The Importance of Meal Prep: The Week I Skipped…And Why I Won’t Be Doing That Again

Ok, so I didn’t entirely skip meal prep. But compared to what I normally cook every week, I did. If you saw this post, you know I was on vacation from work for most of this week. Well, a staycation. So I figured, why not?! I will be home for most of the week, I will have plenty of time. How about I don’t do meal prepping this week?!

Bad. Idea.

Thankfully, none of the meals I planned went bad or anything. But I did delay cooking the casserole I had planned by 2 days, which did make me a little worried for our ingredients initially.

But mostly, it was the stress and lack of options. When time should I make dinner for? What is Draz taking for lunch today? (He only had 3 days off to my 5)

Some of you might think this is a little crazy. It was only a couple of days, right? It shouldn’t make that big of a difference!

It did. Some of it might just be the routine. We’ve been meal prepping for over a year now and we are used to how that works. This was out of routine, so it was a little disorienting. But some of it was that, for us, it truly is easier to have all the food for the week made in advance.

So, all in all, I don’t think I will be skipping any more meal preps anytime soon! While it may not make that big of a difference to some, it makes a huge difference to us.

But wait! I did say I didn’t entirely skip prepping, didn’t I? Well, that’s true, so here is what I made!

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
Mason Jar Salads, Snacks and Treats

 

I don’t want to even imagine how much more stressful things would have been if I had skipped making our salads and snacks along with everything else!Β  At least I thought ahead well enough to know that would be a bad idea, right?

Have you ever skipped a meal prep? Did it make things harder the following week, or was it not too noticeable? Or do you think I’m just crazy? πŸ˜› I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Weekly food prep

Sunday Meal Prep: February 21, 2016

Hey everyone! This week’s meal prep is all about keepin’ things simple πŸ™‚ I was still not feeling all that great when I was planning for this prep (prep posts are staggered by one week, so this was last week) so I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to spend much time in the kitchen. I would say it was a success!

This prep took around 3 – 3.5 hrs of active cooking, so not too bad at all πŸ™‚

Meal Prep

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Our main meals
Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Snacks and treats

 

Two main dishes for this week, other than more Pulled Pork for Draz: Slow Simmered Curried Chicken and Skillet Sausage and Veggies. Both of these turned out delicious!

The Curried Chicken is from the Easy Asian Recipes cookbook. I love this book! (Not an affiliate link)

The Skillet Sausage and Veggies is from the Taste of Home Everyday Slow Cooker & One Dish Recipes 2008 cookbook, another cookbook I really love! (Again, not an affiliate link) However, the recipe below is based on the recipe I used this week. Enjoy!

SausagePepperCabbage

I did also spend a little bit of time this week playing around with styling for food photography. What do you think?

That’s it for this week! What did you prep this week? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Weekly Food Prep

Sunday Meal Prep: February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I am super excited to share this week’s meal prep with you!

You ever have those weeks where you are trying to plan out your prep and it just isn’t coming to you? That was me planning out this week. But in the end it all fell together! It didn’t take me as long to cook as some weeks, but that definitely doesn’t mean it was lacking in taste!

Enjoy!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

 

As you can see, we have more Island Pulled Pork for this week. Draz seems to be on a new kick! πŸ˜› Along with that, we have one old favorite, one that we’ve had once and a new recipe as well!

I am always happy when we add Jambalaya on to the menu. It’s been one of my favorites for over 10 years! The repeat recipe was Slowcooker Beef and Broccoli and I love how this one turned out πŸ™‚ I do think I used a different cut of beef than last time though. It didn’t fall apart in quite the same way that it did the first time I made it. But that doesn’t really matter, because either way it was really tasty!

This Tortellini Chicken Noodle Soup was delicious! The one thing that I will say is that I wish I would have increased the broth some…It ended up a little thicker than I would prefer for soup. But it was still wonderful and I love the addition of the tortellini!

Not pictured: my grapes and cheese snacks and one batch of our breakfast burritos.

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
A little peak behind the scenes…my photography “helper”!

Jambalaya

How was your prep this week? Do you ever have difficulty picking meals when planning out your prep? What do you do if/when you do? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Also, don’t forget that the Jewelry Giveaway ends on Tuesday! So if you haven’t entered yet, head over and let me know which one you want!

Giveaway

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Weekly Food Prep

Sunday Meal Prep: February 7, 2016

(Note: Sorry for the delay. I had some technical difficulties. Hopefully we have gotten them solved.)

