Spend less time in the Kitchen with once a week Food Prep!
I’m willing to bet that you’ve seen at least one person on social media spending part of their Sunday doing food prep to get ready for the week. Having food ready to go for the week can make your week run much more smoothly and will give you so much more time to do other things. If you work full time you really can go as far as packing your lunch containers for the entire week so you can make sure you’re getting high quality food AND saving money- who doesn’t love that? Even if you don’t work outside of the home meal prep can be a huge help. There’s less to think about when you want something for lunch and you have plenty of already prepared food in the fridge.
There are lots of different ways to do meal prep and since I’m lucky enough to work from home I prefer meal prep on Mondays when my daughter’s in preschool. When I worked full time out of the home my meal prep strategy was a little different- I made tons of dinners and home made baby food and kept them in the freezer so they’d be ready for meals or daycare.
Once I switched to working part time from home I mostly stopped meal prepping because I thought I’d have plenty of time to figure out meals – ha! oh how naive I was! So when I started meal prepping again it took on a different form. I don’t want to cook lunch for myself everyday, it just takes too much time, and I’m not a fan of eating cold, raw salads when it’s cold out so I’ve shifted things around a bit and here are some of the things that have made my life a whole lot easier and I hope they help you too!
Wash and chop all your veggies. You can either store them in containers so they’re ready to cook when you need them or you can roast them in advance. Or you can do a combination.
Some great fall veggies that I like to roast are: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, all types of winter squash, beets, carrots and pumpkin.
Recently I’ve been choosing a few of them (making sure I have at least one that my picky daughter will like) and simply roasting them with some olive oil and sea salt and if I’m feeling really fancy I’ll toss in some chopped garlic too!
Since I’ve been roasting my veggies I’ve been choosing to roast potatoes and sweet potatoes in the same way- they make a great breakfast when topped with an egg!
You can also choose a grain for the week and make a lot of it so that you can keep re-using it. Quinoa is great to mix with roasted veggies and some protein but you could also make rice, kasha, couscous, millet- whatever fits your fancy! Since you’re already planning in advance don’t forget to take the extra step of soaking your grains for a few hours and if you happen to have some bone broth around use it to cook your grains and give yourself some extra immune boosting!
Beans are also great to have on hand and making a large batch of them is simple! Just soak dried beans overnight and either cook them in a slow cooker or on the stovetop for a few hours, season them and store them in the fridge. If you don’t feel like making them from scratch just grab some pre-cooked ones (make sure to chose ones packed in a box or in a BPA-free can). Instead of keeping them in the can take it a step farther and get prepare them with some seasonings so they’re literally ready to go when you need them.
So far my slow cooker has been my saving grace. You can make large batches of protein to keep on hand to throw together with your roasted veggies and grains, or even use for sandwiches, soups or salads. Here are some of my favorites:
Beef Stew– When you make very large batches of hearty soups you can save what you’re not going to eat in a large ziplock bag- lay it flat in the freezer to it takes up less space and pull it out when you need a quick dinner!
Roasted Chicken which you can make either in the oven or in the slow cooker. Shred the chicken when it’s done cooking and you’ll have plenty of chicken for whatever you can think of. Don’t forget to keep the bones so you can make bone broth!
Meatballs, whether chicken, turkey, beef, pork or a mixture of these they can’t be any easier to make. If you want to use a slow cooker line the bottom with some tomato sauce so they stay moist and you can even try cutting a spaghetti squash in half and putting it on top of the meatballs so they all cook together.
Salsa Chicken is about as simple as it gets. Pour a little organic salsa on the bottom on the slow cooker then toss about 5 or 6 chicken breasts on top and then cover with some more salsa and cook on low for about 6 hours until it shreds easily. I hear you can do the same with salsa verde but I haven’t tried it yet.
Chili is the perfect mix of beans and ground beef and it’s so delicious when it’s cold outside. I start my beans in the slow cooker on high and then switch it to low after four hours, add the ground beef and give it a few more hours. (Don’t salt the beans until they’re fully cooked so they don’t contract and get hard!)
Pot roast and pork tenderloin are also easy enough to make in the slow cooker! Basically any of your favorite proteins can be made in advance, except fish- I’d keep that for making fresh.
Keep it interesting!
If you make the same thing over and over you’re sure to get bored so try different proteins, veggies and grains every week so switch it up.
Having the veggies and grains ready to go will make dinner prep so much easier- I still try to do some meal planning and make dinner every night. The food I prep during the week is what I mainly use for my lunches, my husbands lunches, snacks and sometimes even to add to my daughters lunchbox.
If you’re working full time I highly suggest investing in some glass containers and getting your lunches ready for the week- you’ll have one less thing to worry about at night. Or at the least make a plan of what you want to take for lunch each day.
Wash your fruit so they’re ready to grab when you need a snack and cut up some carrots and celery to go with hummus or guacamole for a quick snack.