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, my meal prep looks a little different:
I prep like a restaurant, getting everything washed, chopped, and organized so each ingredient can be added to recipes throughout the week—instantly!
Another way my meal prep is different: I don’t have a huge block of time on the weekend (or any day!) to be shackled to the kitchen!
[Affiliate links in this post are for your convenience and offer free shipping with Amazon Prime. Get a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime!]
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 exactly. 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!
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 1 knife and 1 cutting board, and I only had to wash my food processor bowl once!
Your Most Important Meal Prep Tool!
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 also 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
Items I Prepared:
- 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 Meal
- Grilled Chicken Salad: Everything except the garlic!
- Garlic Chicken Pasta: Everything—grilled chicken and garlic for the pasta, and everything else for salad.
- Grilled Chicken Fajitas/Fajita Salad for gluten free option: Every item except the blue cheese dressing and hard boiled egg.
- Grilled Chicken Fettucini Alfredo: Every item except the blue cheese dressing and hard boiled egg; grilled chicken and garlic for the pasta, and all other items for salad.
- Carnitas: Shredded cabbage and red cabbage, plus everything from my 2nd meal prep session of the week.
- I ate salads for lunch every day during the week using the prepped ingredients, and hard boiled eggs for snacks. (The kids mostly ate leftovers for lunch.) I have half the garlic left—a jump start on next week’s meal prep!
- 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 for Dinners 1-4: pasta, bone broth, French bread, tortillas, cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, butter, cream, sour cream, salsa, fruit.
How I meal prepped all this food in 30 minutes:
- Pre-prep: Jefferson started the coals for me 20 minutes before I began cooking.
- Multitasking is a must during meal prep: eggs boiling, chicken grilling, carrots shredding—at the same time.
- 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 11 minutes, then put them in an ice water bath for 5 minutes (they’ll peel easily; I peeled some and left some in the shell so they’d stay fresh longer).
Food Processor (in this order so I don’t have to rinse or wash the bowl between ingredients):
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 scissors)
- I sliced enough grilled chicken for the first night at the end of my meal prep session, and refrigerated the rest of the chicken to slice the next day (chicken slices much prettier after it’s chilled overnight).
More Clean Eating Meal Prep!
Chop once, eat for 5 nights! What do you meal prep?