Hey everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend! Things are going pretty well here, except for my body seeming to turn on me 😦 My back is doing quite a bit better (yay!!) but now I’m fighting a rather nasty sore throat. So since I’m not feeling all that great, today’s post is going to get right to the point.

Enjoy!

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Spicy Chicken in TomatoesΒ 

Red Curry LentilsΒ 

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork: Island Style

Skinny Chicken Enchiladas

Sunflower and Oat Energy Balls

Sorry for the short (and late) post today! But keep an eye out for a post later this week…I have something exciting for you guys!

Did you do meal prep today? What did you cook? I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

 

weekly food prep

Sunday Meal Prep: January 31, 2016

Follow me on Bloglovin’

You ever have a week where nothing really sounds good? Where you try to plan it out, going through all your recipes and just can’t find anything that fits? That was definitely me this week! This hits me more in the winter months, and this week was especially hard.

Until I found these two soup recipes! These fit my mood perfectly. After I found those, all the rest of the menu just fell into place πŸ™‚

Of course, I also whipped up another batch of Skinny Chicken Enchiladas, Breakfast Burritos and our regular Mason Jar Salads. Along with that, we bought some extra chicken this week and I made extra of both Buffalo and Southwestern Shredded Chicken to freeze for later weeks!

On to the three new recipes!

Tuscan Tortellini Soup – This soup was creamy, rich and oh-so-delicious! Definitely a good choice and I will be making it again.Β I did make one small change and used evaporated milk instead of heavy cream.

Sausage, Potato and Spinach Soup – A bit lighter than the other soup but no less tasty. It kinda reminded me of a little spicier version of Zuppa Tuscana. I made the same change to this one, using evaporated milk instead of heavy cream.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken – I love this recipe…I think I’m finding that I really like recipes with cashews in them!

You know when you think you picked up everything at the store, only to realize later that you didn’t? Well…that is what happened this week! I ended up going to the store to pick up cashews and tortellini about halfway through my cooking session. The tortellini was totally my fault, but I’m blaming Draz for the cashews πŸ˜› I thought we had some left from the last time I used them in a recipe…turns out he enjoyed them as a snack instead!

So when I realized later that I didn’t buy enough eggs to make my normal double batch of burritos, there was no way I was going to the store for a second time! So this week was a bit smaller on the burritos, but still plenty for Draz and I to enjoy πŸ™‚

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

BreakfastBurritos

That’s it for this week! What did you cook this week? Any new recipes? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Sunday Meal Prep: January 24, 2016

Hey everyone! I am super excited to bring you this week’s meal prep! This week I am highlighting recipes from Eat Yourself Skinny. Kelly creates wonderful dishes that are not only healthy and filling, but full of flavor too! If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, you definitely should!

You’ve seen recipes from her a few times, particularly the Skinny Chicken Enchiladas that have been making an appearance the past few weeks. That one has quickly become one of Draz’s favorites, so don’t expect to see it going away anytime soon. Each week it’s “What would you like on the menu for next week?” and his response has been “Enchiladas!?” each time!

Now, on to this week’s meal prep!

DSCN1813_picmonkeyedDSCN1814_picmonkeyed

Along with our Mason Jar Salads, Sweet Potato Banana Bites, my grapes and cheese and the Skinny Chicken Enchiladas, I made three new recipes this week!

Sausage and Veggie Stir-fry: Her recipe calls for spicy chicken sausage, which I sadly couldn’t find. I did use the Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage of the same brand and it turned out wonderful! Hopefully I can find somewhere that sells the spicy version, because I would love to try it πŸ™‚

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili: Kelly is not exaggerating when she says it is the best turkey chili you will ever taste! If there is another, better recipe out there, I haven’t tried it. Quick to prep, easy, tasty, and healthy?! I think this will be our new stand-by for chili from now on!

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken: I like the versatility of this shredded chicken. So far I’ve used it in a couple wraps with some cheese and it was really good! I want to try it with some taco fillings…I think it will be even better!

That’s it for this week! Expect to see many more recipes from Kelly’s blog in the future. Her recipes are just too tasty!

What are you making this week? Any new recipes? I would love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Meal Prep 101: My Top Tricks and Tips to Make it Easier and Why I Love Meal Prepping!

