Do you struggle with meal prepping and how to fit it in? Do you want to give your family healthy meals that do not take hours to prepare? Would you like to cook only 3 days a week, but feed your family for more? If you answered yes to any of these questions read on…
I don’t know about you, but I hate meal prepping.
Lets face it, meal prepping sucks! It takes too much time and too much thinking, and… if you are cooking for a family, it’s even more work! The problem is for good nutrition and healthy balanced meals it has to be done. Without meal preparation you are more likely to succumb to buying fast food and frozen meals packed with loads of sodium, fat and other additives you just cannot afford to have on a daily basis.
Many meal prepping guides and tips have you doing all your meal prep in one day. Personally, I cannot wrap my head around that. Preparing and thinking about a week worth of meals all in one day is overwhelming for me. Not to mention, it takes hours to do and leaves a huge mess.
I have come up with a solution that works for me and I am going to share it with you.
One of my secrets to meal prepping is to do it a few times a week in the meals you are already cooking. I call this process “meals within meals”. Why not utilize your time on the days that you are already cooking? Pick your 3 best days out of the week where you have the most time to prepare a meal. It could be at any time of the day. Those are the days you are going to make not just a meal for that day but also prep for at least one other meal. That means you will get at least 6 meals made by cooking only 3 times a week. The other 3 meals will be quick fix meals from already cooked food.
Once you decide what days you are going to do your cooking, pick 3 meals you are going to prepare those days.
This takes a little thought as you want to pick 3 meals that you can cook extra and utilize the food you make for another different meal.
For instance: make a large pot of chicken soup with brown rice. Throw some extra chicken breasts into the pot. After cooked through remove the extra chicken breasts you do not need for the soup and pack them up in a container. Tomorrow or another day of the week chop up the pre-cooked cold chicken, add celery and mayo for chicken salad. It will be a quick no cook dinner, lunch or snack that you can now have with baby carrots and whole grain crackers, bread, etc.
The leftover soup and any chicken salad can then be used for lunches and snacks the rest of the week. In one meal you made dinner, an easy quick meal for the next day and leftover meals and snacks for the rest of the week.
If you do this 2 more times during the course of the week with different types of meals you have prepped for the whole week by cooking only 3 times.
Other good examples of “meals within meals” are:
- Making extra whole grain pancakes and egg frittatas make great breakfast leftovers. I love having a breakfast for dinner night once a week to utilize any leftovers for breakfast the rest of the week.
- Making extra grilled or stir fried chicken and vegetables make for great chicken quesadilla’s or fajita’s another day. You can also throw leftover chicken into salads for lunches or dinners.
- Whole roasted chicken one night makes for a great soup another day using any of the leftover meat and bones. Chicken is already cooked through so you do not need hours to cook the chicken. I love throwing my leftover roasted chicken, grated ginger, sliced lemon into a pot of water, bring to boil, add chicken bouillon, broth, seasoning, etc. and a bag of spinach. Add brown rice to your bowl for some whole grains.
- Make extra taco meat on taco night and use the extra for taco salads or nachos another day. Be sure to use whole grain tortillas, low-fat cheeses and dressings.
Think about making “meals within meals” and prepare plenty of food for leftovers when you are able to cook. Utilize those meals throughout your days for lunch, dinner and even breakfast that will easily get you through the week without feeling like you’re spending hours on meals and preparation.