Cooking for a family, while making family time

Meal Prep 101

Meal Prep 101

Why cook one dinner when you can cook 4? With snow in our forecast and school already cancelled tomorrow, I know my days will be long and I’m probably not going to feel like making big meals. So tonight while making dinner I prepared 3 others to make this weeks dinners go smoother.

Dinners:
Sloppy Joes
Tacos
Chili
Goulash

Ingredients:

1.5lb lean hamburger meat
1.5lb lean ground turkey
3 small yellow onions
4 garlic cloves
2 bell peppers (red or orange)
1 carrot
1 cup frozen corn
Array of dried spices

Tonight’s dinner was sloppy joes, I took half of my hamburger meat and browned that with 1 onion, 1 bell pepper, 1 garlic clove and 1 carrot. Then I made my sloppy joe sauce, stirred it in to combine, then covered and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

During that 20 minutes I got out 2 more frying pans, 1 small and 1 large. In the small frying pan I browned the remaining hamburger meat with Italian spices and 1 garlic clove. This will be the base for my goulash. In my large frying pan I cooked all of my ground turkey with my remaining 2 yellow onions, 1 bell pepper, 1 cup frozen corn and 2 garlic cloves. I seasoned the turkey with salt, cumin and chili powder. This will be the base for my chili and my tacos. Once cooked through I let both of my meat mixtures cool while we ate dinner. After dinner I got out 3 Tupperware containers, divided my turkey mixture in half evenly between 2 of the containers and my goulash meat mixture went into the 3rd. I labeled each and into the fridge they went.

By having already cooked your protein, dinners will come together in a flash. You can even just dump it all the crock pot for a true crock pot meal with zero prep! That’s what I plan to do for the chili tomorrow. Into the crock pot I’ll dump my prepared meat and veggie mixture with more spices, tomato sauce, beans, canned tomatoes and chili’s and chicken stock. Come dinner time you’ll just need to ladle and top your bowls with whatever you please. Same goes for taco night, into the crock pot with a packet of taco seasoning, beans, rice, tomato sauce and chicken stock. Come dinner time, pour over a salad or into tortillas or taco shells and your done! Goulash night will be different because pasta in the crock pot can be tricky but even so, dinner will be a breeze just warming up your sauce and cooking your pasta.

Now the key to meal prepping is menu planning. You cannot have one without the other. Preparing dinner with similar ingredients and flavor profiles is a great way to start and to also keep this budget friendly. I love prepping meals with ground meats because they’re such an easy protein to stretch, another bonus for the budget. By adding pasta, beans, rice or rolls, you’re bulking up the meal to be sure everyone is still satisfied while also not breaking the bank. Now I do make smaller portion sizes because with how often I cook we hardly ever eat leftovers. I would rather make something new, but that’s not for everyone. Some people like to eat the same thing all week, especially kids with limited taste palettes. If that sounds more like your family then adjust accordingly and double things you know you all will eat.

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