Do you often feel like you’re failing at meal prepping if you don’t end up on Sunday night with a fridge full of pyrex with lunches and dinners for the next 5 days? I feel for you! I love to cook and I have a strong grasp on meal planning, but I am not able to spend half of my Sunday prepping for the week. Currently, I am a stay at home mom to three children; 8, 5 and 2, and the 2 year old doesn’t nap anymore. So how do I manage to prep and cook? I do NOT use 2-4 hours on a Sunday to prep all my food for the week. I have tried that, and I cannot get it to work for me.
What I DO do on a weekly basis:
-Plan 1 breakfast, 1 lunch & 3 dinners for the week. And a BIG BATCH of roasted veggies.
-clean out the fridge (this is a MUST before groceries get to your house!)
Now to the “Batch cooking” part of this:
Like I said above, I don’t cook it all in one day. I find myself using more of the “Batch cook” method several days a week and then make dinners every other day. “Batch cook” means I will make a big serving of something that can be used for a variety of meals.
When I batch cook, I break it down by macros:
Carbs: rice (in the rice cooker-so quick and easy!), roasted sweet potatoes, SFM Pinto beans, and baked potatoes.
Protein: I always have a single protein option. This week for higher fat protein I had hard boiled eggs and chicken thighs. Towards the end of the week I did grilled chicken tenders and bought 2 packages of shrimp cocktail at Costco. This helped SO MUCH for a high protein low fat low carb appetizer over a holiday weekend.
Fats: I always have avocado mash cups and avocados on hand, and a few sauces.
NOTE: a breakfast doesn’t always need to be some meal that is cooked. This week, coming back from vacation, it was an oatmeal packet, hard boiled eggs and some Applegate Chicken Sausage. NO PREP AT ALL
This was my barely-any-cook breakfast for the week. Hard boiled eggs left over from the week prior, frozen chicken sausages and an oatmeal packet.
SAME THING FOR LUNCHES! Some weeks it’s purchasing 2 rotisserie chickens and shredding the meat. This can be used in a taco bowl with batch cooked rice, added to a salad, made into a quesadilla…the possibilities are endless.
When did I actually cook this week?
Monday: While I was grilling chicken thighs and cooking baked potatoes in the air fryer, I cooked hard boiled eggs in the Instant Pot. When the eggs were done, I cooked frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot to have on hand later in the week for the dill pickle chicken salad.
Tuesday: I finally made the dill pickle chicken salad.
Wednesday: Prepped my roasted veggie mix and made SFM Tuna Noodle Casserole for dinner.
Thursday: I did not do any cooking, but meal planned for long weekend.
Let’s talk LEFTOVERS!
I make sure my dinners can be eaten 2 nights in a row. Not having to cook dinner every night really helps right now. Two of my three kids are still pretty needy, and without nap time, it can be a challenge to cook every night.
I don’t mind leftovers. I love leftovers. The BEST FEELING is opening the fridge and seeing so many food options. For certain things that need a little boost for texture, I opt for warming them up (think diced up chicken thighs) in the air fryer.
If you don’t like leftovers, see if there’s another way you can enjoy your batch cooked food. Reheating in a cast iron pan or reheating in the Air Fryer are great options. Also read, What Do You Do When You Don’t Like Leftovers.
Have some Pre Cooked Items on hand.
Buy a few pre-cooked items when at the grocery store. This came in CLUTCH for me heading into an overwhelming weekend. I went to Costco for stuff for some BBQs and found 2 precooked items that are high in protein and moderate in fats. NOTE – Make sure you check labels! Some precooked items have protein and fat almost the same.
For me, the planning and grocery shopping isn’t the “hard part”, it’s figuring out when to cook. Currently my 2 year old is super needy/bossy. Hubby also works from home so I need to be careful about her playing independently in basement.
My final thoughts for you:
- If you CANNOT USE half a day to prep, ask yourself, “How can I utilize the time in my day to prep food?” Sometimes the easiest time for me to cook is in the morning after breakfast when my kids are playing on their own and before we leave the house for swim lessons. Or doubling up when I’m cooking dinner in the evening.
- Consider batch cooking!
- Don’t consider yourself “bad” at meal prepping if your prep doesn’t look like everyone else’s.