Prepping veggies for the week helps to save my sanity and time on a busy weeknight. During the weekend, I work in meal planning while our children are napping. During this time I plan out our weekly menu and work on preparations that will shorten preparation and cooking time during the week.
Most of our weekly meals are dinner bowls, comprising of a protein, a veggie, a grain or starch, and a leafy green. Looking ahead into the dinner bowls, I look for meals needing roasted veggies and pre-roast them.
I roast all vegetables at 425 degrees in my convection oven. I toss individual vegetables gently with olive oil, and a steak seasoning blend before placing them neatly on a baking sheet.
Cooking times do vary for individual vegetable and it helps to have more than one cooking tray to maximize preparation time.
-halved small red potatoes 30-35 minutes
-sliced onions 20 minutes
-quartered carrots 20-25 minutes
-sweet peppers 20-25 minutes
-halved brussel sprouts 25 minutes
-i inch cubed sweet potatoes or butternut squash 20-25 minutes
-kale 10 minutes, stir occasionally
After each vegetable has cooled, I package them separately in air tight containers for the week. To reheat vegetables for dinner bowls, I throw them in the oven long enough to warm throughout and to remove added moisture from the fridge.
New Year, new recipes! The beginning of the month is my favorite because it gives me a chance to plan new recipes for our family. With our busy work and daycare schedules, I find it easiest to plan at least 2 weeks worth of recipe ideas for dinner in advance. I write down our nightly meal on a large dry erase wall calendar in our kitchen, this helps me know what ingredients to get out in advance.
After I decide on some recipes, I hit the sales ads in the grocery store to match recipes. I also analyze what we already have on hand in the pantry, and think ahead to ingredients we might run out of in the near future. We then make a grocery list and head to the store.
Every month, we buy a large bag of chicken (10 lbs), this makes between 7-9 meals for our family of 4 for the month. We supplement the non-chicken meals with meatless Mondays or pasta nights. In addition, we have breakfast for dinner night, and of course leftovers for dinner. Luckily for us this month, we happen to have a gift card to our local favorite, Blue Sky Cafe.
Here is our menu plan for January:
BBQ pork in the crockpot, the port roast was on sale
Crockpot Chilli with 1 Lb of ground beef and 1-2 cans of beans
Vegetable beef stew in the crockpot
Indian chicken and rice, we will have this 2 times. Once will be Tikka Masala and the other will be Korma Curry.
Gluten Free Spaghetti with homemade sauce
Sweet asian bbq chicken
Chicken tacos in crockpot
Pork chops with veggies
Taco chicken with avocado corn salsa and rice
Polynesian beef stew
Winter minestrone soup with gluten free noodles
Cuban chicken black bean bowls
Spicy shrimp bowl
Garlic shrimp ravioli
Moroccan chickpea stew
Meal prep marinade bags are the easiest way to create flavorful and quick weeknight dinners. In our pantry and fridge I keep some of my favorite marinades and dressings for easy, throw together, last minute meals that taste amazing.
After a big shopping trip, I put together our monthly chicken marinade bags in a painless 30 minutes. I begin by selecting the store bought marinades and sauces or creating our favorite homemade chicken marinade.
These marinade packs are not complete meals, we supplement the protein in a salad, a dinner bowl, a pasta dish, or with a side of vegetables. In our family of four, we cut our grocery budget by serving protein as a portion of an entree, rather than the entree itself.
Each marinade pack, contains 1-2 chicken breasts depending on the meal and the recipe along with the marinade. I do not add vegetables or other ingredients to these bags, I add fresh ingredients on the day I make each recipe.
In our weekly menu planning, I select specific days for marinade packs. These days are generally times when I know we have after school meetings or will be getting home late. I also pull out marinade packs when I am needed by the kiddos, and I will not have time to spend in the kitchen. The chicken tastes best when pulled from the freezer a day in advance, so the marinade can sink into the chicken for added flavor. I have also pulled these straight from the freezer and into the oven.
Bags can be kept in the freezer 1-2 months to retain flavor quality. For best flavor, transfer from the freezer to the fridge 24 hours prior to the start of cooking time.
Some of our favorite marinades:
HT traders simmer sauces