Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly Meals: Planning, Prepping, and Precooking

Fall is always busy in our house. And when things get busy, it can be hard to make and eat healthy, fresh foods. I’ve found that it all comes down to the three P’s:

Planning

I plan our meals on a big white board. Throughout the week, I write down ideas. If I see a new recipe I like and that seems simple enough, I add it. I also plan meals around the contents of our CSA box. Here is what we got this week:


Hubby also adds meals he’d like to eat. And we ask the toddler (and more and more he just tells us) what he’d like to eat.

Prepping

I buy most of our groceries on Saturday and Sunday. I have found that spending some time in the kitchen after I get home, washing and prepping fruits and veggies, makes a huge difference. If there is a bowl of washed fruit, we’ll eat it. If it’s not washed, we, especially the guys, are less likely to eat it. I also put together individual bags of washed and prepped veggies for soups, sauces, and other recipes. It’s a huge time saver during the week.

Precooking

I have to admit that I’m not yet as good at this as I could be! I always think, “Oh, I can do that the day we eat the meal. It just takes half an hour.” But more often than not, there just isn’t that extra half hour. In the fall, I try to make one soup and a big pot of stew on the weekend for us to eat during the week (for lunches and dinners). However, there are many more things I plan on doing:
  • Cook beans for the week (can be done in a slow cooker)
  • Cook pasta (I know it doesn’t take long, but it can be a real lifesaver on busy evenings! I make mostly brown rice pasta these days, and it reheats surprisingly well)
  • Make pasta sauce to go with the pasta
  • Boil eggs (great for lunches and to add to salads)
  • Cut up fruit and put into small containers (really part of prepping)
  • Make salad kits (washed and cut up lettuce, other veggies to add, nuts, a little cheese, hard boiled egg, etc. – all kept in bags. It takes only a minute to make a dressing and toss the salad)
  • Bake bread (I plan to do a lot more of that!)
This week I prepped and precooked the following:
  • Washed grapes and put them into individual containers for lunches.
  • Cut up melon and divided into small containers for lunches.
  • Washed pluots and put in a bowl on the dining table.
  • Boiled eggs.
  • Made salad kits with lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, and green onions.
  • Made butternut squash soup.
  • Made vegetable curry.
Weekly Meals:

Meal 1: Butternut squash soup
Meal 2: Vegetable curry and brown rice.
Meal 3: Salmon and roasted veggies.
Meal 4: Tami’s (Nutmeg Notebook) Beef and Bean Chili, made in the slow cooker, will be slightly adapted due to what I have on hand.
Meal 5: Spaghetti and tomato/veggie sauce (the toddler can never get enough of this…).

Questions: Do you plan meals? Do you precook meals? Kelly from Fitting Back In always does a fantastic job of precooking an entire week’s worth of food! She is an inspiration! What are some meal planning and/or precooking tips you would like to share? What’s on your menu this week? 

Be well,
Andrea

18 comments:

  1. I love this post and your 3 p's! I have been slacking a bit more on the pre-cooking... Although I did cook up my beans this morning! You're an inspiration to get me going too... Keep it up!

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  2. Planning and prepping are So important! The weeks I don't do this, I never end up feeling full enough. Those few extra minutes on the weekend of prep make a world of difference.

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  3. your 3 p's are PERFECT!

    I go in spurts, than Piddle out :) and have to start all over again.

    absolutely keeping a well stocked pantry/fridge is crucial for me!

    xo

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  4. I always prep my fruits and veggies. I am not a huge meal planner... more of a "what sounds good to me today" cook.

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  5. These are great ideas! Plus, they will definitely help me in becoming even MORE organized (hehehe)!

    Seriously though, I think I should put a little more effort into meal planning and prep. I love the idea of pre-boiled eggs for a snack or a salad. The only thing I have been doing lately is making a huge green salad and having it throughout the week instead of prepping a smaller portion separately every day. That definitely helps at meal times!

    See, you ARE organized!