With the new year upon us, many of us are motivated to try out new things to improve our lives. For me last year, it was meal prepping! I started out 2015 hopeful…but frustrated. I loved cooking good and healthy (or healthyish) meals for Draz and myself, but too often we would get home from work exhausted and reaching for quick and easy dishes like pasta or pre-made convience foods like frozen pizza. I had tried planning out menus for us, but a lot of times this just ended up with some of the meals made and the rest thrown out after it went bad. This was definitely not the lifestyle I wanted for us.

I had started getting into reading blogs the year before and had seen some of them talk about meal prepping. I knew that this could be an option to help us get on track. I jumped right in…which definitely lead to some mistakes and some exhausting days in the kitchen. But there has been a lot of learning this year! πŸ™‚

Reasons to Meal Prep:

  1. Convenient. Yes, there is a time-investment, both on the day you plan and the day you prep. But that time is much less than cooking each meal fresh when you eat it!
  2. Healthier. If desired, you can make sure that eat food you prep is healthy, or in line with your desired diet. When you already have delicious, healthy food made, it lessens the temptation to go with frozen pizza!
  3. Saves money. You can prepare your grocery list based on your meal prepping menu. This saves so much! Not only does this lessen impulse buys when you are doing your grocery shopping, it also helps prevent those “Oh no, we are out of this ingredient I need for dinner!” trips to the store!
  4. Lowers stress. Ok, this might just be me, but the whole “What’s for dinner?” thing can be stressful. I have enough going on that I don’t want to worry about what I want to eat, how long it takes to cook, etc. And I don’t even have kids! I know there are tons of people out there that are busier than me, meaning that they would benefit even more!
  5. Healthier. Yup, I needed to say this one again! Meal prepping has made such a huge difference on my fitness journey! Quite possibly more than any other individual thing.

Getting Started:

  1. Plan, plan, plan. Set aside some time prior to the day you plan on prepping to make your grocery list and plan out how much food you will need for the week. Also take this time to decide what meals and/or snacks you are prepping. I use Wednesday of each week to lay out my recipes, check what ingredients I currently have, and write my grocery list. I like doing this a few days prior to actual shopping, so if I forgot anything I have a few days to think about it.
  2. Containers. Check how many containers you currently have and will need on average. It is incredibly frustrating to finish cooking and then be scrambling to figure out how to put it away. I actually would love to get some new containers, but my favorites are my mason jars!
  3. Space. Along that same line, make sure you have enough room in your fridge and freezer to put your food away!
  4. Time. Plan for more time than you think you will need. This is especially true for the first couple months that you are prepping. The first few times I prepped I felt like I had spent the whole day in the kitchen and was exhausted! But even then it was well worth it. Now, even with prepping all of our meals and snacks, it only takes 4-6 active hours, and sometimes only 2-3. (Please, please keep in mind I prep a lot of food. You don’t have to spend nearly that long!)

Tips and Tricks:

  1. If you have a bunch of veggies needed for different dishes, cut them all up at the same time! This cuts time getting supplies out repeatedly.
  2. Know how your food is being cooked! I suggest varying cooking methods. Having everything needing to be in the oven or on the stove is difficult. And once I planned for 3 dishes needing a slow cooker! Granted, I have two, but this was still an unexpected difficulty. Now I try to pick a variety of cooking methods each week.
  3. Multi-task! While something is simmering you can be chopping veggies. The same rule goes for just about anything else. That being said, pace yourself. It can be very stressful if you try to do too many dishes at once.
  4. Clean as you go. This is especially true if you are planning a longer prep session. I usually find 2 points while I’m cooking that are good “pause points” that I can use to clean up, load and start the dishwasher, handwash things, etc. This makes things so much easier and less stressful! I will admit, this took me a few months to figure out and a few more to put into regular practice!

 

Just a few of my meal preps over the last year!

Do you meal prep or are you just starting? If you do, what is your favorite thing or part of prepping? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below!

Sara (1)

 

Sunday Meal Prep: January 17, 2016

Have you or your significant other loved a dish so much that you just want it week after week? Well…that is the case in our house right now. These Skinny Chicken Enchiladas have recently been on here and probably will be again soon! Draz is just loving them, plus they are so easy to make and individualize for both of us!

Outside of that, I picked out a couple of my own older recipes that caught my eye this week. Our breakfast burritos are back too! Our large stock in the freezer is finally running low, so it was time to make some more. Enjoy!

