How do you meal prep? I love looking at gorgeous meal prep setups on Instagram, with perfectly portioned, identical dishes all lined up! Since I have a family of four, I do meal prep a little differently.
- I prep like a restaurant: All the food gets washed, chopped, and organized so each ingredient can be added to recipes throughout the week—instantly!
- Since I have kids, I don’t have a huge block of time on the weekend (or any day!) to spend in the kitchen doing meal prep. So, instead of one huge meal prep session, I do two or three 30 minute meal prep sessions each week. Each mini meal prep session fits my menu plan for the week. That way, I only have to do a lot of prep work for dinner 2 or 3 times a week instead of every day—which is what happens if you cook without a menu plan!
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- Food safety comes first, and I do everything I can to avoid food poisoning because what mom has time for that? I don’t keep cooked meat in the fridge longer than 3 days (including the day I cook it). So if my menu plan features grilled chicken all week long, I freeze portions I’ll need later in the week on the day I grill the chicken. I never reheat meat more than once.
- The beauty of meal prepping is that you make a huge mess in the kitchen fewer times each week. For the meal prep here, I organized the order I prepped each item so I only had to dirty one knife and one cutting board, and I only had to wash my food processor bowl once!
Your most important meal prep tool: the food processor!
If you don’t have a food processor, get one! I have a great food processor, and it’s one of the cheapest available—less than $40! I’ve tried both Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart food processors and neither chopped as evenly as this food processor! Check out the reviews here! It has an extra long tube in the center so liquids don’t spill over. I love it so much, I bought a backup just in case they stop making this model!
30 Minute Meal Prep 1: Grilled Chicken Salad
List of meal prep items to help put 5 dinners on the table faster:
- Grilled chicken
- Hard boiled eggs
- Minced garlic
- Shredded cabbage
- Shredded carrots
- Shredded red cabbage
- Sliced red onions
- Diced red onions
- Blue cheese dressing
- Chopped iceburg lettuce
- Sliced scallions (green onions)
Menu plan and ingredients used for each family dinner:
- Grilled Chicken Salad: Use every ingredient!
- Garlic Chicken Pasta: Every ingredient—the grilled chicken and garlic go in the pasta dish, and everything else goes in the salad.
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas (or Fajita Salad for a gluten free option): Every ingredient except the blue cheese dressing and hard boiled egg. (Salsa with a splash of vinaigrette tastes great as a Fajita Salad dressing!)
- Grilled Chicken Fettucini Alfredo: Every ingredient—the grilled chicken and garlic go in the pasta dish, and everything else goes in the salad.
- Carnitas: Use the shredded cabbage and shredded red cabbage, plus everything from my second meal prep session of the week.
Meal prep covers more than just dinners!
- I ate salads for lunch every day during the week using the prepped ingredients, and hard boiled eggs for snacks. I have half the garlic left—a jump start on next week’s meal prep!
- The kids mostly ate dinner leftovers for lunch, so I guess this mini meal prep covered their lunches too!
- Total cost was about $30 for all the items in the photo, and everything is organic except the garlic and blue cheese. The bulk of that cost was 3 pounds of organic chicken at $6 per pound (Costco).
- Additional ingredients I used for Dinners 1-4 described above: pasta, bone broth (that’s free!), Sourdough bread (homemade with organic flour), tortillas, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, butter, cream, sour cream, salsa, and fresh fruit and veggies served at each meal.
How I meal prepped all this food in 30 minutes: teamwork and multitasking!
- Teamwork: Jefferson started the coals 20 minutes before I started the meal prep, and he grilled the chicken while I worked in the kitchen!
- Multitasking is a must during meal prep: eggs boiling, chicken grilling, carrots shredding—at the same time.
Protein prep: chicken and eggs
- Season the chicken and grill it about 5 minutes on each side, then finish it in a 375° oven for 15 minutes.
- Put the eggs in boiling water and simmer for 14 minutes, then put them in an ice water bath for 5 minutes so they’ll peel easily.
If you prep the ingredients with the food processor in this order, you can just scrape out each item with a spatula and change the type of blade as needed, and you will only have to wash the food processor after you’re all done cooking!
1. Minced garlic (chopping blade)
2. Shredded cabbage (thick slicing blade)
3. Shredded carrots (thick shredding blade)
4. Shredded red cabbage (thick slicing blade)
5. Sliced red onions (thick slicing blade)
6. Diced red onions (chopping blade)
7. Blue cheese dressing (chopping blade)
- Chopped iceberg lettuce
- Sliced scallions (I use these herb scissors—they save so much time and nobody takes them out of the kitchen because they don’t work like normal scissors!)
- I sliced enough grilled chicken for the first night’s dinner at the end of my meal prep session, and refrigerated the rest of the chicken to slice the next day (it’s easier to slice chicken neatly after it has chilled overnight).
You can see in the photo that I used Ziploc bags and Rubbermaid plastic storage containers. I recently upgraded to glass Snapware and it really is water tight! (Here’s a glass Snapware set on Amazon.) I’m trying to get away from storing food in plastic. I got a big set of glass Snapware at Costco for just $30, so check Costco first!
More Clean Eating Meal Prep!
Chop once, eat for 5 nights! What do you meal prep?