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I feel as though I should apologize for the quietness that has fallen upon this place the last few months.  While I just about physically cringe at the word, ‘busy’, that’s exactly what life has been.  Good busy and bad busy.  The kind that fills your cup, and drains it just as quickly.  I keep looking for things to eliminate each week, to make breathing room (both literally and figuratively), some weeks it’s easy…and others not so much.  What I have found is that being organized seems to help, especially when it comes to my kitchen.  Outside of that, I’m still trying to figure it all out.

How to Meal Prep

Confession:  I am a dismal failure when it comes to meal planning.  In concept it is wonderful and efficient for your  family as well as your budget.  No matter how many times I tried to be successful, it just hasn’t worked.   I craved flexibility.  While I confess to being pretty organized in most areas of our household, the kitchen is not one of them.  I’m a pretty ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’ kind of girl when it comes to meals.  What all my failures at meal planning taught me is that we eat a lot of different variations of the same meals.  I keep things pretty simple with my cooking, as it seems to be what works best for us.  We have lots of mexican dishes, pizza, pasta, egg dishes, breakfasts for dinner, soups and one bowl suppers.  The running theme is that we have our main item and it’s built upon with whatever fresh fruits and veggies are in season.

How to Meal Prep

All of this insight led me to food prepping.  Each week, I make a rough outline of what I have on hand for meals.  This includes produce, staple items like beans, eggs, or grains as well as ingredients for any baked goods.  From there I fill in the holes by making a list of what needs to be picked up at the grocery store.  Usually, this is largely produce items.  From there I start the prepping…

  • Wash and drain beans…usually black, pinto and garbanzo
  • Wash and chop veggies for snacking, salads and packed lunches
  • Cook any pasta we might be eating that week…be sure to toss it with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Bake a sweet treat or two, we especially love these, very simple bites.  For the cookies I will only bake a dozen, then scoop out the cookie dough onto baking sheet, freeze and bag to use for other weeks (I only do this every 2-3 weeks).
  • Make jam
  • Make a jar of green tea or herbal tea concentrate
  • Roast veggies for salads or side dishes
  • Wash and bag lettuce
  • Make any salad dressings, vinaigrettes, salsas, sauces or veggie dips

After all the food baked, washed, cooked, drained and laid out, then I set to labeling.  This may seem a bit over the top, but there is good reason behind it.  My boys are famous for opening the fridge and saying, ‘there’s nothing to eat in here!’  Once I would point out what was in the various fridge containers they were able to assemble whatever snack they were craving.  Now, with the label system, they can see exactly what their choices are and get what they need.

How to Meal Prep

While this may sound like a lot of work, it really isn’t that bad.  I think the most I’ve ever put into it is 90 minutes on a Sunday afternoon.  I start with items that will take longest first (roasted veggies, baked goods) and while they are in the oven, I work on everything else.  I pull the boys in to help too.  Not only does it get them in the kitchen, they are able to contribute their suggestions about our meals for the week.

You may be wondering, is all this work actually worth it?  The times I haven’t taken the time to prep for the week,  regretted it.  I just didn’t realize how much time that little bit of work on Sunday afternoon, was saving me during the week.

What’s the best part about meal prep?  You can completely customize it to your family and budget, and it’s flexible enough for busy families on the go.  I love that if we are headed out the door to a night of soccer games and activities I can throw a quick dinner in one of our lunch containers and take it on the road.  Less nights eating out is always good…for our bodies and our pocketbooks.

How to Meal Prep

Below are a few other tips that have been helpful to me in getting started.  I especially loved the post Tracy over on Shutterbean did on Meal Prep as part of her High Straightenance series.

Invest in some good containers.

I bought a few sets of these.  I like the glass because it’s clear, but also can go right to the microwave.

Start small.

I didn’t add any baked goods until I’d been at it for a couple of weeks.  This is supposed to be a helpful process, not an overwhelming one.

Bag your lettuce.

The first couple of weeks I tried to chop the lettuce for our salads.  It never lasted.  Now I wash it, wrap it in a paper towel and put it in a large ziploc bag. It lasts well over a week, if we don’t polish it off first.

Try it for a month.

It takes time to find your groove with this, and develop your own system.  Give yourself the chance to make it truly work for you.

Do you food/meal prep for your weeks?  I’m still working on perfecting my method, and would love to hear your tips!

 

 

 

Back in June, I traveled down to New Orleans to work with Laura on a book project.  I was fortunate enough to stay in her home during my visit.  We spent some great evenings in the kitchen preparing meals. I’m sure you can guess that two food bloggers in the kitchen, just about always adds up to goodness.  However, it wasn’t the recipes that blew me away (although everything we ate was amazing), it was the way she made use of everything she had on hand.  Even the smallest amount of left over ingredients from a recipe was saved to be used for another.  It was an incredibly simple idea, and I loved seeing how she did it.  Nothing wasted, everything used.

How to Make Nachos

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So, way back in January, a friend suggested I should sign up for my first full marathon.  I’d always sworn that this was something I would NEVER do, but as it happens, good friends can be quite persuasive.  With roughly half a dozen half marathons and countless 5k and 10k races under my belt, I figured maybe it was a good time to go ahead and make the leap.  Training began back in June, 16 weeks of training, ultimately ending at the start line on October 13th at the Chicago Marathon.

I haven’t spoken a whole lot about it here, mostly because I’m trying to avoid being this person….

marathon ecard

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Despite the fact that we went back to school last week, we are still finding ways to enjoy summer for as long as possible.  Bike rides, fire pits with s’mores and running through the sprinkler after a long day in the classroom, just to name a few.   Just yesterday, I was talking to yet another person that said it felt like the summer was gone in the blink of an eye.  I told her I agreed, so we were doing the best we could to enjoy the warm days while they last.

The Rocket Sandwich

The Rocket Sandwich

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So, as of yesterday, we have exactly 14 days until school starts.  It just doesn’t seem possible…where did the summer go?  June was a blur, July was vacation and now here we are in August.  While I still need to buy school supplies (least favorite job ever) I’m holding onto bits of summer.  We’ve got 14 more days, right?  Why not make the most of them!

Avocado Melt

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