Tag Archives: planning menus

Mealprep: 40 recipes to stock your freezer and free your mind!

Tacos-1

One of the best ways to eat healthy is to eat at home more. But for any busy person, this becomes a real challenge when it’s 4:30 and you have no idea what to make for dinner. Prepping some ingredients and/or dishes ahead of time to stash in the freezer can save the day. Not only does it save you cooking time, it also saves you brain effort at the very time of day your brain is most overtaxed!

Sure, these mean a little more work on the weekend — but you can do it at a leisurely pace, when you’re rested and not rushed. Which I’ve found makes cooking so much more enjoyable!

NOTE: not all of these are real food/Paleo/Whole30.

Mealprep: taco kit from The Kitchn
A week of dinners in the freezer, from The Kitchn. Recipes for: Baked Manicotti – Freezer Taco Kits – Twice-Baked Potatoes – Chile & Sausage Oven Frittata – Cranberry Pork Chops – Chicken and Wild Rice Bake. (Also includes side dishes, not listed here.) You can also find this same list of recipes with additional notes on how to turn prep day into a Freezer Meals Party.
Mealprep: stocking the freezer

Here are tips for stocking your freezer with precooked and seasoned meats, which gives you more versatility than already-assembled dishes. Includes instructions (but not exact recipes) for twice-baked potatoes, two different ground beef mixes, a teriyaki marinade that you can use on any meat, poultry or seafood (lots of sugar in it, though), and shredded chicken plus broth. Also has a few nifty tricks for neater packaging.

ingredient prep, + why i like it better than meal prep

For the past several months, I’ve gotten into the habit of ingredient prep. This works really well for me! It’s less labor-intensive on the front end, and more flexible at go-time! (I was originally inspired by this post by Mel Joulwan at Well Fed.)

Mealprep from Pioneer Woman

Here’s Pioneer Woman’s freezer cooking post. Not a lot of healthy stuff on the list, but I do love her tip for grilling whole chicken breasts and freezing them to have on hand for dozens of uses. I count about 11 main-dish recipes on her list, skipping the carb-laden ones.

Mealprep: chicken breasts
I also like this method for an easy way to cook boneless, skinless chicken breasts, from Small Home Big Start.
Mealprep from New Leaf Wellness

Eight healthy freezer crockpot meals in 75 minutes, from New Leaf Wellness. Well, really four different meals, double batch of each. Beef Roast and Carrots – Chicken Fajitas – Mexican Chicken Soup – Garden Veggie Soup with Ground Beef.

Mealprep shopping lists

10 meals in 1 hour – super organized and detailed; even includes shopping list! Really just five recipes; double batch of each. Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken –  London Broil – Quick Taco Soup – Orange Glazed Pork Chops – Creamy Italian Chicken

Mealprep - more shopping lists

10 meals in 1 hour, take 2; the no-bake version; includes five warm weather recipes that are cooked either on the grill or in the crockpot—no oven required!

More about the method…

Here are a couple resources that aren’t recipe lists, but more of a how-to go about mealprep and make it work for you.

From Mealime: Meal Planning: The Definitive Guide to Planning Your Meals Stress-Free. This is an exhaustive collection with tons of tips — how to plan, how to shop, how to cook, etc.

Mealprep - the non-planned approach

A planned/non-planned approach. No recipes here, but some pointers for stocking your freezer with ready-to-go meat and cheese portions, then how to plan meals the weekend or night before, taking into account your schedule, the weather, and what’s in your fridge that needs to be used up.

 

And here are a few ingredients to have pre-cooked and ready in the freezer:

And a few things to know about food safety and quality:
Mealprep: freezer recipes

Three weeks of week-night menus

3-week-menu
Note: These days, I use my sort-of meal plan (explained in my ebook “The meal plan for people who hate to meal plan“), but in a different season of life, this three-week plan was a life-saver.
When my kids were still living at home and evenings were crazy-busy, I used a three-week rotation to save me the trouble of having to figure out day-by-day what we were having for dinner. And I created a grocery list for each week that I kept on the computer. I resisted this level of planning for a long time (I’m an artist, man!), but once I started using it, it freed up SO much brain-space and simplified life so much, I loved it.

Here’s kinda what three weeks looked like for us, but for you, I’ve chosen recipes that are less carb-heavy than what we were eating when our kids were small, and dishes that I think most people would like.

(Later note: they pre-date my Paleo days, so they’re not all wheat-, sugar-, or dairy-free. But they are pretty whole-food focused.)

A few notes to make it easier:

Every Monday is a salmon dish; I try to eat salmon at least once a week for health reasons. I like to do it on Monday, because I’m usually not on top of things most Mondays, I always keep individual portions of salmon in the freezer, and it cooks in 10 minutes! If fish on Friday is part of your routine, feel free to switch it up.

Every Tuesday, you make extra chicken to be used later in the week.

Once you’ve tested these recipes and decided which are keepers, you can make up the seasoning mixes in bulk to streamline that part of weeknight cooking.

Note that some recipes can have part of the prep work done the night before, or earlier in the day, to further simplify your evening prep time.

Many of my recipes incorporate vegetables so I don’t have to make a side dish, but for those that do need one, my side dish usually consists of this: pulling a bag of frozen vegetables (green beans, cauliflower, mixed veggies) or pre-sliced carrots out of the fridge, steaming them, and adding some butter and salt. Other possible additions: cheese, for broccoli or cauliflower; pine-nuts, almonds or pecans for green beans; orange marmalade or cinnamon for carrots.

Week 1:

paleo whole30 real food main dishes, entrees, meat

Tues: Super easy shredded chicken tacos  (start early; uses a slow-cooker. make extra for tomorrow’s salad)

Wed: Tex-Mex salad 

Thurs: 10-Minute French dip (Or freezer burritos. Gluten-free option included.)

Fri: Asian lettuce wraps

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Week 2:

Almost-Panera's Asian Chicken Salad

Mon: Ancho-crusted salmon (Substitute an off-the-shelf BBQ dry rub if you don’t want to make your own. But I highly recommend this one!)

Tues: Honey-mustard grilled chicken * (make extra for tomorrow’s salad)

Wed: Almost-Panera’s Asian salad

Thurs: Chipotle pork tacos

Fri: Salsa verde chicken

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Week 3:

curry-chicken-salad-be2-500

Mon: Herb-crusted salmon

Tues: Easy roasted chicken breasts (make extra for tomorrow’s and Friday’s salad)

Wed: Caesar salad with leftover chicken; here’s a recipe for easy homemade Caesar dressing without raw or coddled eggs.

Thurs: Herb-roasted pork tenderloin

Fri: Orange-cranberry chicken salad

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For Fall and Winter meals, I would substitute the following soups for the Wednesday night salads:

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*These recipes have not been tested by me, but they’re highly rated on AllRecipes.com.