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!!!