Managing a house hold is a lot like managing a restaurant. Especially if you have a lot of people in your home. Currently on staff, we have one daddy, one mommy, three growing boys, two dogs, one cat, and two turtles. Everyone has a job position. Yes, even the turtles..their job is to bring mommy peace when chaos inevitably erupts and believe me, it does..daily. But, I digress.
One project that helps us run a tight ship is meal planning and prepping. I usually save that undertaking for Sundays. Sunday funday certainly means something different now that I have a family. But I wouldn’t trade it!
With the help of my lovely family, we take Sunday, and begin to make a plan for what we’d like to eat for the week. Summers are a little different than the school season, but one thing remains consistent, it must be healthy. Planning ahead helps you stay on track and if you prep food then you’re well on your way to being successful at staying on track with healthy choices. Here is what a two week planning and prepping looks like for us.
Going to the grocery store is an event. I love going, but I know if I go without a list, I’ll throw caution to the wind. So, my advice is make a list and stick to it. If you need to, take a person that will ensure that you don’t deviate . That person in my life happens to be my husband, the protester of shopping. He likes to get in and get out. If I take him, we are not perusing the utensil aisle, looking for a new microplane. By the way, if you don’t have one, run and go get one! Click on the link to see my fave!
I like to pick a few proteins, assorted fruits and vegetables, a couple of dozen eggs, deli meats and cheeses, a couple of starchy choices, (like pasta or rice) some breakfast choices that include a selection of juices..whatever might be on sale. In this particular haul shown, I’ve also included some meal planning compartments that I love and work well for our family. There are tons of varieties out there so have fun shopping for the ones that fit best for your family. Finally, always have some disposable snack bags, plastic wrap, and foil wrap handy for safely storing other perishables items that the containers will not hold. The containers should be sturdy enough to store foods that will go into your refrigerator or freezer and be able to microwave when you’re ready to heat them.
Get variety in your menu by preparing some basic ingredients in advance—like proteins, vegetables, and starches that can be re-purposed in a number of different ways. Cooked chicken breasts, for example, can be used in pasta, soups or stews, stir frys, sandwiches, and more. A pot of black beans can become a taco salad or a burrito, chili, a rice & beans dish, or a vegan bowl.
The vegetables can be cut raw veggies, steamed, roasted, salad greens, etc.
With the left over cuts of vegetables, I like to make a veggie stock. The recipe is always different, but it’s essentially what ever you have left over from cutting up vegetables, some aromatics like fresh herbs, citrus, whole heads of garlic and onions, and salt & pepper. Throw in a pot, cover with water and simmer for an hour or two.
The protein can be baked, roasted, grilled, sautéed, or boiled. Bacon gets crumbled for salad, and chopped for breakfast, sandwiches, or thrown in wherever else it’s needed. Because it’s bacon and it’s always needed. We also boil a ridiculous amount of eggs because our house goes through a lot in a week.
Lunches, dinners, and snacks for the week are assembled and stored in the refrigerator for quick and easy access.
Week night meal….just prepare a quick sauce and your eating in minutes!
Make sauces, soups and stews with left over veggies and proteins, and store in the refrigerator for the week. We also make a big pot of sauce and freeze half of it.
Pro Tip: Don’t always feel like you have to cook these basic ingredients either! How about just buying a cooked chicken and shredding that up? Or getting that bag of frozen shrimp that’s already been shelled and cleaned to use in your Asian stir fry or fresh seafood salad. Take a shortcut and take it easy!
And don’t forget, what you don’t use up can be re-purposed in next week’s meals!
Left overs never go to waste in our home!
Look at that! Three repurposed week night meals! Don’t be afraid to get adventurous with your recipes. You can use any sauces, spices, or marinades at your disposal to keep your meals interesting and always tasty. Be creative and the possibilities are endless!
Kid tested and approved!!