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Meal Prep Monday {9.9.19}

 Each Monday I share a weekly menu plan and what I’m prepping for the week. I plan 4 dinners a week, we have 2 leftover/Fridge clean out nights, and we make Take ‘n Bake pizzas on Saturday nights. My kids take lunch to school 5 days a week. You can read more about my meal planning and prep HERE. Please feel free to share with anyone you know who needs some dinner or lunch inspiration and don’t forget to pin on Pinterest for later! 

Dinner #1:

Korean Beef Sloppy Joe’s, Loaded Potato Slices, Parmesan Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Dinner #2:

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Squash & Zucchini Saute, Jasmine Rice

Dinner #3:

Garlic Herb Roasted Pork Loin, Sweet Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli

Dinner #4:

Maple Crusted Salmon, Yellow Rice, Butter Garlic Green Beans

 

Each week I prep all the produce and fruits ahead of time for the week. I also stock the lunch prep fridge and pantry for the kids’ lunches. I have specific containers that I use for food prep that are designed to maximize the life of the produce which helps when I only shop once a week. You can read more about my process and see pictures of my fridges HERE

This week for the meal produce I transferred the fresh Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Squash and Zucchini to the veggie containers. For fruit I prepped strawberries, blueberries, pears, plums, red grapes, red and green apples, and clementines. I added baby carrots, cut celery, sliced bell peppers, and mini cucumbers as well for lunches.

This week I prepped a large container of spaghetti, a large container of macaroni & cheese with turkey dogs cut up, a large container of Big Mac Sloppy Joe meat, a large container of Italian pasta salad, a large container of tossed salad, 24 mini egg quiche muffins, and 36 Bacon cheeseburger puffs. The kids eat these as snacks, for lunches, and on leftover/clean out the fridge nights.



Meal Planning & Prepping 101

A few months ago I reached the breaking point when it came to the food in our house. I was tired of the same old dinners, tired of the amount of junk my kids were eating, and tired of fighting the picky eater battles. So I started to brainstorm ways to simplify not only what we were eating each week but also how much money I was spending on food. That’s how Meal Prep Monday was born.

I started out doing my meal prep on Sunday’s and that worked great during the summer. But with football season coming up and the kids being back in school and sports, I needed to revamp things a bit. I do shopping on one day during the week, I prep produce and fruits on one day and I still do main meal and lunch prep on Sunday mornings. It’s been a couple of weeks now and it’s working for me. I have a lot of friends in my real life and on social media who have been asking me to share in more detail how I do my prep. They are really the reason the blog has made a comeback! I also plan to share a lot of the new recipes that I’ve been making as well as some more in-depth posts about meal and lunch prepping.

Some notes about the way I meal plan and prep:

  • I do my weekly shopping at ALDI and Walmart. I also do a trip to Costco every other week and Sam’s Club once a month. 
  • My grocery budget for ALDI and Walmart is $125-$150 a week. I budget another $200 for Costco and Sam’s Club. My budget covers all food, household, and pet items.
  • We only eat out on special occasions. I cook 4 dinners a week, we have leftovers/Fridge clean out nights twice a week, and we make Take ‘n Bake pizzas every Saturday night. My 3 kids who are still in school take lunches 5 days a week and my oldest takes his lunch to work every day. 
  • I use only fresh vegetables and I try to use mostly fresh meats. The salmon and tilapia are always frozen because that’s what fits in my budget. 
  • I tend to stick to in-season fruits and vegetables because they are cheaper. 
  • I utilize my Crockpot and my Instant Pot for nights when we have extracurriculars or sports so we’re not tempted to eat out. 
  • It typically takes me about 30 minutes to do lunch prep and about 2 hours to do my Sunday meal prep. When I take into account how much time it saves me each weeknight, it’s well worth the time investment. 
  • I purchased fruit and vegetable prep containers that help preserve the food so it lasts all week. I’ll share specifics on them soon. Pro Tip: they’re worth every penny.
  • I plan my dinners on Wednesday’s when the sale circulars come out for ALDI and Walmart. I try to always plan dinners around what meat and vegetables are on sale that week. 
  • I typically don’t buy convenience foods such as hot pockets, pizza rolls, chicken nuggets, or bagel bites. Occasionally I will pick up a pack of frozen cheese pizzas when they go on sale at Costco. 

I’m excited to share more about how I meal plan, meal prep, and lunch prep. I’ll give you a peek into my fridges and my pantry and share info on the apps and products that make it so easy for me to accomplish all of this on a weekly basis. Next week I’ll be sharing the exact method I use to do my weekly meal plans. 

