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The Daily Dish~ Meal Prepping 101!

April 17th, 2013 - Daily Dish, How-To, Inspiration

32

Does the thought of preparing food for your family during the week overwhelm you, or seem like it is just one more thing that you ‘have to do‘, but barely have time for?!?

I remember feeling this way when I was in nursing school, (and that was when I was only cooking for myself!) It wasn’t long after I got married that I realized that cooking every meal on the spot was not easy, especially if I was going to stay on track with healthy eating.  (Let’s face it… sometimes when you  are overly hungry or busy it’s easy to grab anything in sight, regardless of how healthy it is!) If that sounds familiar in any way, don’t worry… there is a solution!

I have found that the best possible way to live a healthy lifestyle and have healthy and delicious meals all week long is by meal prepping once for the whole week.

There are so many benefits to having one (or two) meal prep days during the week, but some of the best things about it is that it saves me time, money, and stress, all the while allowing me to stay on track with eating healthy.

Sound intriguing?!? Well… Let me show you how it’s done in just a few simple steps!

STEP 1: PLAN & SHOP 

I begin meal planning by making a list of recipes on my “Favorites Board”. (This can be found under the membership section of Dashing Dish.) I create a ‘favorites’ list each week based on what I want to have for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners.  

From there I write down the ingredient list for each recipe. (I generally divide the ingredient list by 2 if I plan to prepare it for my husband and I and it is a recipe that calls for four servings or more). After writing out my grocery list I double check that I don’t already have something in my fridge or pantry. Then… I’m off to the grocery store!

If this step alone overwhelms you, this is where my meal plans come in! I have done all the work for you! They are broken down into the recipes, shopping lists, and even meal prep ideas for each week, based on the servings you need!

STEP 2: PREPARE THE FOOD

When I get home from the grocery store I generally don’t put any of the groceries away, (unless of course they are frozen and will melt quickly)…I simply take everything out of the grocery bag and set it out on the counter, putting things in organized piles according to each recipe. I then pull up my favorites list and get to cooking! I generally start with the breakfasts and move on from there.

Throughout the week I typically have a protein shake for breakfast, but I find that many of my breakfast recipes are great for mid-morning snacks, and/or if I am in need of a breakfast on-the-go. If I don’t end up eating them I simply freeze them for a time that I am in need of a quick and healthy snack!

This week I made my PB & J Protein Pancakes.

Some hard boiled eggs, (my husband loves these as a breakfast side and snack!)

Strawberry Baked Protein Oatmeal, (recipe to come!)

And for a snack I made my Protein Blueberry Muffins (recipe to come!)

For lunches and dinners I generally prepare big batches of veggies and lean meats to use in my recipes.

I like to cook my veggies in big batches either in a sauté pan or on a big roasting pan. That way they are ready as sides, snacks, or to add to a recipe.  I use this method of cooking in my Zucchini Chip recipe and Parmesan Green Bean recipe, but you can do this with any veggie.

One of my favorite ways to prepare chicken is in the crockpot! I make big batches and use the shredded chicken in my recipes for the week! If I am making Crockpot Shredded Chicken to prepare my recipes, I generally pop some frozen chicken in the crockpot and set it to high heat the morning of my meal prepping day. (That way it is all ready when I am ready to start meal prepping!)

If the recipes call for sautéed chicken or lean ground meat, I will cook it in big batches in my biggest pan! That way I am only prepping chicken and/or lean ground meat once for all the recipes!

STEP 3: PUT EVERYTHING TOGETHER TO MAKE THE RECIPES

For lunches I typically make something really simple such as a couple big salads and wrap sandwiches and put them in Tupperware containers or wrap them in foil individually. (Leftovers from dinner are also a great option!)

For dinners I typically make a few different main dishes and a couple of side dishes. 

This week I made my Three Cheese Stuffed Peppers

My Baked Mac & Cheese

and my BBQ Chicken Sweet Potatoes!

