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!

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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!  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? 😛 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!

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! 🙂

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 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!

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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. 🙂

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

Hey everyone! So….you know how a couple weeks ago I said I didn’t see myself changing up my salads anytime soon? I was wrong 🙂 I don’t know if it’s the limited activity level or what, but I definitely had the itch to try out some new stuff this week! Since I made multiple types of salads, I have put together some infographic-style pictures to break down how I put our salads together.

Enjoy!

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Snacks and Sweets! I am loving the addition of cubed cheese with my grapes, which is my first snack of each day. This one is a white cheddar with Habanero and is delicious!
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Along with our breakfast burritos, I decided to experiment with freezing Tuna Quinoa Cakes and cooked quinoa. Hopefully it turns out well!
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I decided that I have been having a little bit too much to eat for my breakfast, so decided to reduce the size of my breakfast burritos. I also switched from white to wheat tortillas.
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The full spread of meals…plus two photobombing pups!
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Balsamic Pork Chops with Roasted Balsamic Asparagus and Chili con Carne with Brown & Wild Rice.
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Greek Yogurt Parmesan Chicken with Saucy Green Beans, some leftover taco meat and tuna quinoa cake, and a couple hardboiled eggs!
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The Chili con Carne again, with brown & wild rice and steamed veggies. I wanted to add a little extra about this dish….This is the first recipe I have made from this new cookbook and I love it! I am so impressed and thrilled that these ladies put out their cookbook. I found them on Instagram through the BBG community and they are a constant inspiration to me! It looks great ladies! Check out their site for more information!

And now for the salads!

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For those of you that have been here for a while, this is the original jar salad that I started off with. It’s as delicious as I remember!
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Salad with Loaded Turkey Meatballs. I just discovered this site and I love it already!
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Taco Salad! I honestly wasn’t sure about this one when I put it together. I wasn’t sure if I would like the taco meat cold, but it turned out wonderful! Both this salad and the turkey meatball salad are inspired by this post.
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Both of these are Boyfriend’s salads. The Shredded Buffalo Chicken is another one that you have seen for weeks. It’s definitely still one of our favorites. He also had some with the Loaded Turkey Meatballs.

BalsamicAsparagus

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And that’s it for this week! What are you cooking up this week? Anything new?

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

Hey everyone and welcome back for this week’s meal prep! This week was pretty quick with a lot of really tasty dishes, so let’s get to it!

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As always, our salads are pretty much a requirement. I’m still in love with the Buffalo Shredded Chicken, so I don’t think our salads will be changing up anytime soon, though if you have any other great protein sources for Jar Salads I would love to give them a try!

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I made enough breakfast burritos to last us a little over two weeks! We have just recently changed up the ingredients a little and I love the difference of adding in sautéed onion and bell peppers.

As always, the Sweet Potato Banana Bites are a favorite snack. I would love to hear your ideas for some new snacks to add in to the rotation!

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Root Veggie Bake with Andouille Sausage and Italian Sausage Kale Ziti are my two repeat dishes this week. As for the new dish of the week, this Jalapeno Popper Chicken came together great and smelled delicious!

That’s it for this week! What are you cooking this week? I would love some new ideas as I’ve been in a little bit of a rut and would love to add some new food to our regular rotation of dishes.

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!