Photo: Christopher Testani

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Rule #6: Build Your Bases
Make your life easier by preparing batches of foods you can combine into multiple meals. Start with a pot of grains or beans—or both—every week. "A pound of dried beans costs about $1. Once they're cooked, it's a snap to add them to any soup or salad," says Mark Bittman, New York Times food columnist and author of VB6 and the forthcoming VB6 Cookbook. Apply this strategy to roasted vegetables (broccoli, butternut squash) and dressed hardier greens (kale, Swiss chard). "Don't roast just two sweet potatoes; roast six," he says. "The more you cook and have stuff around, the less you'll depend on junk." Start with these fridge-friendly staples.

In a large bowl, combine 2 stemmed, chopped bunches of Tuscan or lacinato kale (2 pounds), 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. Season with pepper and massage until softened, 5 minutes. When ready to eat, salt to taste. Makes about 10 cups.

Sweet Potatoes
Preheat oven to 400°. Prick 6 medium sweet potatoes with a fork. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until tender, 45 to 60 minutes.

Herb-Tahini Dressing
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add ½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, ½ cup tahini, 6 roughly chopped scallions, 2 cloves garlic, the zest and juice of 2 lemons, 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper and pulse to combine. With the motor running, add 1/3 cup olive oil in a thin stream until combined. Makes 1 cup.

In a medium pot, combine 3 cups water, 1 cup rinsed farro, and ¼ tsp. salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain excess water. Makes 3 cups.

Store each base in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week and reheat as needed.

Mix and Match Your Make-Aheads

Tacos: Whole wheat tortilla + Sweet potato mashed with spoonful of plain yogurt + Dressed kale + Sliced avocado

Kale Salad: Dressed kale + Herb-tahini dressing + Cooked farro + Kalamata olives + Thinly sliced cucumber

Winter Farro: Cooked farro + Dressed kale + Shaved Parmesan + Toasted walnuts + Golden raisins

Topped Sweet Potato: Split-open baked sweet potato + Cooked faro + Shredded rotisserie chicken + Herb-tahini dressing