STEP 4: PUT IT ALL AWAY! 

After all the food is prepped and the recipes are made, I put everything in Tupperware containers and place it in the fridge! That way I have something to throw in a cooler if I am heading out for the day or to pop in the microwave and/or oven to heat up and have a delicious dinner on the table in minutes!

This whole process from start to finish takes anywhere from 2-3 hours. I typically pick a block of time on the weekend to get it done. I hope this post helps show you how easy it can be to prepare meals for the week in just one day. If you are still scratching your head, don’t let it discourage you!!! It can take time to learn and get in the swing of things. And if that’s you, a great place to start may be my meal plans…But before you know it, it will become a part of your routine and you may even find yourself loving it!!!

32 Comments

Amanda Silva said:

I am going to try this!! This looks like it would save tons of time! Thanks for all the wonderful ideas! Your website is such a blessing! :) One question ~ do you actually cook the veggies ahead of time? Just wondering how those would be reheated? Sorry if that seems like a silly question!

Hope you have a great day! :)

April 17th, 2013 — 11:11am  |  Reply

Autumn said:

You can just microwave them when you are ready to eat!

November 18th, 2013 — 6:02pm  | 

Paulo Fortes said:

WOW! Great stuff. I was struggling with this thing of preparing my recipes for the whole week, but now I realized that with planning and patiance everuthing is possible. I normally prepare mey meals on sundays and wednedays. I’ll try to do it just on sundays. reat blog. Hugs from Brasil!

April 17th, 2013 — 11:37am  |  Reply

Emily said:

I have sort of the same question as Amanda! I am new to food prep and also concerned about which types of foods don’t last a full week in the refrigerator once they have been prepped. Are there certain foods that should be left until you’re ready to eat them? Thanks!

April 17th, 2013 — 12:16pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

all food lasts 5 days in the fridge…i dont prep for weekends :)

April 17th, 2013 — 12:25pm  | 

Carolyn Whalen said:

I have kind of a similiar question as the others. Do you completely cook your side dishes such as zucchini chip, broccoli, etc and then store in the refrig? Or do you just do the cutting of the veggies and prepare what goes into the oven? Also, for the main dishes like the BBQ chicken in sweet potatoes do you prepare it up until the final baking? Thanks for your help.

April 18th, 2013 — 12:47am  |  Reply

Chantelle Wood said:

This is really helpful Katie. Thanks for posting great, practical advice!!

April 18th, 2013 — 12:49am  |  Reply

Carolyn Whalen said:

I had another question. Do you have a recipe for the salad that you have pictured? What is in it and what is the dressing? Thanks again!

April 18th, 2013 — 12:50am  |  Reply

Holly Jochims said:

Do you purchase shredded cheese (notably the parmesan)? If so what brand do you use? One of the most time consuming parts for me is grating cheese. If you grate your own, what type of grater do you use?

April 18th, 2013 — 6:49am  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

i buy it grated…no particular brand

April 18th, 2013 — 9:15am  | 

chelsea said:

Thank you!!! This is SO helpful :-) One question- are you setting up some of the main things & then baking them the day of? Or do you really cook & put it fully together & then just reheat? I’m guessing there’s no hard & fast rule, that it would depend on the (Dashing) Dish but…what helps you discern the difference?

April 18th, 2013 — 1:27pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

Good question Chelsea! :) I will not bake it if it tastes better baked fresh…(example usually something that would get soggy if baked ahead of time like enchiladas), but if not, then i bake it right then and just re-heat it in the micro! :)

April 18th, 2013 — 3:25pm  | 

emily said:

It makes so much sense to do it right after you get hom from the store! Thanks for the tips! I already feel that this will make my week less stressful!

April 20th, 2013 — 4:41pm  |  Reply

Erin said:

Hi there, I was also wondering if you cook the veggies all the way for the week? This has been very helpful and motivating. Thank you! :)

April 20th, 2013 — 6:10pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

it depends on the veggie…but yes when i cook them, i cook them all the way :)

April 20th, 2013 — 9:21pm  | 

Kristy said:

I’ve had pretty good luck using Tupperware’s Fridgesmart containers..

