Hello everyone! I know this is a super different post than what I normally share on here, but I have had a lot of friends and family ask me if I have any organizing tips regarding food. The best way to stay organized regarding food is MEAL PREP!
So what HAVE I been doing as far as meal prep goes??
Well, I haven’t really had a meal plan in action since recently. I KNOW. SHOCKER. The most organized OCD lady doesn’t have an organized meal plan for her family??? nope. And I hated going through the day being so busy until I realized it was 5 o clock and I had no idea of what I was going to make (or had any food for that matter). Half of the time I was able to be creative and come up with something, the other times it was yucky processed food that just “got the job done.” Which then I would feel guilty for the rest of the night because I just fed my family CRAP.
I wasn’t raised in a home where cooking was “fun” or was a regular thing for that matter. (I still love you mom!) She was not a fan of cooking, (which is weird because she is a really good cook!) and we ate out a lot; so I pretty much grew up not being fond of cooking either! Which I found was mostly because I didn’t know HOW to cook! There has been a lot of learning and researching on how to not only feed my family and have the food taste good, but also have it be HEALTHIER at the same time!
Some of my other family members think I am kinda crazy when it comes to food- I am one of THOSE parents who makes their kids share a cupcake at a birthday party or hides veggies in their breakfast muffins. And I know I am that way because between my husband and I’s family we pretty much have everything going for my kids health wise (in a bad way!) Diabetes, heart problems, vision issues, high blood pressure and cholesterol- you name it, we have it. And it TERRIFIES me that my kids (and my husband and I) will grow up and get it too. YES, there is still a chance they will get these things even if they eat healthy- but if I can help in ANY way… I WILL! So eating healthy it is!!!!
I have searched high and low on the internet and through all my cookbooks and came up with a good selection of dinners that I know or think my family would enjoy! I tried to have them be as healthy as possible (although my list isn’t perfect) but easy to make at the same time. I am sure some of you can even improve it more than I did. I tried to find as many recipes as I could that I didn’t use any “cream of….” and that were not processed. Doing whole wheat pitas instead of white, or corn tortillas instead of flour, gluten free noodles or whole wheat instead of regular; adding veggies in everything, and on and on and on…… are ways to adjust this to fit your health needs too. (That is what I do when I feed my family from these meals!)
Some meals are gluten free, and some are vegetarian (and some are both!) My vegetarian sister lives with us, so I try to accommodate a few meals that are 100% meat free; others I try to make it easy for her to have a vegetarian option. I have a little variety of meats in the meals, but most of them are chicken. We do not eat a bunch of red meat- we eat some; but not a lot. So keep that in mind when looking at the meal plan. (It is easy to switch out the meat and change it on your grocery shopping list! Do BBQ shredded pork sandwiches instead of chicken for example)
I made a calendar of 6 WEEKS. My idea behind this, is that once it is all set up, I can rotate through these six weeks over and over. So after week six is done, I will go back to week one.
After creating the calendar, I then made a grocery shopping list for each week. (see below- these will be free for you to use!)
I made sure that I left plenty of blank spots so that throughout the week I can add things that we run out of. I print out all six grocery shopping lists at a time, and then clip them on my clip board that stays on the side of the fridge. Right before I go to the store, I do a quick 5 minute walk through of the pantry and fridge and cross off what items I already have in the house so that I don’t buy things I don’t need. Then once I go grocery shopping, I take the clipboard with me, and put it back when I am done!
I can throw away that weeks grocery shopping list after that- but not before I put the meals on my meal planner; so that I know what I am making with all these food items for the week. Then as we run out of items during the week, I add it to the following weeks list. (does that make sense?) I knw it sounds confusing- but I swear it is so easy!!!
BRING ON THE GOOD STUFF:
**I am going to be slowly adding all the recipes- so if the links don’t work (especially for the grocery shopping lists) I haven’t gotten to all of them yet. so reference back soon!
- Cajun Sweet Potato Burgers (with salad) by Wildtree
- Crockpot Chicken Tacos (with black beans) by Chocolate Therapy
- Teriyaki Chicken (with veggies) by Who needs a cape
- Thai chicken crockpot by fit2fat2fit
- Queenie’s Spaghetti (with salad) by (my lovely mom) by Ooh Lah Lah Designs
- Crockpot Veggie Chili with Sweet Potatoes by Real Simple
- BBQ rotisserie chicken pita pizzas by Bon Appetit (I add mushrooms to it!)
- Tortilla Taco Salad by Oohlahlahdesigns (these leftovers make great tacos for lunch the next day!)
- Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken (with veggies) by new leaf wellness (freezer meal!)