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  6. Great tips! I need together in the habit of the 3P's more often as well! Especially when it comes to planning with my organic box!

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  7. i do some prep but no where near as much as this. these are great ideas!

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  8. Fabulous tips! You are so organized and what a difference it makes in how the week goes. Isn't it awesome that the toddler is sharing what he wants to eat! Love it!

    I do several of the things you do but I have never made up the salad kits. Great idea!

    I have the same thing going on here, if the fruit is prepped they eat it, if not it goes to waste.

    I like to double recipes and freeze the extra dish to pull out when time is short. When I brown hamburger I do twice as much as I need and freeze the extra. Make a double batch of meatballs and so on.

    When I make brown rice I make a huge batch and freeze half. It reheats beautifully.

    My hubby and kids also like white basmati or jasmine rice so I make full rice cooker of it once a week for them. It can be used in so many ways!

    When we fire up the BBQ we do extra burgers, turkey burgers,chicken, roast or whatever we are making and then freeze the extras.I will mix up a couple different recipes at once and cook ahead.

    When measuring out oatmeal and the spices and add-ins I do a weeks worth of individual servings into containers that have lids.Then I only have to add the liquid when I want to cook it.

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  9. If I'm in the kitchen cooking a meal, I'll always cook something for another meal at the same time.

    Like maybe I'm making spaghetti for dinner but I'll throw a chicken into the oven to roast as well for lunch meat the next few days.

    I need to find more crockpot meals but for now I pretty much ROAST everything. It's a serious life saver. :)

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  10. We have a very similar prep style! I typically get my groceries on my two days off; Sunday and Wednesday, and I always start to wash and cut produce right after unloading the groceries. I also cook meat, boil eggs, and do anything else that might prepare me for weekly meals. I also utilize my white board for recipe ideas, and I keep a running lost of favorite blogger recipes! It works pretty well.
    Today I asked Nick if he would eat salmon with breading (aka Panko crumbs, like in your previous post) and he said no way. Darn it. However, I'm still going to try it soon. It's on my list! Pank ois my new favorite ingredient.

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  11. I always make a "loose" plan. Sometimes I precook and sometimes I don't.

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  12. You have to be one of the most organized cooks that I know! ;)

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  13. I always plan my meals but I never precook my meals. I look at my schedule and if I don't have much time on a specific day I plan a meal that will be ready within 30 minutes. If necessary I do chop up veggies the night before but never a week ahead. Every night after dinner I look at the plan for the next day and prepare what I can prepare.

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  14. One trick that I learned from my Mom was to make big batches. When I make pasta sauce I make enough for that night's meal plus enough for at least 2 more dinners. Same goes for chilli, stew and broth. I use my crock pot for big batches of pulled pork which I divide and freeze with no sauce, too....

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  15. You have such a lovely way of honoring food in your family!

    I usually make a dish or two over the weekend to get me partway into the week. Or I make double what I'm making for a specific meal and eat the second portion for lunch.

    Other times I get lazy and don't prep. In that case, I have my go-to dinner -- a bowl of steamed veggies topped with eggs and sausage or meat, drizzled with a sauce. And sprinkled with nutritional yeast! Sometimes I'll dump it into a frying pan and scramble it all up. Yummy, filling, and very warming.

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  16. I rarely do planning...I usually fall for my usual ingredients, and sometimes when I feel extra creative I just whip things up in a fly. There's a reason why I have so many odd things in my kitchen though!

    But I do pre-cook. I like to pre-cook vegetables like cauliflower and cabbage that normally takes a while too cook, and also a big pot of rice or pasta.

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  17. Before moving I planned a lot more. Just finally unpacked all the cookbooks, but I am in CA now, so I will do more when I get back to Japan. I also prep things in advance when I can. But since I work at home now, or I am home most of the time, I can just start working on it when I know Ryan is on his way. By then I am usually looking for something to occupy my time.

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  18. I'm so with you on the planning. This week hasn't been great and I'm feeling it. Love the boiled egg addition on the planning list. I was just thinking it's chili weather, yum.

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