A little bit of meal prep goes a long way towards being able to make meals quickly throughout the week.
I don’t do meal prep in the way you often see it shown on Pinterest, with full meals prepared and divided into servings that just need to be warmed up. But I do spend some time doing meal prep each week!
It’s actually quite simple and makes our weeks run much smoother. So I’ll explain the meal prep that I do and show you what a meal prep session might look like.
Sidenote: Be sure to download my FREE weekly meal planning printable! I use this printable each week to plan our meals, which saves us tons of money!
Simple Meal Prep for Super Fast Mealtimes
My meal prep sessions often start with baked goods because they take the longest.
I’ll make a batch of banana muffins that we can eat as snacks throughout the week. (Get my recipe for healthy banana muffins here)
Or if baked oatmeal is on our meal plan, I always bake that ahead of time. It takes 45 minutes to bake, which means I don’t want to be making it in the morning for breakfast. However, if I make it the day before, we have a super easy breakfast for the week that just needs to be warmed up in the microwave. (Get my baked oatmeal recipe here)
Favorite Kitchen Gear:
I love my pyrex baking dishes that come with matching lids. They make baking and storing baked goods like my baked oatmeal super easy.
I also love my silicone muffin cups. I don’t even own a muffin tin because these are much easier to use and clean!
Boneless skinless chicken breast is the meat we eat most often. When I find a good sale, I stock up on multiple packages and then take the time to prep them before I put them in the freezer.
This prep includes:
- Trimming off the fat
- Slicing each breast in half to make them thinner (they cook faster this way)
- Pounding each piece with a meat mallet (this makes the meat extra-tender)
- Storing the amount of chicken we will use for 2-3 meals in separate bags
- Freezing most of the bags for later use
All of this prep is a huge time saver for me when it comes to cooking the chicken during the week. When I pull a bag of chicken out of the freezer and thaw it, I know that the meat is completely ready to go. I can immediately put it on the grill or pour in a marinade.
Plus, it means that I only have to touch the raw chicken once instead of getting gross chicken hands multiple times per week. 🙂
Favorite Kitchen Gear:
I’ve got to have a good meat mallet for tenderizing the meat.
I recently got silicone food storage bags for storing the chicken because I didn’t like to go through so many plastic bags. They work really well and can be washed in the dishwasher!
Starting with cooked meat can make a meal go from 30 minutes to 10 minutes! I start with cooked meat whenever possible.
When we plan a meal that has bacon in it, I will prep the bacon by baking the entire package and then storing it in the fridge for the day we need it.
When I cook chicken for dinner, I always try to cook far more than we need for that meal. We will use the leftovers for the next few days.
This doesn’t always mean that we’re eating the same meal multiple times in a row though. We might have grilled chicken for dinner one night. Then I’ll use the extra grilled chicken the next night in wraps. And then use the last of it another night in quesadillas. The wraps and quesadillas are quick 10-minute meals when the meat is already cooked!
The easiest way to start doing this is to cook more than you need whenever you are cooking meat. Then you can use the extras for another meal the next day.
Chopped Fruits and Veggies
Another way to prep your food is to chop any fruits and veggies you will eat during the week.
If we buy a watermelon or pineapple, I will take a few minutes to chop it into bite sized chunks and store it in the fridge. This provides ready-to-go side dishes and snacks.
You could also chop up cucumbers and green peppers so that they are ready to eat for snacks throughout the week.
Favorite Kitchen Gear:
We have had this set of food storage containers for years! I love all of the different sizes that come with the pack. The big ones are perfect for a cut up melon.
Made from Scratch
The last category of foods I like to prep is anything that gets made from scratch.
I like to make my homemade pizza sauce ahead of time so that it’s ready to be used. (Find my recipe for homemade pizza sauce here) If a meal has a special sauce to go with it, I might make that up early and store it in the fridge. Or I’ll make up a batch of homemade veggie dip so that we can have a quick snack.
If I have something on my meal plan that can be made early, I like to get it done so that when it comes time to make dinner, most of what I need is ready to go.
Meal Prep Examples
So what does meal prep look like? I try to be as efficient as possible with it. With 30 minutes in the kitchen I can get a lot prepped for the week! So here are a few examples:
- Turn on the oven and bake a whole package of bacon.
- While that’s happening, I can make my homemade pizza sauce on the stove and let it simmer.
- Lastly, I can trim, package, and freeze all of the chicken on got on sale.
By the end of 30 minutes, I’ve got bacon cooked and ready for breakfast sammies. I’ve got pizza sauce ready for making homemade pizza. And I’ve got all of my chicken stored in the freezer with one package of trimmed chicken left in the fridge to be grilled tonight! This is exactly what I did on a Sunday afternoon not too long ago!
How about another example? This can all be done while I’m making dinner.
- Make up a batch of baked oatmeal and get it in the oven.
- Chop up a melon to be used for our side dish tonight and snacks for the rest of the week.
- Cook 2-3x the amount of chicken we need for dinner on the stove.
- Clean up the kitchen.
In this session, I’ve got breakfast baked that will last the rest of the week. Melon is ready to go for dinner tonight and later. The same for the chicken. Tomorrow, we’ll be able to have a 10-minute dinner because the chicken is already cooked!
I hope these example make a little bit of meal prep seem more feasible for you. It doesn’t have to require hours in the kitchen. An extra 30 minutes can be enough to make the rest of your meals for the week much faster to put together.
By taking a bit of time to bake, chop, and cook anything that can be done ahead of time, I am able to make our meals throughout the week quickly! Starting with cooked meat, chopped fruit, or baked goods that just need to be warmed up makes life much easier! Just a little bit of extra time in the kitchen can help in a big way.