including links to Amazon).