Cooking,  Food,  Meal Prep

Planning Ahead

Sundays are for meal planning and prepping. Since this Sunday is a rainy dreary day it was the perfect day to get ready for the week! Meal planning and prepping has been such a savior to me, especially now that I am back to going into the office almost every day. Having the week’s meals planned out takes stress off of me to figure out what to eat for dinner when I walk in the door at night.

IMG_2349Usually on Saturday’s I sit down and figure out what I would like to have for dinners during the week and what is on sale at the grocery store. I know a lot of people like to stock up when they food shop. I can do that sometimes, but there are times I forget to take meat out to defrost then I can’t prep the meal when I want to. This year I am using a new planner by SimplyNotebooks. This Etsy shop has some wonderful planners, notebooks, and stationary. The planner that I purchased has a section for meal planning and grocery list – score! Since this is already built into my planner I utilize this to plan my week ahead.

IMG_2327IMG_2392I go to the grocery store early on Sunday morning to food shop. And when I say early, I’m usually out of the door by 7 am. Yes, I know crazy, but I prefer being at the store before the it gets to crazy there. This allows me to beat the rush of shoppers and have space to look. When I get home I try to make things easy for myself, so if I buy the fixings for a salad, I prep the produce I bought and make the salad rather than putting everything away just to pull it out later in the day. The same for any fruit I may buy to make a fruit salad. Why put things away to just pull them out again. This week I made a large salad for lunches and a fruit salad for snacking. I do this so that I have a pre-made salad to bring for lunch (I’ll usually add a hard-boiled egg or another protein) or I have it for a side with dinner. I can also pack the fruit salad for a late day snack at work rather than going to the vending machine!

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fullsizeoutput_910Last Sunday I prepped not only my dinners for the week, but also breakfast. I have been trying to be more conscious of what I eat and I’m not going to lie, usually my breakfast will be whatever is easy in the cafeteria at work – a bagel, sugary cereal offering, sometimes oatmeal or cream of wheat if it is ready when I am there. The cafeteria is trying to now offer better alternatives and are preparing made to order smoothies. I have been trying to have that for breakfast instead but I find that some mornings I am still a little hungry. Instead of going back to the cafeteria and grabbing a slice lemon cake or carrot cake I decided to try these breakfast oatmeal cupcakes. These were easy to make and I got 26 cupcakes out of the recipe. I stored the cupcakes in a gallon size storage bag and placed them in the refrigerator. I am now going into my second week of these oatmeal cupcakes!

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Morning Smoothie – Frozen Mango, Pineapple and Strawberries, OJ and Greek Yogurt

This Sunday I’m prepping snacks. This time I’m using oats in these dark chocolate mocha IMG_2408energy bites and carrot cake energy bites. I like having these snacks on hand to that I can throw one or to in a snack bag and throw them in my work tote. I can snack on them midday or if I am going to yoga or the gym after work I can snack on them so that I am not too hungry before/during/right after my workout.

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Afternoon pick me up

After my snack prep, I moved on to my dinner prep.

Here are the meals I have planned for the week and how I prepped for each of them.

Sunday – Fettucine and Shrimp Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Alfredo

IMG_2420Sunday dinners are all about the heavy comfort foods. Staying with the theme of let’s lighten things up, instead of an alfredo sauce with creams I made an alfredo sauce with a cauliflower base. This was a quick and easy sauce to make by just cooking the cauliflower in either stock, water, or both. I chose to cook the cauliflower in vegetable stock and a little water (just enough to cover). While I was cooking the cauliflower I sautéed shrimp in a little bit of garlic and black pepper.

Once the cauliflower was soft, I transferred the cauliflower (in batches) to the Vitamix with a little of the cooking liquid, roasted garlic, and cheese. This allows the machine to puree the mixture easily into the smooth consistency. This was a quick and easy sauce to make. I served with fettucine and the sautéed shrimp.

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Monday Quinoa Burgers

Monday nights have become the day and time I go to yoga. Since this means I do not get home from yoga until 8 or so which means I prefer an extremely easy dinner this night. The easiest dinner is something that you can just heat up and that is exactly what these quinoa burgers are!

On Sunday I made the burgers completely. There is little prep really needed for this – just chopping the mushrooms and onions. I made a few substitutes to this recipe – I could not find red quinoa at the grocery store so I used tri-colored quinoa and instead of button mushrooms I use baby Portobello because they give this burger a little meatier taste. I baked the burgers and stored them in a plastic container for the next day. When I cam home all I had to do was re-heat the burgers on the stove top and served on a seeded bun. Can’t get any easier than that!

Tuesday – Outing

I already have plans for this night and would not be home for dinner, so no prep for dinner was needed.

Wednesday – Grilled Chicken, Asparagus, and Pilaf

Sometimes when I purchase large ‘family size’ packages of meats I break them down to smaller portions. There are times where I just wrap the smaller packages and pop them in the freezer for future use, or I will place them in freeze safe ziplock bags with a marinade so that all I need to do is defrost and cook. This means no Sunday prep was needed.

Tonight I am grilling up some honey soy chicken that I froze in the marinade in September. Even though the weather is still winter-is I am using a grill griddle to grill the chicken breasts indoors. I started the dinner by cooking this 7 grain pilaf. As the chicken was grilling I placed asparagus in a ziplock back with vegetable oil, black pepper, and minced garlic. Once the chicken was finished I put the asparagus on the grill just long enough until they are tender.

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Yes, tonight I am using a paper plate.

 

Thursday Slow Cooker Veal Stew

On Sunday I did all of the prep work I could for this meal – browned the veal, sautéed the onions and de-glazed the pan with the beef stock. I stored the meat in a ziplock bag and the sauce in a container.

This allowed me to dump everything in the crock pot the morning of and go. When I came home all I needed to do was cook 10 minute rice and serve the stew over.

I only planned my meals until Thursday since Friday is up in the air for plans so instead of prepping a meal I may or may not eat I have sufficient leftovers from the week to eat for dinner if I am home.

This may seem like a lot of work for a Sunday but it definitely allowes me to have an easier week.

 

 

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