I am pretty intense about meal planning, living within your means, and feeding a family.
Since getting married and having my son I have been on a constant quest to feed my family as well as I can, while enjoying my life and staying within my budget.
Only in the last few months have I really started concentrating on Sunday meal prep. Technically you could meal prep any day, but for those of us with jobs outside the home and a hectic schedule, the weekend is the best time for us to prep.
For the purposes of this article I am going to use Sunday as an example.
The more you practice weekly meal prep the easier and faster it will become.
Over time my knife skills have improved and I have slowly developed the ability to multitask in the kitchen. In case you were wondering, I still cannot multitask anywhere else.
How to Meal Prep Without Losing Your Mind
Ok, if you have not read my Budgeting and stocking the pantry posts I suggest you go back and check them out. Reading them will put you in a better position to do the actual shopping part. I like to shop on Saturday and Prep on Sunday.
Gather Your Supplies
First, in order to really organize your food for the week you will need to invest in a few supplies. Suggestions might be glass food storage containers, Gladware type containers, and Ziplock bags in various sizes. I use Ziplocks because I can lay them in the fridge without leaks.
Divide and Conquer
Next, if you are planning to make 3 dinners for the week check and make sure you have all the needed ingredients.
Then determine how you can use ingredients more than once. For example – you might be making 2 different recipes using chicken. Divide your 3 pounds of chicken into two separate portions.
Do the same thing with other ingredients.
Gather what you need for each meal individually so you can see it visually in front of you. If you can do this type of organizing in your head feel free to skip this step. For me, it helps to see it right in front of my face. (ADHD bleh)
Determine What Needs to Be Prepped First
On Sundays I prep and serve my first dinner of the week. This is the meal that influences what I can prep for my next meal on Tuesday. Here is an example:
Last Sunday my family really wanted lasagna, so I had defrosted 2 pounds of my ground beef. I browned all of the meat at one time, because I knew that I could use the rest of it on Tuesday to make my next meal.
Assembling and baking the lasagna first enabled me to do other things while it was cooking.
As I demonstrated above, I was able to brown enough ground beef for two different meals in about 15 minutes. The extra meat went into a glass container for a few days until I was ready for it.
Using the Lasagna example above, I actually pre-cooked and shredded a bunch of chicken while the lasagna was baking. In effect, saving myself cooking time later in the week when I planned to use the chicken.
Pre-Chop and Pre-Cook Side Dishes
Since we are carnivores around here, I can focus on sides and other ingredients once I have settled on a protein source. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you might want to soak your beans and cook your grains first.
Don’t Sweat Breakfast and Lunch
To be honest, I don’t spend much time planning out breakfast and lunch.
Each member of my family has their own preferences, so I shop accordingly. My husband eats the same Cheerios every day. My son enjoys yogurt or what he calls chia toast.
If you have the space you might want to portion out your lunches or boil your eggs for snacking. This could be done while you prep your sides and chop your veggies.
The whole point of spending an hour or two meal prepping on the weekend is to make your life easier during the week.
It is easier to pull out lasagna and reheat it, or grab some chicken to top a salad on the fly if both are ready to go. I have said it before and I will say it again:
Finally, remember you do not have to take an entire day to meal prep. The more you practice the faster you will get.
I don’t like to cook every single day. So I plan ahead and I prep.
I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with something to show you as an example of how I prep my food each week.
One of my favorite resources for meal prep is Lindsay Livingston, R.D. of The Lean Green Bean. She has an easy and manageable system for weekly meal-prep. She even shares photos of her own work. Check her out! http://www.theleangreenbean.com/food-prep/
I highly recommend her ebook. No, I am not getting affiliate commission. She is just that good!
How do you feel about meal prep?
Have you ever tried it?