Tag: meal planning

Quick Meal Prepping

Quick Meal Prepping

Quick Meal Prep
meal plans

The weeks are flying by here in the Midwest which is just fine with us. We’re loving the cooler weather which allows us to keep the windows open and have fresh air breezing through the house all day.

Of course, since I work from home I’m the one who gets to enjoy the majority of time in our new space. Everyone else is running from one activity to the next and falling asleep on the couch in the evening.

Weeknight activities on the calendar often mean we’re grabbing dinner later or we aren’t all eating at the same time. When this happens I often switch to simple meals that are easy to prep on the weekends and heat up later in the week.

Here’s My Quick Meal Prep Strategy

Step One

Take stock of your ingredients on hand. This week in addition to what is pictured I have Satay sauce in the fridge, fresh peppers, and frozen zoodles.

We always have frozen chicken breasts and ground chicken on hand as it’s the main meat we eat.

Pull out all the items you will need to touch for each meal (in this case it’s basically opening cans) and place them where you will see them.

This serves two purposes:

  • It prevents you from running to the store because you think you don’t have something
  • It reminds you to actually use the ingredients you have in your house

Step Two

Consider your options. I make Satay two different ways but they both start with cooking frozen chicken breasts in the Instantpot with some diced onion until they are ready to shred. I also know that I’m going to want to serve the Satay over brown rice for our boys who prefer that to zoodles.

I organize my meals in Plan to Eat. The search functions in this system allow me to quickly find recipes with similar ingredients. You can do the same thing in Pinterest, but I find that it’s hard to keep track of the tried and true recipes we actually like in Pinterest, so once I know we love it, I add it to Plan to Eat.

I now have a few options:

  • I can double the amount of chicken and rice for another meal this week
  • I can double the amount of chicken and rice for Satay at another time
  • I can double the amount of chicken and rice and turn it into something else for a meal later down the road

In all of these circumstances, it takes me very little additional work to double the amount of food I prepare. The clean up is the same, and I will have another meal at some point that I don’t have to make. It’s a win-win-win.

Step Three

Always account for leftovers, but always have a backup plan. With teenage sons in the house and a husband in football season, there are days when I cook what I consider a huge meal and end up making myself a salad while they polish off dinner and make themselves sandwiches.

Then there are weeks where end up with extra food in the fridge from this event or there is an activity where they also provide dinner. Thankfully, breakfast for dinner is always a hit in our house and the boys are old enough to make the pancakes if I’m not finished working for the day.

Prep Work

This week was a very simple prep week. I put chicken and onions in the Instantpot and then shredded them and divided the cooked meat in half. One container went into the fridge and the other into the freezer.

  • I cooked 2 cups of brown basmati rice and placed the rice in a glass container in the fridge.
  • I cooked the taco meat and placed in a container in the fridge
  • I also mixed up some muffins and gluten-free scones from box mixes to bake for breakfasts while waiting for the rice to cook.

Bonus Chicken and Rice options:

  • Chicken and Green Salsa bake
  • Chicken “fried” rice
  • I can use the chicken in quesadillas or in risotto
  • I can use the rice in stuffed peppers
  • I can save for another round of Satay

I’ll likely go with the first options because it’s family favorite and it uses up a bunch of ingredients I have on hand right now. But I’ll see mid-week what our food consumption is looking like before making a final decision. If I do go with the green salsa bake it’s likely to make next week’s meal rotation.

Thanks to Pampered Chef steamed veggies are the only additional prep work I’ll be doing each night as I pull dinner together. In total including clean up, this took about 90 minutes thanks to an empty dishwasher and minimal need to chop veggies.

Breaking Down the Full Menu Week 1

Saturday/Sunday: Gluten-Free Chicken sausages, pork sausages from the local butcher and brat burgers make up the protein. Mashed potatoes, salad, and steamed broccoli will round out the menu for both nights.

Monday: Gluten-Free Satay sauce, Shredded chicken breasts, brown basmati rice, zoodles, diced green peppers, chopped peanuts, pineapple, steamed broccoli. (Make Your own Bowls)

Tuesday: Tacos (Ground beef or chicken because I happened to have both) black beans, corn tortilla chips and guacamole as a side dish. Served with apple slices and plums

Wednesday: This is date night so Ordell and I will eat out. The boys eat something quick. This week it’s chicken patties and fries and probably apples.

Thursday: Leftovers were addressed above in Step Three

Friday: Game Day is always different. Usually, the boys eat something at the field with the coaches and I grab a salad at home. Sometimes they will eat something from the concessions.

Saturday/Sunday: My preference is always to head to the farmer’s market and find something fresh to create. Our market runs all year long and we are members with a local rancher so we receive a discount.

Breaking Down a Full Menu Week 2

weekly menu

This week meal prep was divided into 2 parts. When we got back from the Farmer’s Market we had breakfast sausage and pork shoulder to thaw.

