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.
Usually 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.
I 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!
Last 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!
This Sunday I’m prepping snacks. This time I’m using oats in these dark chocolate mocha energy 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.
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
Sunday 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.
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.
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.