Let me start off my saying I’m not a huge fan of meal prep. Gasp, I know. Let me explain. I love the time and money saving aspect of it don’t get me wrong but the thing is, I don’t want to eat the same things everyday. Two days in a row would be fine but come the third and fourth day I wouldn’t eat the meals I had prepped because I wanted something different so alas the food would go bad and go to waste. All of that time I put into it, wasted.
I’m a variety kinda gal so instead of prepping the same ingredients for the same meal everyday I try to plan my weekly menu with things I like that have similar main ingredients, usually a similar protein. That way, I can buy certain things in bulk, still save time, waste less and still enjoy the variety. So instead of meal prep I more or less menu prep. You can still put left overs in containers for lunch throughout the week which I highly recommend you do. The easier we make it to grab healthy food for ourselves the more likely we are to eat it.
I will usually menu prep on Friday night and shop on Saturday. For me, I need to decompress after the week and I find it fun to menu plan so it’s a great way for me relax. You can menu prep any day of the week but I would recommend you check your local grocery store for sales before you shop. You can save a ton especially if your store has Bogo.
BTW to save time at the grocery store, I will write down my grocery list based on where the items are located in the store. For example if the produce section is located when you first walk in, I will put produce items on my list first and so on and so forth with other items. This saves me so much time so I’m not running all over the store and not missing anything on the list.
OK..Let’s take chicken for example. I will make homemade chicken soup, and once done cooking will shred the cooked chicken and store that separately from the broth. Do you know how much you can do with shredded chicken? It’s a blank canvas. You can freeze the stock for awhile btw and use it later as chicken soup or as homemade stock in other recipes. It makes a ton!
Ok back to the shredded chicken. Once the soup is done the chicken is so tender it literally falls off the bone. Just shred it and voila you have enough shredded chicken for the week. It will make enough for a few meals made a few different ways.
Portion out the chicken into a few containers to store in the fridge or freezer for use later on. Btw, you’ll want date the food you’re putting into the fridge or freezer so you know how long you have until it goes bad.
You can then pull it out to make bbq chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, chicken salad, any kind of chicken casserole…Seriously endless possibilities. I’m still pretty new to cooking (which is truly my happy place) so I’m still building up my recipe book.
I truly love finding new recipes so if you have any you would like to share I’d LOVE to add them to my recipe book! Add them in the comments!
Even though you’re having chicken a few times a week it’s combined with totally different flavors. Homemade chicken soup btw sounds daunting (and really, MY grandmas recipe is the best 😉 so I was always afraid that mine would never match up. I still have a ways to go (hey experimentation in the kitchen is part of the fun) but my taste tester (my hubby) gave it two thumbs up.
Because I like variety, and don’t want chicken everyday I’ll plan for another protein to grab that is pretty versatile. Pulled pork, pork tenderloin, even some types of fish are pretty versatile. I love Shrimp and there’s so much you can do with it. The internet is great for finding different recipes for the same protein.
As far as sides go I also like to find things that can be used in different ways. We love tater tots and thankfully you can do so much with them. You can make them as a side for dinner or mash them down half way through cooking and turn them into a hash brown for breakfast. Or you can have breakfast for dinner which is another favorite. There’s no shame in taking some short cuts. After all, we’re all short on time and budget. Everything in moderation.
I like to keep frozen vegetables in the freezer in case I need them in a pinch but I do buy most of my vegetables fresh.
I do meal prep veggies! We all know, and I’m guilty as charged, that if fruits and vegetables aren’t cleaned and prepped they will sit in the fridge until they grow mold. So I will wash them and cut them for a quick and easy snack. I’ll buy veggies I like to munch on and ones that I use in recipes. Some of my favorites are broccoli (my new favorite thing is to roast them) carrots, apples and bananas (for a quick dessert, put some butter in a pan, heat them up and pour them over a scoop of ice cream! Btw if your veggies are about to go bad, throw them in a stir fry, soup, pot pie or in a crock pot recipe.
Some items I always have on hand:
Milk or cream
Jane’s crazy mixed up salt
Beans ( I like black beans but any kind is fine)
Rice or quinoa
By menu planning you can save a ton of time and money by using similar ingredients and limiting the number of times you have to go to the grocery store.