is anyone enjoying this autumn weather as much as me?!
uh, no. 😉
but really!! forget winter, THIS is the “most wonderful time of the year”. I’m snacking on a pumpkin butterscotch cookie, cuddled under a ginormous plaid blanket, as I type. there is nothing better, my friends.
I love EVERYTHING about fall!!
the pumpkins, the crisp air, the leaves crunching, the cozy layers of knits and scarves to nuzzle one’s face into… but you guys… the food. the glorious, heavenly food!
fall. food. is. the. best. food.
am I right?!
soups, hot sandwiches, hearty vegetables, and savory sauces and seasonings on everything… all the baking and time spent heating up the house with a stove full of tasty treats… autumnal food has a special place in my heart!! 🙂
a while back I shared this AMAZING recipe for pumpkin chili with you from dear meg and her blog, and the response was wild! y’all loved it!! (by the way, she’s been recording her whole 30 progress in completely real-life language and down-to-earth struggles and wins, and you should totally go check it out! I’ll wait 😉 )
so today I wanted to share with you some straight up, easy-to-follow tips on meal prep.
you’ve seen the pinterest photos. dozens of containers lined up in a row, filled with delicious food already prepared for the week ahead… intimidating, right?! that’s totally what I thought too, before I started. I had no idea where to even begin!! ahhhh!!! 😦
but, after several failed attempts, abandoned ideas, and frustrated surrenders, I finally found a way that 1) actually worked, 2) didn’t take all day, 3) can be modified to whatever you’re cooking.
I guess the first question really is…. WHY meal prep?
“if I’m already meal-planning, what’s the point?”
good question 😉
meal planning is AWESOME. in my house, it’s a must. (I wrote all about how to do it, with printables here!!) but sometimes you need to take that extra step…
1.) it’s a really busy week, and you won’t have time to think about what to eat for lunch. instead of using up dollars and calories, or forgoing the meal altogether, grab a healthy, pre-made lunch, and duck out the door (or back to your studies, computer, etc.).
2.) you’re getting home late, and are way too tired to be cooking. instead of heading to chick fil a (I know it’s wonderful…) and spending $7 a meal, just snag your prepared meal from the fridge, pop it in the microwave, and… instant, healthy, delicious dinner.
3.) you find yourself being tempted to grab fast food on the way home because you don’t really like to cook, and, to be honest… it’s fast.
4.) one-time cooking & cleaning. no need to spend a couple hours every day fixing breakfast, lunch, and dinner! just take 2-3 hours on one day, and get it ALL DONE. (this might be my favorite part!) 🙂
if any of those sound like you, it’s time to try meal prepping!!! 🙂
don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be scary.
it can be a really great experience that saves you both time (all your cooking for the week is DONE!!) and money (no more fast-food trips or impulse purchases throughout the week!).
to start, here’s what we’ll be eating this week:
overnight chia oatmeal (peanut butter, pumpkin, & plain with fruit)
multi-berry smoothie with chia seeds
cheese stick + fruit + yogurt
egg + fruit + cheese stick
chicken salad on a pita with cold veggies
chicken salad on a bed of greens
veggie stir fry on rice
cold veggies + cheese stick + peanut butter
chicken tacos on baked potato
apple juice chicken with rice & green beans
rosemary lemon chicken over pasta with carrots
chili lime chicken & pepper stir fry
chicken & rice soup with cornbread
***you may have noticed I only included 6 dinner options. that’s because J & I have a date night on monday where we go out and get huge $6 burgers at Cheeseburger In Paradise.*** 😉
you might not need as many breakfast/lunch options as I like to have! I get pretty easily bored with eating the same thing every day…
- make a meal plan & grocery shopping list.
use these printables, or just scratch it out on your own 🙂
- go grocery shopping.
- prepare to prepare.
make sure there’s enough room in your kitchen area to spread out. pull in a table if necessary. lay out all of your groceries by type. set out your meal plan where you can see it. make sure any recipes you need are on hand. pretty simple so far, eh? 🙂
- begin with the things that can cook/prep on their own.
start your rice, and preheat the oven for any chicken breasts you need to bake, or for things like baked potatoes. once you start them, they’ll do their own thing, while you focus on more hands-on stuff!!
- wash produce, and start on portioned snacks.
again, this is pretty simple. wash and cut all of your produce, and use snack size ziplock baggies to put them into easy-to-grab snacks. this week, i have grapes, celery, and baby carrots. don’t forget to set aside any veggies that you need for recipes. I set aside some peppers and celery for stir frys and to put into chicken salad, respectively. this is also a great time to throw together any pre-made salads. grab some of those great little disposable plastic containers to hold sauces, dips, and dressings (50 for $1.50 at giant!) and fix those up now, too.
- any easy-to-make cold entrees are fixed next.
this is stuff like chicken salad, portioned-out lunch meat, etc. mix it up or portion this stuff in a breeze, then stick it in its respective container and store it. all done!
- stovetop cooking comes next.
your produce is done, your snacks are pre-made, your salads are done. time to start on the most hands-on and probably the most strenuous (and LAST) part. 🙂 your rice should probably be done cooking at this point, too, so just set it to the side, covered. if you’re pan cooking chicken, start that now. if you’ve already cooked it in the oven, use this next time to season it. also throw any stir fry veggies in a pan, and cook them up.
- microwave cooking & assembly
throw any microwaveable freezer veggies in now, as you put your rice, pasta, stir fry, or potatoes in your containers, along with the entree. then add any microwaved veggies!
throw it all in the fridge (with labels, if that’s your thing), and YOU’RE DONE!!
I like to organize everything by breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.
there’s nothing quite like grabbing a delicious, pre-made dinner from the fridge, popping it in the microwave, and being able to eat right away 🙂
(for this taco potato, I stored the potato and meat separately, then heated them each up and threw on the cheese and corn. a plastic fork means almost no clean-up!)
I’m hoping to show you each night’s meal this week, so you can see how easy, fun, and delicious prepared meals can be!!
HAPPY PREPPING!! 🙂