If we are being real, the meal planning isnt what saves time & makes life easier during the week. It’s the prep that makes the difference.
This is obvious once you think about it: I can cut vegetables for four meals at the same time on Saturday, or I can do it four different times – after work, while my kids are melting down. I can clean up the prep work once, or four times. When I figured this out it blew my mind that I’d never thought of it before.
So, as an example: this coming week we are having chili, chicken fajitas, quinoa risotto, & a roast chicken dinner. On Saturday I slept in – all the way to 6:45, & at 7 I was in the kitchen making breakfast. Eggs, bacon, coffee, cinnamon rolls – we do weekend right.
At eight breakfast was done & cleared away, the kids were playing contentedly in the living room, & I was starting meal prep. By 10:15 the kitchen was clean, everything was done, & I was hanging out with my kids.
Here’s basically what I did:
Chili: the big one here is browning the meat. I saved the bacon grease in the pan, diced an onion, crushed a clove of garlic in & then added the pound of ground beef once the house smelled delicious. Flavored that with spices (oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, a little seasoned salt, we are out of chili powder, go figure).
I let that sit & started chopping veggies for the fajitas & the risotto.
Fajitas: this is all cutting. I tried to keep all the veggie cutting combined, so peppers & onions were cut, then I contaminated the cutting board with raw chicken. The package came with five breasts, so I took one & cut it in half to make two thinner pieces (like down the middle from the top? Idk how to describe this)
I sliced the chicken breasts into fajita-sized- strips & put them in a gallon size bag with the onion, pepper, & some seasonings (oregano, garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin…) & boom, Monday’s dinner is prepped. I put the other 2.5 chicken breasts in a separate ziplock bag in the freezer. Boom, next week supplies already.
Roast Chicken: Sunday we were having a roast chicken dinner & my mentality is if I have to clean up raw chicken mess, then I may as well kill two meals with one mess, y’know? So I got my old friend oven bags & some garlic cloves & I prepared the chicken for Sunday (post to come).
Quinoa risotto: you can read the recipe here, & I basically did exactly that. I loaded the dishwasher & wiped the counters down while the quinoa cooked, & then put it all in an oven & microwave safe bowl & tossed it in the fridge.
Start to finish just a hair over 2 hours & that includes stops to calm cranky babies & one diaper change. Not a bad price to pay for peace & calm in the coming week.
Ok, what are your meal prep secrets??