Easy meal prep.

I had a request to share how I meal prep, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts on that today.
I really enjoy meal prepping because it makes weeknights go SO much smoother, but it's also something you have to dedicate time too.  I normally grocery shop first thing on Saturday morning, and then do a lot of my meal prep Sunday morning right after breakfast.

When I prep for the week, I think about these things:
1. What is on sale?
2. What do I already have in the freezer and pantry?
3. How many nights will we be at home eating dinner?
4. How many lunches do I need to take that week?
5. What is Clint's schedule?

From there, I try to plan 4 meals, and 1 thing to take for lunches (I'll eat the same thing every day for a week at lunch).  So for example this week chicken thighs & brats were on sale at Safeway along with green peppers and shredded cheese, so I planned most of my week around those items.  I also pulled ground beef from the freezer to finish prepping the protein I would need.  I have found that if my protein is cooked in advance it is so much easier to pull together a homemade meal at night after work. 

Based on what was on sale, on the menu this week is:
1 . Chicken & cheese enchiladas
2. Brats with grilled onions & peppers
3. Teriyaki chicken thighs
4. Taco Soup

Prep work:
Sunday morning I dumped 2 pounds of chicken thighs and a sliced onion in my crockpot and covered them with chicken broth and let them go on low all day.  Then I took them out in the afternoon & shredded them and added a can of cream soup & sliced pepper jack cheese.  Ten corn tortillas and a can of enchilada sauce later, I had a pan of enchiladas ready to go into the oven that night.  I cooked these while we were out feeding cows and when we were done, we came in to a hot dinner.

The other 2 pounds of chicken thighs I got marinated in teriyaki sauce (I like Baby Ray's) in a Pyrex pan all day Sunday and then I dumped them into the crockpot Monday morning.  I served them with rice and steamed broccoli.

Both of these dishes made leftovers for lunches that week.

Brats are easy, and I cook them on the same sheet pan that I'm roasting the onions and peppers on. I line it with heavy duty foil beforehand and clean up is a breeze.

I try to make a pound or two of ground beef on Sunday or Monday night (usually it's Monday night) and then keep it in the fridge for later in the week.  It's just nice to have it on hand and ready to go.  For taco soup, I'll dump it into the crockpot with beans, canned diced tomatoes, sliced olives, a packet of ranch dressing, water and taco seasoning and let it go all day.   I would add corn, but Clint can't eat corn.  We'll top it with cheese, avocado and sour cream.

For sides, I buy 6-10 bagged salads every week and we eat them at night with our meal or I'll make steamed broccoli or riced cauliflower.  We also like roasted brussels sprouts & mushrooms, but if I make those I usually make that the meal and add a little bacon and an onion and then serve over rice.

When you're shopping - be sure to pick up crockpot liners!  These are the best, and make clean up SO much easier at night.  I will not use my crockpot unless I have these on hand - that sounds drastic, but they just make things that much easier.  I also keep heavy duty foil on hand, and line any pan I put in the oven with it so that clean up is easy.

Lunch meal prep:
I almost always take a bagged salad (the ones that come with toppings & dressing) and then this week I had extra chicken leftover from when I made the pan of enchiladas so I pulled a frozen pack of phyllo dough out of the freezer and made a few chicken & mushroom pot pie pockets for lunch.  If the healthy frozen dinners are on sale, I'll take something like that too or make extra soup and have a bowl of soup and a bagged salad.

Other meals I might make during the week:

1. Pot roast, baby carrots & salad - I prep the pot roast & carrots the night before in my crockpot liner, refrigerate and then set it in to cook when I leave in the morning

2. Mini tacos from Costco with a taco bagged salad

3. Teriyaki pork, riced cauliflower and steamed broccoli - I like the Baby Ray's Teriyaki sauce, and just line a Pyrex pan with foil, top the pork (use anything, chops, a roast, etc.) with the teriyaki sauce and let it cook - or do it in the crockpot!  If I cook it in the oven, I'll do it the night before, shred the pork and refrigerate and then re-heat the next night.  I also like to make riced cauliflower on the stove top - but I make a double batch on the weekend and then refrigerate half to use later in the week.

4. Costco cheese pizza & Caesar salad

5. Chili - I make this when I've browned a big batch of ground beef on the weekend.  I just add beef, a diced onion, beans (kidney & black, because I buy them in a case at Costco but any type of beans work), chili powder, dried oregano, and two cans of crushed tomatoes into the crockpot and let it cook on low during the day.

6. Ground beef & teriyaki veggies - our grocery store has pre-bagged fresh stir fry veggies by the salads that come with a sauce packet.  I cook one of these bags and add in ground hamburger that I've made from the weekend and call it a night!

7. Burrito bowls - Ground beef with taco seasoning, black beans, chopped lettuce, tomatoes and corn (for me and Cal), cheese, olives (for the boys), avocado, salsa, ranch dressing and a squeeze of lime and you're in business!

8. Breakfast for dinner - eggs, bacon or sausage and pancakes

9. Mac & cheese and hot dogs - just keeping it real!  I like the Tillamook Sauce Starters for Mac & Cheese, but also buy Kraft at Costco and the real beef hot dogs.  I'll also make a salad or steamed broccoli with this.

10. PB&J, left overs & snacks - I try to keep the bottom shelf of the fridge lined with snacks for the boys (little apples, strawberries, applesauce pouches, string cheese, granola bars, juice, mandarin oranges, canned fruit, olives, etc.) and we'll grab a few of these and random left overs and call it a night.  :)

11. Spaghetti - I will use a jarred tomato sauce, add in the ground beef I made earlier in the week and then microwave a whole spaghetti squash for 15 min (5 minutes at a time, then rotate and nuke for 5 min again, three times total) before seeding it and pulling out the squash.  You could totally use noodles too - we are just trying to eat fewer carbs.  I top with Parmesan and serve with a Caesar salad.

I get a lot of meal inspiration from these blogs too -
So that's just a little look at our normal meal prep.  When life gets busy (usually during the AI season) I'm either 100% committed to this, or you'll see us in the McDonald's drive thru.  Which there are totally days when you just need something quick!  :)

I hope this was helpful.  I'd love to hear some of your easy weeknight dinners as well!


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