You. Yes you. Busy person who wants to be more organized in planning your week. You want next week to be the week that you start to change habits a more organized life.
I know who you are. I talk to you every week in my online community, via email, or text. You really want to have a beautifully stocked fridge and freezer filled with meals and not just a mish mash of ingredients. But…. You just don’t have the time.
Here’s a secret. Most weeks, neither do I!
The amount of preparing I do is truly a spectrum. Some weekends I fill my freezer with dinner starters or instant pot ready dinners for weeks, or even the month, and some weeks, I am lucky to just write down 4 meals and get the groceries for them.
For the weeks that I just can’t do it all, I use these 5 strategies to make my week a little bit easier.
Plan just your priority meals.
For me, this is dinners. After working all day and coming home with a hungry kid and husband, we need a healthy dinner, on the table, FAST.
If you are just starting to develop this habit into your routine, picking priority meals might be a good place to start.
Ask yourself what would have the most impact on helping you get through the week….Is having dinner planned and made easy what keeps your busy weeknight sane? Is breakfast what you need to get your day started, and if you skip it, it impacts your eating for the entire day? Do you feel like you don’t have time to sit and eat a whole meal and you need to focus on healthy and hearty snacks?
Figure out where you need to dedicate your 1 hour on Sunday to set up the week for success and plan only that.
I use this free printable template
There is this misconceived notion that meal prep means having all meals fully prepped and oven ready. WRONG. Many times all I have time for is chopping and sorting what I buy at the grocery store.
Once your groceries are home, chop and organize things so you can see everything and it is all ready to go. It is a lot easier to whip up a weeknight stirfry if everything is already cut up and ready to go, or put together quick salads during the week.
Some weeks, this is all I can manage to fit in on Sunday, and you would be surprised at how much time this cuts out on those busy weeknights when you go to make dinner.
Get into Freezer Cooking
Prepping freezer meals in one afternoon, leaves you with meals ready to go an need zero prep on meal prep day. I rely on my freezer stock on the weekends I am short on time and can't dedicate more than and hour. I simply haul out some freezer goodies.
I often have these 10 things in my freezer that can be turned into 100's of different quick weeknight dinners.
Need more inspiration? Check out the Fill Your Freezer section of this blog!
Re-purpose leftovers for next day lunches so you don't need to prep extra meals.
I have found that I “re-purpose” food. It sounds totally silly but what this means is that I don’t really have to worry too much about planning my lunches in advance. Here are some of the easy ways I re purpose leftovers for lunches:
- Most meat based proteins and leftover veggies go into a mason jar for an instant soup the next day. This is ideal because for instant mason jar soups, the meats must already be cooked. More on mason jar soups here and my personal favourite here.
- Left over chicken is pretty much destined to added to spiralized mason jar salads… or just a plain old salad.
- Left over chicken gets mixed with plain Greek Yogurt and celery to become a mix for a chicken salad sandwich.
- If I do dinner with taco meat, there is a 100% chance that the next day I am eating a taco salad!
- Pretty much any leftover chicken or beef can be put into a tortilla with cheese and popped into the microwave as a quesadilla.
Batch prep quinoa (or one food you feel is super versatile) and be amazed at how many different recipes you can come up with during the week.
It is rare that I go a week without making a big batch of quinoa.
2 years ago I didn’t know what it was or how to pronounce it (FYI - it is KEEN-WAH). Now, I eat it all the time! This is probably one of the most versatile foods on the planet, in my opinion. Once it is cooked and in your fridge, you can whip up a meal pretty quick and if you don’t use it all up it freezes well.
I could go on for days for what I use quinoa for, but here are my go to things:
- Add it to eggs at breakfast to make breakfast bowls
- Add it to pretty much any salad at lunch.
- Use it as the base of a side dish for dinners such as quinoa fried "rice", Roasted Garlic Parm Quinoa, Quinoa Asparagus with Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette.
- Use it as a base in a skillet dish such as Easy Quinoa Pizza Bowls, One Pan Cheesy Broccoli & Quinoa, and One Pan Mexican Quinoa.
- I have also been known to crust chicken with it to give it that fried chicken feel.
Meal prepping and planning is essential for my week to be organized and healthy. Some weeks I have time to do all 5 of these things, but sometimes I am lucky to get one. Even when I can only get an hour to do one of these things, my week goes just a little bit smoother! Remember – it’s not all or nothing. So, if you are looking to start this habit, next Sunday, take an hour and one of these tips and give it a try.
There you have it, 5 ways to simplify weekly meal prep to 1 hour!
Interested in reading more tips and tricks to meal prep and planning? You might like some of my other posts:
- 4 Simple Ways to Start Meal Prep and Planning
- How To Transition Your Family to Healthy Meal Planning
- 3 Ways I Meal Prepped Myself Skinny... NO ! Happy.
Or, come join the Confessions of a Meal Plan Addict online community!