I won’t even bore you guys with a proper intro because this post is EVERYTHING you’ve needed when it comes to mastering the meal prep. So, without further ado…
Step 1. Plan Your Menu Before You Shop
The first step for any meal prep is deciding your menu for the week ahead. For today’s post, I’m sharing a real example of what I prepped last week for Brandon and I! These are some of my favorite meals to make because I can easily batch prep ingredients (more on that below) and they’re things that Brandon and I both really like. I personally like to make 2-3 meals for the week and that’s enough for both of us. However, depending on how many people you’re feeding and how bored you get with meals, you might want to add an additional 1-2 meals into the mix.
On our menu:
- Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Broccoli and Chicken Sausage (serves 4)
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Chicken Sausage, Green Apples, Bacon and Pesto Sauce (serves 4)
- Taco Salad with Ground Beef and Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette (serves 4)
- Note: for breakfast, I typically do an FFactor Shake for both of us (just protein, cold brew coffee and almond milk) so I don’t have breakfast listed here. However, when I do make breakfast, I prefer easy things that I can batch like chia seed pudding or overnight oats. I also love doing a dozen hardboiled eggs and having those on hand for the week.
Yeah, but how much food do I make?
Most of the meals I make are good for 4 servings so that’s a total of 12 servings for the week (3 meals x 4 servings each = 12 total meals). Brandon eats out for lunch 1-2 days and we usually do dinner out on Friday nights. I had a lunch meeting and a dinner planned for the week so twelve was perfect for us. I also knew we would be out of town that weekend so we wouldn’t need meals for Saturday and Sunday. If we were going to be home or if we didn’t have lunch meetings out, I would have added in another meal or double the recipe on one of the items on my menu. It’s important to consider your schedule when planning out your menu for the week so you don’t over or under prepare!
Now, make your grocery list.
I love using the Grocery List in my Golden Coil planner. It makes it that much easier to shop for exactly what I need and I love that it separates the list by aisle/section of the store. Regardless of what format you use, I can’t suggest enough how important a list is before you head to the store.
Step 2. Crosscheck Your List with your pantry
You’ve got your list. Before you head to the store, shop your kitchen first. Do you already have olive oil and an extra carton of almond milk? Cross them off your list! Did you just empty out the salt and pepper shakers, make sure you add those to the list because no veggies should go un – salted and peppered.
This is also a great opportunity to do a quick round with the house for other staples you might need like dish detergent, toilet paper, batteries, etc.
Step 3. organize your Tupperware + meals
Okay, you’re home from the store with all of your groceries and you’re ready to prep! The first thing I do is separate my meal ingredients and put them into little groups so I can get organized.
Next up, get out your Tupperware! I like to have all of my containers and lids out on the counter ready for the food as it’s done. Because you’re going to be preparing multiple things at once, it’s nice to be able to put the food away/in the containers as it’s done so you can tidy up the kitchen as you go.
Step 4. Batch prep ingredients
After lots of trial and error, I’ve found that preparing multiple meals at one time can totally be done. How? To avoid chaos, batch prep ingredients for multiple meals at once. For example, two of my recipes include roasted veggies so I toss the broccoli and Brussel sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss them in the over first. I also need to brown my ground beef and saute my chicken sausage so those can both go on the stovetop at the same time.
While the veggies are roasting and the meat is browning (make sure you’re paying attention and stirring so you don’t burn anything), I prep my sauces. For today’s menu, that included a roasted red pepper pizza sauce and pesto. Pop the ingredients in blenders and then set aside until you’re ready to assemble meals.
This step is all about multitasking. If that’s not your strong suit and you can extra time, feel free to tackle one meal at a time! If you’re doing more than three meals for the week, you might also want to consider doing half of your meals on Sunday and then the other half on Wednesday to split up the work. You’ll find the rhythm that works for you!
a few other things…
Don’t forget the snacks! In addition to my meals for the week, I like to put snacks in small containers and plastic baggies too so I can grab-n-go. Some of my favorites are:
- Sliced veggies (carrots, celery, jicama, bell peppers) served with fresh lime juice in Tajin seasoning: put the slices in small containers or plastic bags
- Lilly’s Dark Chocolate Chips: I love eating these when I’m craving something sweet. I put 1-2 tablespoons in mini plastic bags and put them in the fridge. They’re great served with an apple or banana and peanut butter.
- Yogurt parfaits: add 1/2 c yogurt with berries to small mason jars. When ready to eat, mix in 1 tbsp chia seeds.
Stock your fridge and pantry with other staples. I always have slices of lemon and limes ready to go to add to water. I also love to keep snack-sized portions of Brandon’s favorite chips/popcorn/cookies on hand. It’s totally okay to splurge but moderation is key. Having your favorite snacks already in small bags that fit the suggested serving size prevents overeating.
Freeze what you don’t eat. Sometimes you make too much food or end up going out to eat more than you thought. Don’t waste your work! Pop the containers in the freezer and thaw when you’re ready to eat again. Same goes for sauces. I tend to make too much every time so instead of tossing out the extras, I pour the sauce in a container and freeze for later.
Recipes from the Sample Menu
Taco Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- 1lb lean ground beef
- Taco seasoning packet (look for one with no sugar added if possible)
- 8 cups romaine lettuce chopped or 2 bags of chopped salad mix
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 4 tbsp cheddar or mexican style cheese
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
To make the dressing:
- Combine bunch of cilantro, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and juice of 1 lime into a blender and combine until smooth. Add water as needed.
- Serves 4.
To make the salad:
- Cook lean ground beef on the stovetop. Drain grease and add back to your pan.
- Add taco seasoning with 1/4 cup water to the ground beef. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer at medium heat for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
- Strain the excess liquid and divide into 4 containers.
- Combine the lettuce, bell peppers and cheese. Divide and place into 4 containers as your salad base.
- When ready to eat, top your salad base with the warmed up ground beef and salad dressing!
Chicken Sausage Pizza
- 1lb ground chicken or turkey sausage
- 1 cup pizza sauce
- 1 small jar roasted red peppers
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups roasted broccoli
- 2 cauliflower pizza crusts (I use Cauliflour foods so the crusts a bit smaller)
- Toss broccoli with olive oil spray, salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Put pizza sauce and roasted peppers in a blender. Blend until combined.
- Each pizza crust gets 1/2 each of the sauce mixture, sausage, broccoli and cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until crust browns.
Pesto Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Chicken Sausage with Apples
- Bunch of fresh basil
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt, pepper
- Brussel sprouts (1 bag)
- 4 links chicken sausage, sliced
- 2 green apples, chopped
- To make pesto sauce: combine basil, olive oil and salt and pepper into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Toss Brussel sprouts with olive oil spray, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for 20minutes.
- While brussels are roasting, brown chicken sausage in a saute pan until crispy.
- Combine browned chicken sausage with brussel sprouts, chopped apples and pesto sauce. Divide into 4 containers. When ready to eat, top with parmesan cheese!