Happy Friday Everyone!
I have had a lot of people ask me lately about eating cleaner and making it work for a busy lifestyle. Left face it, we are all busy!
My husband and I were recently discussing taking on a new business venture and he quickly said, “now you know this may mean more convenient meals.” REALLY?? If you know me, I took that as a challenge. So what does making dinner look like for our house? Let me break it down for you.
Let me just start by saying, I have done food/meal prep a lot of different ways, and they all work depending on what else is going on.
I call this the lazy man’s meal prep ( my current form ) It is usually the protein of the meal that I find myself struggling with when not prepared. It either needs to be thawed or we just plain don’t have it. My solution; when I go to the grocery store and buy my meat, I cook it before I put it away. For our house, meat is usually chicken, ground turkey and pork chops. I season my meats with the same typical spices, or none at all. This allows for future modifications. For instance, plain chicken breasts can be shredded and tossed with salsa for taco night. Ground turkey can be put in eggs, thrown on a salad or put in a lettuce wrap. I am not even going to lie, on my high protein days I have been known to walk around the house with a pork chop in my hand!
Have you even been here before? Standing in the refrigerator starving, knowing you should have a salad and having no yummy toppings at your fingertips. You have the veggies, but all. that. work. to cut them up….. Here is an idea. Cut them up when you get home from the store, before you put them away! Tupperware with diced peppers, tomatoes, onions and cucumbers will last in the refrigerator for the whole week. Besides the salads, you can put them in your scrambled eggs in the morning. You never know, maybe your kiddos will reach for a cut up cucumber instead of chips for a crunchy snack.
So as you may notice, I have not actually made any full meals, but I have laid a good foundation for them. So another way of prepping that produces results is what I call the tomorrow today idea. When I am making dinner, I am making extras for tomorrow. If I am cooking already, why not make extra? So, say I am cooking 3 pounds of chicken breasts. If I have seasoned breasts tonight, maybe we have tomorrows with bar b que sauce..same yet different. Just last week I made a whole box of quieno. The first night I added salsa for a southwest theme, the next night I added garlic and shreaded cheese. Another example, our cookout this weekend. The grill was fired up so why not cook all of our veggies? Grilled squash, Brussel sprouts and asparagus. One for each of the next three nights. Your hubby just helped you meal prep without even knowing it!
Do you love your crock pot? I do, but I don’t always have time in the morning to get it all together. Most dinners made in my crock pot are actually not for today,but for tomorrow. I can still set it and forget it, but I can do it in the afternoon and let it cook until bedtime if it is easier for my schedule. I also use my crock as a defroster instead of a cooker. My husband is a great sport, but he does not love chicken breasts cooked in the crock pot. We typically buy them frozen to cut costs, so It is not a quick turn around from freezer to plate. If I put them in the crock early to start cooking/defrosting, I can throw them in the oven to finish up to prevent drying out.
If you are a 9-5’er you may benefit from a day of prepping individual meals in quick to grab Tupperware. This takes a little more prep on one day, but saves time, money and stress later. All of the previous ideas apply, but the final step is to break the food groups down into individual meals (1 meat, 1 veggie and 1 carb). One of my favorite meal prep ideas is the salad in a mason jar. It must have something to do with the glass, but these suckers will stay good all week! So, cut up your veggies and layer them in the bottom of a mason jar from the heartiest on the bottom up to the lettuce. You can even add your dressing in the very bottom, the only thing soaking in it is your harder veggies like carrots, so they hold up well. After you have filled in your veggies fill it to the top with your lettuce and seal it up. I have even done avocado which made me nervous but it held up well too. I also know people who have added their shredded chicken to complete the meal.
I hope that my crazy meal prep plans can work for you too! I would love to hear feedback on what has worked for you or any new ideas!