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Weekly Meal Prep Tips… Part 1

weekly meal prep tips 2

I don’t cook for fun.  The fun part for me comes into play when it’s time to chow down.  I know there are amazing chicas out there that LIKE to hang out in the kitchen to relax and thoroughly enjoy the process.

That is NOT me.

But I do have a rather fondness for eating good food, and so do the rest of these crazies living here, so obviously I have a problem.

Er, I had  a problem that is.

I had always heard of the insane Martha Stewart types who did once a month freezer cooking, but really… WHO wants to spend an entire day in the kitchen cooking?

When I heard of this new idea of prepping just the dinners for one week in an hour, I was definitely intrigued.

And a bit skeptical.  Would the food even taste good after sitting in the fridge for a few days?

I was at a season of life when the dinnertime hour was simply wretched with my two younger boys wanting ALL of my attention and appendages, and something HAD to give.  I was desperate enough to give it a try.  I even called it my Martha Stewart Experiment, ha!

Surprisingly, it worked.

It worked so well, it brought amazing changes in our house.  It cured my previous abysmal menu planning failures.  It opened up my cooking ability and willingness to try new and different dishes.  It somehow even spurred us to start eating dinner at the table together… something we obviously should have been doing anyway.

Over the last year+ of doing this virtually every week {I’ve even done it on vacation} I’ve found Some TIPS for making the process work… and work better.

 

Tip #1… The NUMBER ONE tip for making it work at all is menu planning.  Decide on a day to tackle this each week and sit down with your pencil and pinterest and plan away!  It always helps to have designated meal nights if you’re into that… like, one night for pizza or one night for leftovers etc.  That automatically cuts down on your task since you know from the start Sunday night is Pizza and Thursdays are Leftovers.

BOTTOM LINE… Weekly Meal Prep ain’t going to happen if you drop the ball at the Menu Planning stage.

 


I use this great freebie from Mommy Tracked

menu plan sheet

Make a list WHILE you’re doing your menu planning of ingredients and supplies you’ll need while the recipe is open in front of you.  That will save you a step of having to go look it up again when you’re making your grocery list AND when you’re ready to start your meal prep.  All the needed items for all your meals will be listed on this one page which means a quicker start!

Tip #2… This next tip is one I can’t say loud enough.  This one would even work without the weekly prep factor… double or divide meals each week to send to the freezer.  It barely takes any additional time to do this and the rewards are WELL worth it.  Having a freezer stuffed to the gills with meals means that you can allot one or two nights a week as Freezer Meal Nights, which means one or two LESS meals you’ll need to prep each week too!

I did a rough count, and it looks like right at this moment I have THIRTEEN meals in the freezer and ready to go.  WOOT!

stocked freezer

Freezer Meals work great for the weekend for us since our plans aren’t always concrete, and we often may end up not being home for dinner.  Planning a freezer meal for that day means no harm no foul if we don’t end up eating at home.

I never, ever, ever would have imagined that I would have a freezer full of meals, but it is one huge blessing that has come from learning this method.  :)

Of course, the downside is much lamenting and mourning when a power outage occurs.  :)

Tip #3… Cut down on the extra mixing bowl step.  Just mix ingredients in your baking dish or Ziploc bag instead of a mixing bowl. This saves you a step and prevents you from being left with an extra bowl to clean.  I love this tip I got from Michelle.  She’s my inspiration in starting this whole process, and I love her time saving tips!

When filling your ziploc, slide it over a small pitcher or large measuring bowl to make easier mess free filling.

ziplocpitcher

If you don’t want the extra step of grabbing a pitcher… just take the bag and make the opening go inside out a bit to give you an extra large opening that will stay.

I’m always and forever scanning recipes for steps I can eliminate. :) I definitely avoid cooking things twice whenever possible, as in I usually put chicken in casseroles or crockpots uncooked instead of browning it first. I’m completely addicted to cutting corners to save me some time in the kitchen.

And I don’t think I’m the only one, right? :)

I fully believe that this method of Weekly Meal Prep can be a lifesaver for mamas like me.  Mamas who don’t want to live life enslaved to the dinner hour!  I hope these tips will be helpful for you!

Stay tuned next Wednesday for Part 2!!   For more info in the meantime, check out my Basics of Meal Prep Post!

feelscript sig smiley_thumb_thumb

*Sometimes I link up at these parties… Weekend Bloggy Link up, Tatertots & Jello, House of Hepworths,Bowl Full of Lemons,Organize & Decorate Everything, Not Just a Housewife, Funky Junk Interiors, Shabby Creek Cottage, Skip to my Lou,Today’s Creative Blog, the 36th Avenue, Thrifty Décor Chick, Home Stories A-Z, Five Days Five Ways, How to Nest for Less,Positively Splendid, Six Sisters Stuff, and Someday Crafts. You should check ‘em out!!

13 Responses to Weekly Meal Prep Tips… Part 1
  1. Shaindy
    April 25, 2012 | 9:05 am

    I LOVE your blog! I am so glad to hear I’m not the only one who doesn’t like to cook and looks to skip steps. If a recipe starts with “heat skillet” I skip right over it. I love the idea of 5 meals in 1 hour, but have yet to get on the bandwagon. Seeing your menu posts every week is inspiration!
    Shaindy recently posted..Why Do it Manually if You Don’t Have To?My Profile

  2. Rachel
    April 25, 2012 | 8:16 pm

    I really don’t know what I’m waiting for to try this…but I’m thinking I need to sooner than later!! I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes when I do! =) Thanks for sharing these tips.
    Rachel recently posted..My Sisters, My FriendsMy Profile

  3. mary
    April 25, 2012 | 8:53 pm

    Great tips! I used to do this much more when our boys were home. Cooking for 2 now.

    I am pinning this to share with others as it is a great resource for those who are trying to be frugal (we teach financial planning courses and always on the lookout for great tips like this!)

  4. Katie
    April 25, 2012 | 11:28 pm

    These are great tips! I’ve always been intrigued by freezer cooking, but have always been too skeptical to try it. But now I think I will! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Nicca
    April 27, 2012 | 3:41 am

    Hi.. Thanks for the tips for the weekly meal prep tips.. I am sure my kids would be interested with this..
    Nicca recently posted..Sharepoint HostingMy Profile

  6. gina
    April 27, 2012 | 8:22 am

    Your freezer looks like mine! There is a method to my madness for sure and we cycle thru food often enough so that i don’t forget what’s in there. (:

  7. Shirley@motivatedmommyoftwo
    April 27, 2012 | 1:26 pm

    These are great tips, thanks for sharing. I use the same meal planning sheet to plan my meals for a week. Now I just need to follow your process and I am all set to go.
    Shirley@motivatedmommyoftwo recently posted..{Weight Loss} Fitness Friday #3My Profile

  8. Erin,

    I just saw that this post was featured over at Serenity Now.

    Congrats!
    Laura

  9. [...] sure to stay tuned for Part 2 on Weekly Meal Prep Tips coming up [...]

  10. Alicia Seeley
    May 1, 2012 | 11:58 pm

    Such wonderful tips!! I have been struggling with planning my dinners, especially since we are at the ball fields 4 nights a week. Thank you for the help!!! Newest follower via Linky

  11. [...] talked last week about the First Three Weekly Meal Prep Tips that are sure to boost your weekly meal prep success!  {If you haven’t read those yet, take a [...]

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