- Sweet Potato black bean enchiladas (with salad) by gluten free goddess
- Sausage Pasta with Broccoli Rabe by Oohlahlahdesigns
- Crockpot Mexican chili with cornbread topping (with salad) by new leaf wellness (freezer meal!)
- Black bean burgers (with sweet potato fries) by Wildtree
- Dorito Taco Salad (I use Italian/ ranch dressing and let people add their dressing to their own)
- Tater Tot chicken pot pie (with salad) by New Leaf Wellness
- Crockpot Fajitas by Stacy Makes Cents
- Pizzadillas by Wildtree
- Tortellini Crockpot Soup by Ooh Lah Lah Designs
- Super Sloppy Joes (with salad) by Thriving Home
- Chipotle lime beer tacos (with rice and black beans) by Wildtree
- Lazy day stew (with bread) (this recipe is doubled)
- Thai turkey Skillet by fit2fat2fit
- Sweet potato noodles (with asparagus) by Wildtree
- Balsalmic chicken with pear (with salad) by Ziplist
- Baked Potato Bar (with salad) by Moneywise Moms
- Grilled Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas (with black beans and rice) by Real Simple
- Skinny Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (with salad) by Damn Delicious
- Sweet potato kale pizza (with salad) by Two Peas and Their Pod
- Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake by Two Peas and Their Pod
- Honey Glazed Salmon (with rice/quinoa and any left over veggie) by Damn Delicious
- Creamy chicken soup by The Cookie Rookie
- Skinny alfredo (skinny!) (with veggies) by Carlsbad Cravings
- BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches (with salad) from Skinny Mom (it asks for pork- we use chicken)
- Sweet Potato white bean chili by Gluten Free Goddess
- Crockpot Italian chicken (with salad) by rachelschultz
- Asian lemon chicken tenders (with veggies and salad) by Damn Delicious
** Here are a few things I have learned with doing a meal plan…
1. I will go to Costco and buy items in bulk that I know I use a lot, usually at the beginning of the cycle and in the middle of the cycle (if needed). (onions, sweet potatoes, lettuce (for salads), bell peppers, hamburger meat and chicken). This saves time and money because I use these items so much that it is worth it for me to buy them in bulk. Then each week I just mark them off my list when it is time to go shopping. Most of these will last you a while, and it will save you money at the same time!
2. I keep chopped salad and toppings in my salad spinner in the fridge. It keeps the salad fresh for days- and I can just set it out on the table and the salad is ready to eat!
3. If you buy your meat in bulk, it is easy to hurry and cook all the meat (either on the stove with an onion, or in the crock pot all day with an onion) and then separate portions into freezer bags and place them in the freezer. That way cooking time is reduced when it comes time to preparing the meal with the meat.
4. I also like to buy chicken thighs for my chicken. They are usually cheaper than the breasts and they are juicier- not as dry as chicken breasts tend be (especially in crock pots!)
5. I only have six meals in each week for two reasons: (1)Sometimes you cant keep up on leftovers, and we will have a “leftover” meal night where we take all the leftovers and have the “buffet” style, and (2) my husband and I have weekly date night- so I don’t cook on that night 🙂
6. STICK TO YOUR LIST ONLY! I know this can be hard for me- especially if I go to the store hungry!! but it will save your budget. I promise!!
7. There are a lot of meals on here that you can turn into “freezer” meals. If you have the time, you can double the recipe and while you are making dinner for the day, add all the ingredients into a freezer bag and save it for another day! (or for someone who just had a baby and you need to bring a meal!) trust me. you will be glad you did it 🙂
8. I got some of these meals off of the Wild Tree website. They do sell their own seasonings which are all organic. And their seasonings are on my grocery shopping list. They are great, but you could maybe find things similar at a place like Whole foods. (Maybe even walmart- I have not gone and actually checked on that though!)
9. You can save everything!! Don’t waste your money!! Have ripe bananas? make some no bake cookies, or freeze them without the peel and save them for a smoothie! Rotisserie chicken left over? Hurry and take the meet off and put it in a freezer bag as well and save them for a crock pot meal that asks for chicken! I also will cut and peel fruit and veggies and place them in the freezer as well! you can even freeze spinach!! Super yummy for smoothies!!
10. Leftovers are great lunches!! I always pack my husband a lunch with leftovers each night before I put the rest of it away. It saves money, and it doesn’t waste food! (I eat leftovers at home too!)
11. I add veggies to everything. Even in things you wouldn’t think should have veggies in them. I usually chop or finely shred veggies in the food and the kids cant even tell they are in them 🙂 I will try to mention when I do this in the recipes 🙂
***NEED IDEAS FOR OTHER MEALTIMES DURING THE DAY?? (you can add some of these to your main grocery shopping list!)
OR HOW ABOUT TODDLER MEAL IDEAS??
WELP 🙂 THATS MY MEAL PLAN.