A cashier at a local market I go to quite often to buy fresh fruits and veggies told me about them.. :)

http://order.tupperware.com/coe/app/!tw$shop.p_category?pv_ic_code=25000

I have noticed though that a lot of the time even with these containers, that how long produce will last also depends on how fresh the produce is when purchased.. So keep that in mind too :)

April 25th, 2013 — 12:53pm  | 

Stephanie Sullivan said:

Katie, what kind of containers do you keep your salad greens in? I have bought numerous plastic containers but nothing keeps them fresh and they usually start turning brown within a couple of days. Any advice? Thanks!

April 21st, 2013 — 10:03am  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

i dont actually assemble teh salads until the day that i’m going to eat them :( i have the same issue!

April 21st, 2013 — 1:16pm  | 

Kristy :: MakeLifeCute.com said:

Heehee… ooops! My comment above was meant for Stephanie! My bad! :)

April 25th, 2013 — 12:57pm  | 

Liz said:

I use Mason Jars and prep all ingredients in advance. They stay fresh between six and eight days depending on how fresh your produce is. I have instructions here. http://xrsizeforlife.com/2013/01/04/masonjarsalads/

May 3rd, 2013 — 8:57pm  | 

Clare said:

i saw a solution to this online and have used it the past few weeks, i buy bagged baby leaves and usually a couple of little gem lettuces and put all leaves in a large tupperware but DO NOT put the lid on, instead lay a piece of kitchen paper over the top, it will stop any condensation from making the leaves soggy!

May 20th, 2013 — 7:15am  | 

Carolyn Whalen said:

I wrote two other messages and did not get a reply so I thought I would try again. My second question had to do with your salad that you have pictured. Do you have a recipe for it? It looks so good and I am trying to eat more salads.
Thanks.

April 21st, 2013 — 4:36pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

I don’t have a recipe it is just veggies and chicken on a bed of lettuce :)

April 21st, 2013 — 8:47pm  | 

Katie said:

Bane of my existence is perfecting hard-boiled eggs. Care to share your technique? I love trying to compare what works well with others with my successes since it seems to change every time!

April 21st, 2013 — 6:23pm  |  Reply

Dashing Dish said:

Check my egg salad recipe :)

April 21st, 2013 — 8:51pm  | 

Angela said:

You might try baking them instead! For whatever reason I have never been able to hard boil eggs – they always come out either under-done or so rubbery they’re almost inedible. I don’t know why either, my mother taught me her method for hard-boiled eggs years ago and I would follow it to the letter, but while her eggs came out perfectly done, mine would be terrible.

Check out Alton Brown’s oven baked eggs. The first time (and ever time since) that I tried it I have had success!

April 29th, 2013 — 4:31pm  | 

julia ou said:

your blog is so cute! love all the healthy recipes :)

May 9th, 2013 — 11:03pm  |  Reply

kayla said:

this is so awesome.really motivated me. thanks

May 9th, 2013 — 11:41pm  |  Reply

chef zakir said:

i am agree with you kayla. It will be tasty. I will try.

June 28th, 2013 — 2:35pm  |  Reply

Jennifer Brumit said:

Do you have the strawberry baked oatmeal recipe posted yet? Looks so yummy!
JennB

September 23rd, 2013 — 12:02pm  |  Reply

Dara said:

Another helpful tip: don’t use a metal spatula on non-stick. It’ll scratch it and put the non-stick coating into your food…

November 5th, 2013 — 9:23pm  |  Reply

Yying said:

I saw your blog and have been trying our meal prep for a week as well. Would love to get your opinion on how I did healthylivying.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/meal-prep-first-timer/ :)

July 2nd, 2014 — 3:02am  |  Reply

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