I love food. But wow, do I dislike making it. Anybody else? I’ve often said that if I won the lottery, I would spend it all hiring a chef to make healthy meals for me for the rest of my life. Wouldn’t that be glorious?!
Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the likelihood of that happening is minuscule, particularly because the only time I’ve bought a lottery ticket was on my 18th birthday. So I’ve been working on my meal making over the years to make the process as efficient as possible. This is the meal planning method I’ve used to get me through feeding myself and my family amidst working, grad school, 12-hour night shifts, and the regular craziness of life. All while spending as little time cooking and prepping as possible.
First, let’s tackle breakfast.
I typically eat the same thing for breakfast every day. I acknowledge it is a bit odd, but I love it, and it makes my mornings so easy!
Yogurt with berries and topped with muesli and a generous side of coffee.
But breakfast can be absolutely anything you want.
Before I had children, I had some extra time on my hands, and I would pre-make breakfast sandwiches. That was delicious.
Whatever you choose, I’d pick something EASY you can throw together quickly. Bonus points if you can safely eat it in the car!
We’re going to skip lunch temporarily and move onto dinner. That’ll make more sense in a few.
I prep just one thing each week. And that’s salad.
I buy some romaine lettuce heads, some colorful bell peppers, a cucumber, and carrots. Chop those up and put them in a big Tupperware with a dry paper towel on top. The paper towel absorbs any extra liquid and keeps your salad fresh all week. It’s magic. And it’s your pre-made vegetable for nights when you don’t have time or energy to make one.
Now for the entrees.
Each week I pick 2-3 main meals to make for dinner. I choose them from a binder of around ten different meals I make in general and pick 2-3. If you know more recipes, you or your family will be much less bored, but if you don’t, I promise it will be just fine. We’ve lived off of 10 meals for years.
Now that I have my three meals, I make sure they are large enough to feed the whole family/group 2-3 times. Because leftovers are lifesavers. When you make the meal, you eat one serving, FREEZE the second, and put the third in individual pre-portioned containers.
I cook these meals on nights when I know I will have some time or even during the middle of the weekend, so it’s done. But usually, on a night, I know I’ll be home at a reasonable time and will be able to dedicate the time to cooking.
So that’s three dinners done—4 to go. One night is always frozen pizza and some of the salad you made earlier. We usually grab something to-go 1-2 nights a week. And the other night, you can defrost one of the meals you froze from one of the previous weeks.
And that’s dinner!
Lunch is very easy because it’s almost always leftovers that you conveniently pre-portioned out for yourself beforehand when you were cleaning up from that meal. And if you run out, hit up the frozen ones!
And that’s it!
I admit that this whole scheme doesn’t provide the most variety, but it’s been a great way to reduce how much we eat out and rely less on frozen food than we have in years prior. There’s space for a few random lunches or dinners that we affectionately call “every man for himself,” which really just means PB&J or cereal. But overall, this system has worked well to keep me out of the kitchen and doing other things I love more.
In case you also struggle with recipes and finding food to feed yourself and others, I thought I’d leave my absolute favorite crockpot dinner recipe down below.
Put the following ingredients into a crockpot:
2 Chicken Breasts (you could do more)
1 Can of Corn
1 Can of Black Beans (drain the liquid)
1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup (I buy “heart-healthy”)
1 Packet of Taco Seasoning
1 Jar of Salsa
Gently Mix that Together and then Cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 6-8, or until chicken is cooked.
When the chicken is cooked, pull it out and shred it. I use a mixer to shred my chicken because it’s fast, but two forks will work just as well.
Plop the chicken back in the sauce and stir.
Serve this over rice and garnish with some cheese, and you, my friend, have Salsa Chicken!