I can’t say enough how much meal prep can help with a busy school, work, life week.
For the last few months, I have been so thankful for the time I get to spend in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon and the amount of time I’m saving during the week. It’s all about choosing our meals, creating a list, having a plan and putting it all into action! AND, since I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist and love being organized (just ask Frank), this is one of those things that allows me to set the tone for a great week ahead!
First on the meal prep to-do list is choosing our meals! I like to think of it in four simple parts; breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I told you it was simple!
During the week our breakfasts consist of oatmeal (homemade whole grain oats and sugar-free instant oatmeal packets), ezekiel toast, eggs and beans (for Frank) and smoothies made with fresh and frozen fruits. We almost always have lots of oatmeal on hand and the freezer is consistently packed with frozen fruits. Our main breakfast condiments include nut butter, jam, honey/agave, cinnamon and hot sauce.
Lunches are almost always fresh salads with chicken, but we do switch it up every once in a while and make wraps with turkey. Dressings include: olive oil with lemon, salt and pepper or olive oil with balsamic, salt and pepper.
Snacks include fresh fruits and vegetable sticks, with store bought granola bars (FiberOne, Kashi or Quest Bars), or homemade no-bake granola bars/protein oat balls (recipe below).
Our breakfast, lunch and snacks are simple and pretty consistent across the board for the week. Dinner however, is planned more specifically for each night.
Last week’s dinner menu:
- Sunday: Homemade cauliflower pizza with spring salad and tomatoes (recipe coming soon!)
- Monday: Salmon with zucchini and roasted sweet potatoes
- Tuesday: Chicken teriyaki with roasted broccoli and Asian slaw
- Wednesday: Swordfish with pineapple salsa, kale stir-fry and roasted sweet potatoes (recipe coming soon!)
- Thursday: Simple turkey chili (I made enough to freeze half) with kale salad
- Friday: Wing it with what’s left!
- Saturday: Out
1. Before you start your list, make sure to check your fridge and pantry for any ingredients you might already have.
2. I always list my groceries based on the sections within the grocery store. Thanks mom! This makes it easier to navigate the store and read your list without skipping or forgetting anything!
3. The majority of our grocery list focuses on fresh produce which means we tend to stay in the outer areas of the grocery store. Generally, the aisles contain most processed foods. We often skip most of the aisles with the exception of some (breakfast oats, condiments, international foods, canned items and frozen fruits and vegetables).
4. Eat something before you go! I’m sure you’ve heard this before–go to the grocery store hungry, and you’ll walk out with more than a few items that you didn’t intend on buying (most of which are unhealthy, too!).
Here is what we picked up last week:
- Unsweetened almond milk (We drink Silk Almond Milk)
- Fat-free mozzarella
- Lettuce (Spring mix)
- Pepper (tri-color bag)
- Spinach (steam bag)
- Curly kale (Cheaper than buying packaged)
- Baby carrots
- Baby-bella mushrooms
- Red onion
- Fresh basil
- Lemons and limes
- Sweet potatoes
Meats and Fish
- Fresh salmon (On sale!)
- Frozen swordfish
- Black beans
- Garbanzo beans
- Red kidney beans
- Diced tomatoes with seasoning
- Tomato sauce
- Pizza sauce
- Tin foil
Once returning home from the grocery store, we put everything away and then the preparation begins!
Rinse and chop all veggies (for topping salads and roasting):
Rinse and slice strawberries (I like to cut larger pieces for snacking, smaller slices for topping oatmeal, and once in a while, halves for strawberry infused ice cubes):
Marinate (top photo: kale rinsed and cleaned, drizzled with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, seal tight and refrigerate/bottom photo: teriyaki chicken marinated with soy sauce, green onions, garlic, chili garlic sauce, rice wine vinegar and a spoonful of hoisin; freeze for a quick weeknight meal):
Rinse all the beans:
Cook the quinoa:
Then the hardboiled eggs:
Season, bake and shred/chop the chicken:
No-bake peanut butter oat protein balls (with recipe):
I know you’re probably thinking these look like meatballs and I’m a crazy person, but really they’re peanut butter protein balls and made with just a few nutritious ingredients!
No-Bake Peanut Butter Oat Protein Balls
In the mix:
1/2 cup, nut butter of your choice (I used half Teddy’s chunky peanut butter and half nuts n more pumpkin peanut butter)
1/4 cup agave (you can also use honey)
1 cup of whole grain oats
3 tbsp chia seeds (or use ground flax–I like the crunch of chia seeds though)
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
1 scoop of chocolate protein powder (or any flavor of protein!)
- Heat nut butter and agave so they are well combined and warmed through
- Mix oats and protein powder
- Pour nut butter mixture on top of oats and mix well
- Add chia seeds and shredded coconuts
- Roll into one-inch thick balls
- Place balls in a flat pan/dish and put in the freezer for 30 minutes
- Refrigerate and they’re ready to eat when you are!
Taking these steps might seem like a whole lot of time and energy, but this is part of my cooking joy. It’s become a time for me to think about my week ahead and when he can, Frank joins in to help, too! It takes around 3 hours each Sunday (Including 1 hour for groceries) and in the long run, you’re saving yourself a ton of time during the week when you have other things to focus on. Prioritize, plan and you’ll be whipping up delicious meals during the week in no time!