Guess what my favorite time of the month is? Meal prepping! Due to this routine I have found myself in, we have begun saving a significant amount of money (and time) on groceries. If we were to cut out all the soda, we’d be down to about $200 a month on food for our family of three! That’s without couponing and all from planning, prepping and choosing items wisely. Today, I’m going to share with you a quick version of my meal prep days.
- Create your menu. Make a list of all the meals that you wish to have in your time frame, whether it’s a week, two weeks or a full month. I have a set list for breakfast + lunches that I use repeatedly with the basics. Oatmeal, cereal, pancake mix, syrup, bacon, eggs, etc for breakfast. Mac-n-cheese, sandwiches, soups, etc for lunch.) Dinners I whip up depending on the season, our schedule and what we are in the mood for. Remember to add snacks or desserts as well, if you choose.
- Make your grocery list. Add all the ingredients you will need for your menu. I’m quite OCD about my lists, so I go as far as sorting the ingredients by the sections of the store. Make your list to suite you.
- Go shopping. If you coupon on a regular basis, then you can save a lot more than I do. I choose to clip coupons only when I have the time, when I know it’s something I use or if I want to try a new product out. Make sure to get everything on your list first, as this is to be used for your menu. I compare prices of different brands + sizes, then choose what’s best for me. Just in doing this and preparing ahead of time, I have cut our grocery bill from $450 a month down to $250 currently.
- Gather supplies + ingredients. Pull out everything that you need (except for the meats). This includes freezer bags, saran wrap, utensils, bowls, something to label your bags with, etc.
- Label packaging. I take a moment to label freezer bags with the name of the recipe and quick cooking instructions (such as Chicken + Dumplings – Crockpot on High for 8 hours. Shred + add biscuits pieces. Cook additional 1 hour.). If I have a monthly list and have two of the same recipe, I go ahead and label two separate bags.
- Cut, chop + dice. All your veggies, fruits, cheeses, etc that need to be cut, chopped or diced, should be completed first. I add these to the bags that I labeled as I go.
- Add the meats. I clean up my area after finishing up with all the veggies, fruits and cheeses. I get all my meats out and work with them one at a time, cleaning up after each type of meat. Some recipes call for ground hamburger, so I go ahead and cook large amounts at a time for multiple recipes. This takes some time out from cooking before each meal. Once cooled, I can separate it and place into the bags needed. Some meats you only have to trim the fat and some need to be cut into slices or bite sized pieces, depending on recipes.
- Add condiments + seasonings. Now, according to your recipes, place the last condiments + seasonings into the bags. This can include anything from honey mustard, ketchup, bbq sauces, garlic + herb marinades, seasoning packets, salt + pepper, garlic powder, etc. If the recipe calls for small amounts of liquids, I add them at this time as well. If the recipe calls for a larger amount of liquid (about 2 cups or more) remember to add that to the label on the bag so you can add it when you cook that meal.
- Store your prepped meals. Most of my meals are freezer to crockpot or one-pan oven dishes. So I lay the freezer bags flat and stack them in a nice fashion to take up less space. I also have a “no touch” drawer for the fridge. I put everything needed for meals that are prepped in here that needs to be cold. I have a shelf specifically for canned/boxed items like this as well. Everything else in the house is free to be used as snacks.
After planning + prepping (usually takes me one day of planning + two days of prep work), I can sit back and relax. Every night, I pull out the next nights dinner to defrost. Most are able to be tossed into the crockpot frozen if I happen to forget. The one-pan oven meals I tend to pull to defrost two nights before.
I prepped 20 dinner meals (list below), on my last prepping session. Since the first of the year, I haven’t spent more than 15 minutes “cooking” in the kitchen at all, excluding 2-3 prep days a month. I absolutely love saving time!
Freezer to Crockpot Meals prepped:
- 2 x Chicken Fajitas
- 2 x Chicken + Dumplins
- 2 x Garlic + Herb Pork Chops
- 4 x BBQ Ribs
- 1 BBQ Dr. Pepper Chicken
One-Pan Oven Meals Prepped:
- 2 x Hamburger for Spagetti
- 4 x Hamburgers
- 3 x One Pan Chicken Bake
My next post for meal prepping will include what I do for breakfasts and lunches. Soon enough, I’ll add the recipes and sample menu plan that I use for dinners as well.