 



Meal Prep Monday {9.2.19}

Each Monday I plan to share a weekly menu plan and what I’m prepping for the week. I plan 4 dinners a week, we have 2 leftover/Fridge clean out nights, and we make Take ‘n Bake pizzas on Saturday nights. My kids take lunch to school 5 days a week. Please feel free to share with anyone you know who needs some dinner or lunch inspiration and don’t forget to pin on Pinterest for later! 

Dinner #1:

Mozzarella, Pesto & Tomato Chicken Breasts, Baked Potatoes, Brown Sugar Carrots

Dinner #2:

Roasted Pork Loin, Jasmine Rice, Roasted Broccoli

Dinner #3:

Cheesy Crusted Salmon, Yellow Rice, Butter Garlic Green Beans

Dinner #4:

BBQ Popcorn Chicken, Loaded Baked Potato Slices, Parmesan Corn on Cob

 

Each week I prep all the produce and fruits ahead of time for the week. I also stock the lunch prep fridge and pantry for the kids’ lunches. I’ll have some posts dedicated entirely to how I do this each week coming soon. I have specific containers that I use for food prep that are designed to maximize the life of the produce which helps when I only shop once a week. 

This week for the meal produce I transferred the fresh broccoli, carrots, green beans, and corn on the cob to the veggie containers. For fruit I diced cantaloupe and watermelon and put them in containers. I also prepped strawberries, blueberries, red grapes, clementines, and plums. I added baby carrots, cut celery, and mini cucumbers as well for lunches. Here’s a peek into my fridge after I do a typical produce and vegetable prep.

At the end of the school year I made the decision to no longer buy convenience foods for lunches for the kids. No more pizza rolls, hot pockets, chicken nuggets, etc. Not only are they super expensive when your kids eat as much as mine do but they’re just unhealthy. Instead I started prepping actual meals  for the kids to eat during the week. It’s working much better. The kids made their lunches all summer and now that school has started they can easily choose what they’d like to take for lunch each day. I prep their thermoses if needed in the morning while they get ready for school. 

This week I prepped a large container of spaghetti, a large container of macaroni & cheese with turkey dogs cut up, a large container of taco meat, a large container of Greek pasta salad, a large container of tossed salad, 24 mini egg quiche muffins, and 24 mini pancake muffins. The kids eat these as snacks, for lunches, and on leftover/clean out the fridge nights. This is how my fridge generally looks after I finish doing the lunch prep. I should also note that I have 2 fridge/freezers in the garage. One is dedicated solely to lunch prep and the other is for overflow and meats. 

Over the next couple of months I’ll be sharing a lot more about my meal and lunch prep process as well as a lot of posts about family organization, favorite products, family routines, and more. Follow along on Bloglovin’ or sign up to receive posts via email —>



Instant Pot Meatball Marinara Pasta

My kids are huge pasta fans and they would happily eat pasta 7 nights a week if I would make it. But my husband gets bored with the same old pasta dinner. I have to mix it up. Spaghetti every night won’t fly around here. I try to use different meats and different flavor sauces to add some variety. One of our favorites is meatballs! I buy the huge 5lb bag of frozen meatballs from Sam’s Club and we get 3 dinners out of that when I make pasta. 

Ingredients:
1 bag frozen meatballs
3 cups water
1 box penne pasta
2 jars pasta sauce

Directions:
1. Lay meatballs in bottom of Instant Pot.
2. Pour water over top.
3. Add dry pasta.
4. Pour pasta sauce over top.
5. Seal lid and set to manual high pressure for 7 minutes.
6. When done, use quick release.
7. Serve topped with cheese.

This was super fast and easy to make on a busy night and the kids loved it. Everyone had second helpings and asked when I was going to make it again! I love dump and go meals with my instant pot- they definitely save my sanity during the week when I have very little time to prep. This one is a keeper!

 



Easy Instant Pot Taco Pasta

My family pretty much loves anything that involves tacos and pasta so combining the two is a no-brainer for dinner success! The kids loved this dinner and I loved that making it in the Instant Pot means I only have to clean one dish!

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1 pkt taco seasoning
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1/4 cup water
1 lb pasta noodles
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

Directions:
1. Saute ground beef in Instant Pot until cooked.
2. Add taco seasoning, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and beef broth; stir.
3. Add dry pasta and water.
4. Seal lid and set to manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
5. When done, use quick release.
6. Add cheese and stir; allow to melt.

This one was an absolute winner in my house! I’ve made it several times and we never have leftovers! I’ve added it to my regular meal rotation.