DSCN1760_picmonkeyedDSCN1754_picmonkeyed

I promise these dishes taste better than they look! (I really need to work on my photography) Chicken was the focus of the week, but with such varying flavors. That is one of the things I love about cooking with chicken.

And that’s it for this week! Make sure to check out the recipes below! They are both easy and delicious!

What are you cooking this week? Bringing back any old favorites? I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave me a comment below!

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Sara (1)

Easy & Yummy Slow Cooker Chicken

DSCN1757_picmonkeyed

Ingredients:

~2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

2 (10 oz) cans cream of mushroom soup

1 (2 oz) envelope onion soup mix

1/2 c milk

1 c carrots, chopped

6-7 medium-large potatoes, cut 1″-1.5″ (I use red potatoes)

Put chicken into slow cooker. In a bowl, mix soup, onion mix, and milk; stir. Add into slow cooker. Add cut vegetable’s to the slow cooker and mix. Cook on low for 7-9 hours; mix before serving. Enjoy!

Easy Parmesan Garlic Chicken

DSCN1756_picmonkeyed

Ingredients:

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4-6 portions

1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

1 oz Italian salad dressing mix

1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Mix cheese, dressing mix and garlic powder. Moisten chicken with water; coat with cheese mixture. Place in shallow baking dish (non-stick or foil-lined) Bake 20-25 min.

Can serve alone or with spaghetti.

 

 

Sunday Meal Prep – January 10, 2016

Hey everyone! I hope that your first full week of 2016 went great! Our week had some hiccups, but if anything they just reminded me how happy I am that we do meal prep! I spent a couple days on MUCH less sleep than I usually prefer and let’s just say I don’t function well on less sleep. It was really helpful to not have to worry about what we were going to eat!

This week I tried out a new recipe, plus one that is quickly becoming a household favorite! Enjoy!

DSCN1733_picmonkeyedDSCN1736_picmonkeyed

These Skinny Chicken Enchiladas are so wonderful! Enough so that I made some extra shredded chicken specifically to freeze for future batches. Draz is requesting this on a regular basis, and one of the things I love about it is that I can use regular white tortillas for his and whole wheat for mine. One dish fit to both of our preferences!

New this week is Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli. I don’t think I can say enough about this one! The meat was a little pricier than what we usually purchase, but it was well worth it! The beef just fell apart and it was a very flavorful dish. I definitely see us making this one again. πŸ™‚

And that’s it for this week! What are you making? Any new dishes? I would love to hear your thoughts and what you are cooking up, so please leave a comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!

Sunday Meal Prep – Jan 3, 2016

Welcome to 2016! I think it’s only fitting that my first post for the new year is my favorite weekly staple! Meal prepping really transformed my life last year and it’s not a habit I plan on stopping anytime soon. This week is pretty small, what with the holidays and all.

DSCN1718_picmonkeyed

Not pictured are my usual Sweet Potato Banana Bites, which were made but somehow didn’t make it into the picture. As for our Cookie Dough Protein Bites, we had a bunch left over (too many holiday sweet eaten instead!), so I decided to finish those up this week instead of making more.

Both of this week’s main dishes are new and from Ali over at Gimme Some Oven. If you haven’t checked out her site yet, you should! She has so many wonderful dishes on there!

The Cashew Curry Chicken was so tasty! I’ve never actually cooked with cashews before, but I love trying out new ingredients and this one was a hit. In her recipe Ali talks about blending the sauce or leaving it as is with some chunks. We left it as is and loved it!

As for this Tortellini Soup….If you haven’t noticed yet, I have a serious love of both soup and pasta! This recipe is delicious and combines my two favorite things! This recipe is wonderful and it will definitely be made again! I did make a few adjustments, based on what we had available. I used:

  • dried oregano instead of fresh basil (sad, I know, but sometimes you have to make due),
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes and 1/2 can plain crushed tomatoes instead of the 28 oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 4 c homemade vegetable stock and 2 c chicken stock. I didn’t thaw the correct amount of vegetable stock beforehand. On the upside, this was the first recipe I used my homemade stock in!
  • red onion instead of white
  • And a little more sausage than the recipe calls for, but not by much

And that’s it for this week! I hope you all are having a wonderful start to 2016! What are you cooking up this week? Any new recipes? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below!

Sara (1)

Want to get started meal prepping yourself? Check out these posts for my top tips and my staple recipes!

Need some extra inspiration? Check out last week’s meal prep for other recipes and ideas!