I used to hate cooking, especially prepping for recipes and chopping vegetables. Inevitably that meant eating processed canned, boxed or frozen meals to make quick dinners. The problem with that is my taste buds are set to higher standards. So hubby and I spent much of our adult lives eating out (aka wasting money).
Fortunately I got bored of the local restaurant options and it seems the costs for dining out have doubled in that last decade and a half (as well as the inches on the body). So I became determined to spend time in the kitchen preparing delicious, healthy (and some not-as-healthy) meals. And this means chopping vegetables… lots and lots of vegetables.
Vegetables and I are friends now. I actually find it almost meditative to take great care and time with prepping my veggies for meals, sort of like knitting or crocheting. I first gather all the veggies I need, all the cutting boards, knives, and containers, and sit at the table and chop away. Something that used to get me tense when I wanted to hurry through it now makes me feel quite relaxed!
If you saw my menu for this week, (I know it’s a little odd with so much beef and breakfast items… some weeks just end up that way ya know?) you’ll see that I am trying to ditch 30 lbs and planned a week full of some favorite lowish carb options. We also have two boys in school that I send with a boxed lunch with lots of healthy snacks. My grocery cart was filled to the brim with fresh produce!
Here is a look at the steps I take for my weekly meal prep:
Step 1: Gather menu plan and recipes for the week and determine what can be prepped ahead of time.
Step 2: Take out from the freezer any meats and cheeses needed for the week.
Step 3: Gather all ingredients and containers, knives and cutting boards.
Step 4: Wash all produce that needs to be washed.
Step 5: Work through one meal at a time, chopping vegetables and/or meat and putting them in containers to use for the week.
WEEKLY MEAL PREP – 8.22.16 – 8.28.16
- Veggies – Chop carrots, celery and cucumbers and bag them up along with tomatoes for snacking. (Yes, I could buy celery and carrots pre-cut, but it only takes a few minutes to chop them, it’s less expensive to buy them whole, you have the rest to use for other recipes, and you deal with less packaging waste). Put ranch dressing dip into containers. Chop celery and green onions for chicken salad.
2. Chips and salsa – Bag up or put into containers chips. Make containers of salsa for dip.
3. Fruit – Peel and section oranges (put aside peels for making extract). Bag up or put into containers oranges and grapes. Set aside some grapes for chicken salad and throw the rest of them into freezer for use in smoothies.
4. Chicken salad wraps – Defrost pre-made grilled chicken (made a couple of weeks ago). Shred chicken and mix up dressing. Add grapes, celery and green onions. Measure into individual portions and bag up wraps. Normally I’d throw in pecans or walnuts to the salad but I didn’t have any.
5. Roast beef sandwiches – Later in the week I will defrost pre-cooked and sliced roast beef I made a couple of weeks ago and I will make a fresh loaf of bread for the final two days of their lunches.
6. Bag up all items into individual baggies, throw a Hershey’s Kiss in there for a treat and store in refrigerator.
- Brown 2lbs ground beef and take half out for Shepherd’s Pie and add taco seasoning to remaining beef. Drain and put into separate containers.
- Shepherd’s pie – Chop cauliflower for topping. Chop onions, parsley, celery and carrots. Put into containers.
- Beef stew – Chop carrots, celery, onion and sweet potatoes.
- Burrito Supremes – Chop onion. (I chop all lettuce and tomato the day I use it). I also chop red cabbage and peel carrots for salad mixes.
- Breakfast for dinner, Breakfast burritos and Spaghetti Squash Carbonara – Cook bacon. (I will cook the spaghetti squash same day to avoid having to microwave it).
- Southwest chicken salad and quesadillas – everything will be made fresh for this meal.
The time spent prepping these meals ensures that there is less food waste and makes it easier to decide to eat at home than going out to eat.
Have you found ways to make getting lunches and dinners easier? I’m always looking for new ideas!
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