Easy Meal Prep and Recipes

Easy Meal Prep and Recipes

Having a family of 6; not having time to cook, is not an option in our house.  With so many after school activities, everyone needing to be at one place at one time, I find that having either a crockpot or a quick put-together meal is always best.  When I know I’m going to have a busier week than usual, I definitely plan meals ahead. When we have a lighter activity week, I tend to just grocery shop haphazardly in hopes that something will be prepared at sometime by someone.  I’m fortunate that my kids are getting older because getting help in the kitchen is awesome! I didn’t always have that and can think back to having to do a lot of it all by myself.

I was a stay at home mom for several years.  Although, some might think that’s having it pretty easy, it just meant I had more things I was able to do around the house:  landscaping, gardening, canning, shoveling snow (wintertime), painting rooms/furniture; on top of every day housework and caring for kids.  I always had the thought that if my husband had to go to work, I had to do my fair share around the house…

Once my youngest started school, I went back to school and then started working… it turned out it was not the career path I wanted to go into, so I’m back to being at home, but running many different businesses, managing a home, and maintaining outside space.  I now have to manage my time very differently. I absolutely have no time to cook and had to do something about it, because my family still needed to eat and eat healthy.

The first thing I did was purchase a food processor…food processorbest investment EVER!  I made sure to do my research and read a lot of reviews before purchasing this particular one, and I couldn’t be happier.  I pick a day where I prep and cut up a bunch of vegetables in the processor. It’s quick, easy, and it’s an easy clean up (click on the picture for more details). I also use my vegetable scraps to boil down to make a vegetable broth for later use. If I don’t use the scraps I throw them into my compost.

vegetablesGallon size ziplock bags are labeled with the names of the meals, then filled with vegetables, and are put into the refrigerator.  There’s enough bags for the meals I plan to cook throughout the week. These vegetable bags will be used for soups, crock pots, or stir fries. Another cheat is to buy a lot of vegetables frozen; this way they will not turn ‘bad’ if not used within so many days. When I need broccoli, peas, and corn, I buy the frozen bags.  Make sure to buy broccoli florets, because broccoli cuts are just the stumps of the broccoli and they are not as good; wish someone would have told me this years ago, it would have been very helpful (tough lesson learned).  Frozen is the next best thing next to fresh. I refuse to use vegetables from a can because they are soft and may contain high sodium levels. Although, when using beans, I use canned; and I also save the cans for future crafting projects.

What to prepare?crockpot  Crockpot meals are the most convenient.  You can make them up the night before or the morning of and dinner can be served whenever you plan to eat it.  It’s also an easy clean up. One pot verses a bunch of different pots and pans is definitely easier; on your dishwasher and your hands if you have to wash by hand. 

**Click on the picture above to learn about this crockpot

One of my family’s favorite crockpot meal is:

fajita stewCrockpot Fajitas

1 package of fajita labeled beef

5-7 mini colored peppers sliced

1 large sweet onions chopped

1-2 packages of mushrooms sliced-

(depends on how much you like)

3 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

*You can buy fajita powder mix (packet) to add instead of spices.

Optional:  sour cream

soft shell taco

Cut meat into smaller slices, slice peppers and mushrooms, and chop onions; mix into crockpot with spices or fajita powder packet.  Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours. Before serving, cut up flour tortilla shells (I usually cut and bag up when I prepare the crockpot), and add shredded cheddar cheese.  Top the cut tortilla and cheese with the fajita mixture.

fajita ste

Dollop of sour cream is optional.

Stir fries are always a hit for our family.stir fryJust by throwing a bunch of vegetables in a, olive oil sprayed, foil pan and either bake in the oven or cook over the grill.  

We usually cook chicken or pork over the grill, slice, and keep in a container in the fridge to add to salads, burritos, and stir fries.  I can’t stress enough how much easier it is to have vegetables and meat prepared ahead of time, especially if you’re strapped for time.

Another easy family favorite is:

Ginger Chicken SoupGinger Chicken Soup

1-2 Rotisserie Chicken/s (pull apart, pieces)

–Store bought, already cooked

4-6 Quarts Chicken broth

(I use half store bought broth/half water with bouillon cubes)

1 Large onion, chopped

3-5 Stalks of Celery

2 Bags frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, corn)

2 Bags frozen broccoli florets

3 Tablespoons fresh ginger, finely grated

3 Tablespoons olive oil

3-4 Teaspoons minced garlic

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar

½ Teaspoon turmeric

½ Teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 Tablespoons parsley

½ Teaspoon pepper *optional

Add olive oil, garlic, onions, and celery to a large sauce pot and cook on medium until onions look transparent.  Then add everything, but the broccoli, cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir in broccoli, cover soup, remove from burner.  Serve in 15-20 minutes.

Last but not least:

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

1 package stew meat

2 Cans cream of mushroom

1 Cup Milk

1 Large sweet onion

2 Packages of portabella mushrooms

1 tablespoon italian seasoning

½ teaspoon garlic powder

8 ounces cream cheese

8 ounces sour cream

Mix together first 6 ingredients in crockpot.  Cook 4-6 on low. Half hour before serving, turn off crockpot, stir in cream cheese and sour cream.  Serve over rice or egg noodles.

I hope some of these ideas/tips were helpful to you and that you may use some of these recipes in the future.  If you have any easy meal prep and recipes that you want to share, please comment below.

 

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