Cook 1 day for meals for 5. Yes, this can save your life!
Meal prepping basically saved my life. It made lunch a no brainer, and dinner became so easy! Which was essential since I work late on Monday and Tuesday. I mean, who wants to come home at 8 pm after working all day and spend another hour cooking dinner? Not me, that is for sure. And I would consider myself to be a foodie, who loves cooking more than most people. But meal prepping doesn’t mean that you have to eat the same thing all week just because you decide to cook 1 day.
Why cook 1 day?
I hear from my clients all the time is “Klara, I will totally meal prep, but I don’t want to eat the same thing all week” Okay fair, I hear you! But! Meal prepping doesn’t mean that you have to eat the same boring dishes all week. It just means that we have a little more room to get creative.
What I came up with is a full week of meals, all of which can be most cooked ahead (I picked Sunday), and can be assembled in less than 30 minutes when it is time to eat. And they are completely different meals, so you wont feel like you are eating the same thing all week!
Seriously, how much easier can it get than cook 1 day?
These meals are enough to feed 4 people for dinner (or 2 people for dinner one night, and lunch the next day). And I am going to take you step by step in how to do it!
So, what is on the menu? Check it out!
Sunday is the cook 1 day
This is my big meal prep day. I devote a little bit of time on a Sunday to get everything organized, because it makes a big difference during the week. Here is my to do list for this week of recipes:
- Roast the whole chicken. We are going to use this chicken for two different meals, the roasted chicken with greek style roasted cauliflower and the parmesan chicken paninis. Buying a whole chicken is very budget friendly, and is so versatile! If you don’t want to roast the whole chicken, you can also buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.
- Throw all the ingredients for the chili in the slow cooker, turn it on low and forget about it! Well okay, don’t forget about it totally, but just for 8 hours or so.
- Make the pizza dough. I love using the dough setting on my bread maker for this, but you can use a stand mixer, or just do it by hand! Also, feel free to buy dough from the grocery store, that works just as well.
- Chop and roast the cauliflower. This will make putting dinner together easy later this week, all you will have to do is heat it up.
- Cook the spinach, chop it up, and stick it in the fridge for later this week.
- Mix the ricotta cheese mixture together, put in the fridge for later this week.
- While the chicken and cauliflower are cooking, combine 2 cups of brown rice with 4 cups of water (or chicken stock) and cook until rice is tender. We are going to serve half of this rice with the chicken and cauliflower and use the other half in a round 2 meal.
It might seem like a lot, but really, you can do many of these things at the same time! Put the chicken in the oven first. Then, throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker, and take care of your pizza dough. Finally, get the cauliflower ready to roast and throw the rice on the stove.
Tonight for dinner, we are having roasted chicken with brown rice and roasted Greek style cauliflower. All components of this meal were made yesterday, so really all we have to do is reheat everything. My trick for reheating the rice? Take half of the rice (remember, save the other half for the fried rice later this week) and splash a little water on it, and cover the container with a wet paper towel. Place in the microwave for 2 minutes, or until rice is heated through.
Photo credit Klara Knezevic Roasted Chicken with Greek Style Cauliflower
I served the dark meat of the chicken for this meal. Cut the legs and thighs off of the chicken, and serve with the roasted veggies and the rice.
Tonight, is chili night! Also, all we have to do is reheat the chili and we are ready to go. A lot of chili recipes make a lot of portions, so you are stuck eating chili all week so that the food doesn’t go bad. This recipe only makes 4-5 servings, so it is scaled down, and you wont be stuck with all the leftovers Top the chili as desired and serve with a side salad or vegetable of your choice. You can also totally double this recipe and put the other half in the freezer (it makes an easy dinner when you are short on time, forgot to meal prep, or maybe didn’t make it to the grocery store).
Photo credit Klara Knezevic Slow Cooker Beef Chili
I think we tend to think of sandwiches as more of a lunch food, but they can definitely be used for dinner. They are quick to put together, delicious, and when you serve with a side of veggies, a balanced meal! These chicken parmesan paninis give you the flavor of the classic chicken parmesan, without all the work! And using the leftover chicken from earlier this week makes this dinner done in a flash.
Chicken Parmesan Paninis
Tip: You can assemble these paninis ahead of time! Just leave out the marinara (it will make the bread soggy) when assembling them, and put them in the fridge. When ready to serve, add the marinara to one slice of bread.
I pressed my paninis in a George Foreman grill, but you can easily do these sandwiches on the stove or in the oven (just preheat to 350F, and bake until ingredients are heated through and cheese is melted).
Tonight, also make sure to take the shrimp out of the freezer, and into the fridge for tomorrow’s dish. This will make things easy!
Asian inspired dishes are always quick to put together. Sure, you could order a shrimp fried rice, but why not make it yourself? When making dishes like this at home, you can make substitutions like using brown rice instead of white rice if desired. You can also add more veggies to the dish! By pulling the shrimp out over night, they are ready to go when you need them. You can buy pre-peeled shrimp, which will save you some time.
You will be shocked how quickly this recipe comes together. Having frozen veggies on hand makes it easier. My secret to good fried rice and stir fry? Make sure your pan is very hot!
Tonight, take the pizza dough out of the freezer and place it in the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner.
Pizza night! Homemade Spinach and Pesto Naan Pizza is so easy to make and also delicious. By using store bought naan, you cut down your prep by a few hours. Again, feel free to use store bought dough. Dough works best when it is allowed to come up to room temperature, but if you are in a hurry, you can use it straight out of the fridge.
There you have it! 5 different meals, that were thrown together in under 30 minutes, just by meal prepping one day. Do you have favorite meal prep recipes? Let us know in the comments below! If you would like help learning how to meal prep and reach your nutrition goals, click here or call 301-474-2499.
Whether you are a novice in the kitchen, or a seasoned chef, Dietitian Klara will work with you to help you reach your nutrition goals. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating, Cooking with Diabetes and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Guide.