Menu planning and meal prepping has made our lives so much easier!
There are an endless amount of ways to tackle meal prep. I usually don’t like to prep entire meals unless the week is exceptionally busy. By that I mean, I prefer to leave a few options; I’ll prepare several sides and marinate proteins so I can choose what I want to make for dinner.
These are some things I always do when I meal prep:
- Write out a menu
- at least wash and chop all veggies + fruits
- make breakfast for the week
If I have a little more time:
– I write a detailed shopping list
- marinate AND/OR grill meats (dependent on the weather)
- cook easy carb for the week
- make extra meat and veggies for lunches
- prep snack packs
- make a dessert
The menu is the most important part. By writing a menu, it’s easier for us to stay on track and prevent’s us from defaulting to takeout. Our menu is pretty flexible; I try to include one slow cooker recipe, something that takes max. 30 minutes, and something I can cook ahead of time and serve with a fresh salad. The last meal is always a wildcard. The week flows pretty smoothly when I have a plan!
Here is a link to the notepad I use: Knock Knock What to Eat Pad
I find that when I immediately wash and store the fruits and vegetables, they are much more likely to get eaten. If you don’t have time for that, consider buying some things already chopped and prepped. i.e. chopped apples, cut pineapple, baby carrot sticks, chopped onion, already peeled garlic, or broccoli florets. The additional cost is worth it, especially if it can save yourself an hour or two.
Below I have listed my most used tools for meal prep, links included.
- 16 oz. Plastic Containers // 2. 32 oz. Plastic Containers // 3. Meal Prep Containers// 4. Condiment Cups/// 5. Measuring Cups// 6. Rice Cooker // 7. Sheet Pans
I used to roast a pan of vegetables at the beginning of the week to serve as an easy side dish. This was fine, but I actually prefer to roast my vegetables towards the end of the week. It’s a great way to clean out the fridge before your next shopping trip.
A simple thing to do is make a pot of rice or pasta. This can be used for lunch power bowls or for adding some bulk to dinners.
Finally, I always attempt to get breakfast made before the week begins. As a busy mom, I would often wait to eat my first meal during my daughter’s nap time. That can be as late as 1 or 2 o’clock. Now that I have something ready to be warmed up in the fridge, I get a much better start to my day. I promise a prepped breakfast is much better than that stale cup of coffee you keep warming up! Even if I can’t get to anything else on my list, I try to get breakfast done. It has really helped with my energy level.
Lunches are usually a new take on the previous night’s dinner. I will take leftover meat and pair it with some quick sautéed vegetables or serve on top of some greens for an easy salad. Condiments like fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, homemade ranch or chipotle vinaigrette, and creative salsas can really help you keep meals fresh and exciting.
Another option is to make a big pot of soup at the beginning of the week. Serve with a salad or sandwich for the week.
Snack packs are for the advanced meal preppers. Once you get around to prepping snacks, you have already been in the kitchen for at least 2 maybe three hours. Snack packs are good if you are constantly on the go or really working on portion control. Toss in some fresh fruit, celery sticks, make a little peanut butter for dipping and you’re set.
Monday’s can be slow and cumbersome; perfect for a slow cooker recipe like Beef Barbacoa. Serve with beans and rice. Bonus: Make a few lunches with the leftovers. Try my Sweet Potato Power Bowls.
Tuesday is usually my husband’s off day. I would hate to spend all night in the kitchen so I would make something quick like Crispy Chicken with Lemon Cream Sauce. I would serve it with a side of steamed broccoli.
Wednesday is for less dishes. Prep
something the night before or morning of that you can just pop in the oven. Try Easy Weeknight Chicken Pot Pie. Don’t expect leftovers!
Thursday Try a sheet pan meal. It’s as easy as throwing some chicken breast or steak medallions on a sheet pan, surrounded by vegetables and baby potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning.
Friday: Date night― no cooking for me!
Here’s a little glimpse into my thought process. Read this ahead of time and it will make your week much smoother.
Sunday: Prepare breakfast: Try my pumpkin oatmeal. once cooked, potion into individual containers. Chop veggies for pot pie and dice 2 sweet potatoes. Wash and slice lettuce for lunch power bowls. Make Chipotle Vinaigrette. Don’t forget to at least plan some snacks.
On Monday, make an extra cup of rice and an extra can of beans to make sure you have enough for lunch the following day.
On Tuesday, cook extra chicken breast and serve with a fresh vegetable for lunch the next day. Prep dinner for the next night.
Wednesday, enjoy washing your 2 pots and be grateful you already chopped up all your vegetables for that pot pie.
Thursday, Make sure you make enough vegetables for lunch the next day. Serve with any leftover pasta or rice from earlier in the week.
I find that by prepping this way, I waste less food and don’t feel like i’m on a restrictive diet. By maintaining a few choices I can keep things exciting.
Meal prep isn’t only for body builders, physique competitors, and dieters; it’s also for those looking to simplify their lives and wash less dishes!