Once the week starts my time in the kitchen is pretty minimal. The key for me to get good, nutritional food on the table for myself and my family is prep! Does prep mean hours in the kitchen over the weekend? Absolutely not. Many weeks I might take an hour in the kitchen to prep, but that is IT. Seriously. Some weeks I will take more if I have some time on my hands over the weekend, but for the most part it’s minimal. It’s hardly any extra time, and it saves me hours in my week.
Here is what a little prep looked like this past weekend.
Friday night has become pasta night in our house. The kids have a lot of sports over the weekend. Although we love a good Friday night pizza, we have decided that it’s not the best meal to fuel them well. So it’s pasta instead.
This past Friday, I planned a simple meal of spaghetti. I cooked up a spaghetti squash in the instant pot for John and me, and spaghetti noodles for the kids and me. I like to mix some of the squash with noodles. I get more bang for my buck this way. Along with the noodles, I air fried and grilled a bunch of chicken tenders (in the yogurt, ranch marinade). That’s it. The kids like a good store bought marinara, so all I did was warm some already made marinara and presto – a meal, and then some, was born. I cooked extra of everything, so we have this meal to eat again tonight for dinner. What we don’t eat tonight will go into the freezer for another meal later on. My family is pretty good about leftovers, but if they grumble at all I put it in the freezer for another week. This way it feels like a fresh cooked meal that we can be excited about all over again. 😉
This past weekend was a gorgeous weekend weather-wise, so we took advantage of using the grill. Saturday night we did up a bunch of burgers with salad and a big batch of baked beans (again, I just made extra beans for future meals).
Sunday was my bigger day of prep. I cooked up cauliflower rice in the microwave so it’s cooked and ready to be reheated. I took one bag of the cauliflower rice and put it in a container for rice and whatever else we might want it for. The other bag I divided into containers along with some oats, cinnamon, and almond milk for overnight oats. I will sweeten and add toppings to my preference when I go to eat later.
I cooked up a big bag of sweet potatoes in the oven. If I’m going have the oven going for over an hour – I figure I may as well do up the entire batch. I will freeze what doesn’t get eaten in the next few days (though I don’t know if I will have a problem with that).
I sliced up onion and pepper and air fried these for salads and sides to meats/meals (forgot to get a picture of just these).
We grilled up a batch of brats and pork burgers, which we will be able to have for the week as well.
Finally, I cooked up a batch of hard boiled eggs in the instant pot (my favorite method for hard boiling eggs) and chopped for salads.
Along with the food that I prepped, I have a big container of spinach and green leaf lettuce chopped and ready to go. I also have cauliflower and broccoli chopped for quick veggies to grab and eat or add as a side to any of our meals.
If I have veggies ready to eat we will eat a lot of them! If they are not prepped and ready to go, we run the risk of letting them go to waste. I am guilty as anyone. I will even wash my apples when I bring them home from the store. All produce is washed and prepped right away. Convenience is key!
All of this food prep took me about an hour total of time, including putting it all in the storage containers and clean up. It will save me hours this week. When you factor in all the time to pull out the food, pots, pans, etc, and then putting it all away and cleaning up, the time adds up! Not to mention the mind-space you free up when you don’t have to think about what you are going to cook and how you are going to cook it!
If you are already doing meal prep on a regular basis, I can see you nodding along with with what I am saying. You already see and know the value. If you don’t but want to, hopefully this can be some inspiration for you – that it doesn’t have to be daunting, time intensive, and overwhelming. A little bit goes a long way!
Happy Monday y’all!