Since our life often revolves around football there are some months that feel longer than others. The weeks in the months of October, April, and July tend to drag on a little longer than other months. They commonality is that they are the middle months of each season. In-season, Off-season workouts, and Summer workouts. The reality is, it doesn’t matter how unmotivated I am feeling, our routine doesn’t stop. We need to eat every day, the house requires cleaning, and we have to keep washing clothes.
I’ve developed some strategies to capitalize on the weeks where I find myself feeling motivated to batch cook and have a little extra time on my hands. By taking a little extra time to plan ahead, I’ve been able to reduce the time I spend in the kitchen during the week cooking and cleaning by hours.
Here are my Meal Prep Tips to Help Your Sanity
I’ve figured out that by spending a few hours on Sunday focusing on meal prep I can save hours through the week. I also reduce our dinner prep time to 15 minutes or less.
First, I check the freezer, fridge, and pantry to see what I have on hand that can be made into meals. From there I plot out the best order for a simple meal plan.
Here is an example of a typical dinner menu:
Sunday Meal: Grilled Turkey Burgers, red potatoes, cucumber slices
Additional Steps: Grill Chicken for upcoming meals, brown up ground turkey, and season for tacos. Freeze in a glass container to eat later in the week.
Monday Meal: Instant Pot Pork Chops with gluten-free cream of chicken soup and gluten-free stuffing, broccoli (steam up twice the broccoli needed for the meal)
Tuesday Meal: Eat Grilled Chicken from Sunday, Steamed Mixed Vegetables, Brown Basmati Rice (cook double the amount needed)
Wednesday Meal: Chicken “fried” Rice Ingredients include: leftover chicken from Sunday, Broccoli from Monday, Mixed Veggies, and rice from Tuesday.
Thursday Meal: pull out that taco meat from the freezer, open a can of black beans, and a bag of tortilla chips.
Friday Meal: leftovers
This strategy has served us well not only with meal prep but also with our grocery bill. When all the food for the week is cooked and prepped there is no need for takeout.
I’m a big fan of the crock pot and the Instant Pot. More than once I’ve forgotten to thaw out meat before the kids arrive home from school and ask what we are having for dinner. Freezer meals are great for all three meals of the day. Here are my favorites:
- Grilled meat for salads
- Rice and veggie bowls
- Dump Chicken
- Chili and Soup
- Marinaded Pork Tenderloin
- Chicken Parmesan Bake
- Shredded Chicken (tacos, add to pasta, bbq sandwiches, burritos)
- Ground Turkey (sloppy joes, tacos, stroganoff)
- Stuffed peppers (our favorite is a Mexican flavored one with chorizo)
- Spaghetti squash casserole (mine is any veggies I have and a jar of marinara combined with squash and topped with mozzarella cheese OR chicken and black beans with peppers, corn, and onion combined with enchilada sauce and squash topped with Mexican Blend shredded cheese.
- Freezer mashed potatoes
- Pizza Doughs
- Cookie Dough (form in balls instead of tube for quick cookies in any quantity)
- Dinner Rolls
- Spaghetti Squash portioned in 1 cup servings
Taking out time to think about meals a little more strategically over the weekend helps in the chaos of the school week. I’ve learned that anything I can do to lighten the load keeps me motivated and my family is happier too.
Do you need some cooking inspiration?
This article was originally written on August 22, 2017, and has been edited and updated for freshness and accuracy in January 2021.