Saturday morning I made Chicken and Green Salsa bake (minus 2 chicken breasts added later that evening) with leftovers from the previous week’s dinners. I also made broccoli slaw, prepped a salad, and spent a little time Clorox wiping out the fridge drawers and shelves.

Saturday evening I made a breakfast casserole for mornings this week while I was cooking the potatoes and pasta for Saturday dinner.

Once the chicken was cooled I finished compiling Tuesday’s salsa bake and placed it in the fridge along with the breakfast casserole.

Saturday: Grilled Chicken, Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese, Roasted Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Salad. I had Ordell Grill up several extra chicken breasts 2 for Tuesday’s dinner, and some in anticipation of having leftovers.

Sunday: Ordell smoked up a pork shoulder (pictured above) we had leftover roasted potatoes and broccoli and pineapple from satay last week. We also had broccoli slaw and baked beans.

Monday: weekend leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken and Green Salsa Bake, tortilla chips and queso. I’ve linked the original recipe that my family loves. Every time I make this skillet is slightly different depending on what I have on hand. I find this is the perfect recipe to help use up leftover ingredients.

Wednesday: leftovers for the boys and date night for us

Thursday: baked fish, broccoli, fries (I give myself a break with one boxed meal a week. My kids love these Gordon Skillet Crisps which bake up great on stoneware. I’ll make myself baked salmon (gluten-free) to have over a salad and Ordell will usually have a little of both.

NOTE: Thursday is the first meal that I’ll have to do more than pull a dish out of the fridge and heat up some veggies.

Friday: Game Day! (Homecoming)

Saturday: Grilling Burgers we picked up at the Farmer’s Market last weekend

Note: Use my Plan to Eat referral code for a discount!

Favorite Easter Brunch Recipes

Favorite Easter Brunch Recipes

Favorite Easter Brunch Recipes

I love Easter brunch. One thing about living far from family for so many years is that Easter weekend can sometimes bring together a group of people for a great weekend meal. Over the years we’ve had several different groups through for Easter brunch.

Every meal has included different receipes, but today I’m sharing my favorites. This first recipe is adapted from Averie Cooks.

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 C gluten free oats blended
  • 3/4 cup gluten-free oats left as oats
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste

Blueberry Layer

  • 12 ounces (2 cups) blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside. Lining the pan helps with cleanup and is recommended.
  2. Crust and Crumble Topping – In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
  3. Add the oats, sugars, optional salt, and stir to combine. Mixture will be dry and sandy with some larger, well-formed crumble pieces.
  4. Set 1 heaping cup mixture aside to be sprinkled on later as crumble topping.
  5. Transfer remaining mixture to prepared pan, and using a spatula or your fingers, hard-pack the mixture to create an even, smooth, flat crust; set aside.
  6. Blueberry Layer – In a large mixing bowl (same one used for crust and crumble is okay), add all ingredients and toss to combine. If sugar hasn’t dissolved fully that’s okay because it liquifies while baking.
  7. Evenly distribute blueberry mixture over the crust.
  8. Evenly sprinkle with the reserved heaping 1 cup crumble topping mixture. Before sprinkling, I squeeze the mixture in my palm to encourage bigger crumble pieces to form.
  9. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until edges are set and center has just set. Crumble topping should appear set and very pale golden. I used frozen berries without thawing and the pan was very cold going into the oven. If using fresh berries, baking time will be reduced, but I’m not sure by how much, I’d guess at least 10-15 minutes, possibly less. Bars may take longer than 55 minutes if blueberries are very juicy.

Baked Eggs

This recipe is awesome because you can make any variety you want. Don’t be afraid to add spinach, peppers and onions, chorizo, or sausage.

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 lb. diced bacon, cooked and cooled
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. black pepper
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • PAM cooking spray
  • Additional shredded cheese, if desired

1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until foamy. Stir in bacon, cheese and seasonings.

2. Grease a 13×9 casserole dish with New & Improved PAM cooking spray. Pour in egg mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired, and return to the oven for a few minutes, just to melt the cheese.

3. Cut baked eggs into squares and serve. While some serve these with English muffins, I think they are great on their own.

Fruit Salad

I love a great fruit salad. My favorite trick is to use a combination of fresh and frozen fruits to reduce my prep time and keep the fruit cool.

I use frozen mango and peaches and add in fresh blackberries, strawberries, and pineapple. Beautiful colors and so yummy!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m sharing our family’s favorite peppermint hot chocolate mix today. The recipe is based on this one. But of course, I’ve made a few adjustments.  Fair warning, this makes a huge batch. I usually store it in a 1-gallon ice cream tub.  The best part is that most or all of the ingredients are found at Aldi, so it doesn’t have to break the bank and can last the whole holiday season.

Peppermint Hot Chocolate Mix

11 c. powdered milk

1 c. confectioners’ sugar

11 oz. powdered coffee creamer

2 lbs. powdered chocolate milk mix

4 T. cocoa powder

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

1 bag of peppermint baking chips

Combine well, store in airtight container. Add to hot milk, hot water, or even coffee for a great holiday treat.