A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Meal prep for a healthy week

on August 25, 2014

Yesterday, I spent part of the evening working on preparing food for the week. This is definitely part of my Sunday afternoon routine these days and it is so helpful! It’s one of those tips that you read over and over and yet it looks different for everyone. I thought I’d walk through my meal planning process, with all of the working mom realism that comes into play.

– First, I look at my schedule for the week and check with hubby to figure out how many meals we actually need, who will be home to eat and which days are going to be late or otherwise challenging for food. In our house, we usually go out to eat at Village Inn for Wednesday for Free Pie Wednesday, so I never have to cook dinner that night (yay!) and there are other nights where I may be working late, hubby may be going out for the beer with the guys or some other issue that throws a monkey wrench into things.

– Next, I check out CSA basket to see what fresh produce I have for the week to incorporate into our plans because those are things I’ve already paid for and don’t want to waste! I also check to see what proteins I already have in my freezer, like ground turkey I didn’t use in an earlier week or something else.

CSA bag, with turnips, bell pepper, jalapenos, bell pepper and corn I have to work into the meal plan for the week.

CSA bag, with turnips, bell pepper, jalapenos, bell pepper and corn I have to work into the meal plan for the week.

– I brainstorm a list of meals for the week for Darrell and Oliver, looking through cookbooks or asking what they’ve been craving. The CSA bag comes with a newsletter that can be a good source for ideas as well. Meals for the week in our house include a few frequent themes:

  • Something in the slow cooker so there’s at least one day I’m coming home to a meal that’s already made.
  • Something that doesn’t require thawing anything (or at least something that’s a quick thaw) because inevitably I will forget to thaw whatever protein I need at least once during the week. Sigh. Last night, I’d planned on Italian meatball sliders. I went upstairs to make them and realized the ground turkey was still in the freezer. Oops! On this week’s list, I had the sandwich thin pizza option so I decided to go ahead and make those last night because it didn’t require thawing anything and I bumped the sliders back to tomorrow. Always have a couple of pantry options or things you can throw together quickly for those days you forget some crucial prep step in the rush to get out of the house in the morning. I’m not the only person that happens to, right?
  • Something that allows me to throw all of the components back in the freezer if I never get around to making it. If something comes up and we end up eating out or having more leftovers than expected and I don’t get around to a meal that I’ve planned for, being able to toss the components back in the freezer keeps it from going to waste. I usually plan for an option like this for Thursday or Friday.

– Once we make the list of meals, I check for ingredients I already have so I don’t unnecessarily double purchase things and make a shopping list. I know my shopping list doesn’t have to cover the whole week, because I usually do a big shopping trip on the weekend and a produce run mid-week because we got through fruit like crazy! When you get everything home, think about what you’re going to use in a day or two and what things can go in the freezer.

– Anything that can be prepped in advance, in terms of chopping or peeling veggies, washing fruit, or cooking components can be taken on Sunday afternoon when there’s usually a lot more time available. We’ve been getting corn in our CSA basket lately and I’ve fallen in love with roasting with the husk on. So quick and easy and the silk comes off easily after it comes out of the oven. Definitely try it!

Just cut the tassle off the end and roast for 30 minutes or so. It steams in the husk and then the husk and silk all peel off easily when they cool.

Just cut the tassle off the end and roast for 30 minutes or so. It steams in the husk and then the husk and silk all peel off easily when they cool.

I (or even better, my husband) also prep a big batch of oatmeal for the week so I’ve got ready made, healthy breakfasts for the week.

– Think ahead for how you’ll use leftovers. Will they be lunches, reincorporated into another meal or go into the freezer for future meals? It helps tremendously to go ahead and pack away the leftovers for lunch or the freezer or wherever. We keep a list on the pantry door that’s divided into grocery shopping, meals planned and leftovers so we don’t lose track of things in the back of the fridge. We tend to use leftovers for lunch or make quick sandwiches, so it is easy to throw everything together each night and have a little less to do on crazy weekday mornings.

Knowing I’ve already laid the ground work for healthy meals for the week makes it easier to resist temptations of things like the smell of fried chicken at the grocery store or those golden arches on the drive home for a long day. How do you get ready for the week?

Our family pictures turned out great this weekend! I love this shot of my guy's silly faces.

Our family pictures turned out great this weekend! I love this shot of my guy’s silly faces.

10 responses to “Meal prep for a healthy week

  1. Great tips! I wish I could say we are diligent with meal planning, but we aren’t lol. It is something I’d like to start doing more on a Sunday afternoon when we don’t have anything else to do though!

  2. leannenalani says:

    I don’t do dinner prep but actually do prep for work – breakfast and lunch. Usually I pack 2 days ahead and just leave the lunch bags in the fridge. I’m always rushing in the mornings so I don’t have time to do any thinking!

    • I’d never manage to bring my lunch to work if I didn’t make it the night before. Mornings in our house are always rushed too! The less thinking, the better, especially given how long it takes for my coffee to kick in!

  3. Great tips for meal prep! I love making big batches of oatmeal on Sunday’s for the work week! Add a little fresh fruit, some nuts, and a dash of cinnamon and you’ve got a great, filling, healthy meal! 🙂 I definitely could be much better about lunch and dinner prep, though, so I appreciate these tips! I have definitely missed a crucial step in the dinner prep process a time or two, typically it involves not defrosting a key ingredient, so you are not alone, friend!

  4. […] Here’s another post I wrote about how I approach meal planning that may help you get […]

  5. […] I’ve written here a couple of times about our approach to meal planning and preparation (here and here), but I’m going to add the recommendation for this book: Dinner The Playbook (the […]

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