Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meal Planning Yes You Can!

The thought of meal planning, cooking ahead etc. is terrifying to many. I often hear excuses (from myself included):

"I don't have the time"
"I don't know where to start"
"Is it really worth it?"

YES it is worth it and you would be surprised just how little time it takes! I decided to challenge myself today and see just how long it would take me to do some prep for the week. I spent exactly 1.5 yes one and a half hours including clean up. Here is what I was able to accomplish:

* 2 dozen banana muffins
* 1.5 dozen cinnamon rolls (not from scratch)
* 3 dozen chocolate chip cookies
* 1 batch PF Changs Lettuce Wraps
* 1 batch Maui Chicken
* 1 pan of rice
* 1 meatloaf
* 2 loaves of bread (they are rising just need to bake)
* fixed lunch for 4 STARVING (yes they thought they were starving) children

By multi tasking and clean up as you go, meal prep can be quick and easy. Here is how this broke down:

* Step 1: Mix up the banana muffin batter. Bake the first batch along with the cinnamon rolls. While these are cooking go onto step 2.

* Step 2: Brown half the chicken (doesn't need to be cooked through) and then put it in the crock pot for the maui chicken. Start browning (and cooking through) the rest of the chicken and move to step 3.

* Step 3: Assemble the Maui Chicken in the crock pot. I used frozen peppers & onions I had in my freezer from over the summer. The crock pot will now do the rest of the work.

* Step 4: Take the muffins and cinnamon rolls out of the oven and put in another batch of muffins.

* Step 5: Start a pan of rice.

* Step 6: Dice up veggies for Lettuce Wraps. I don't like mushrooms and didn't have water chestnuts so I diced up carrots and cabbage. I also mixed up the stir fry sauce. Remove the chicken from the pan to cool and toss in the veggies to saute.

* Step 7: Take muffins out of oven to cool.

* Step 8: Mix up cookie dough and start first dozen in the oven.

* Step 9: Chop up the chicken and add it back to the veggies along with the stir fry sauce. Turn off burner to let it cool. Turn off rice to cool.

* Step 10: Mix up and shape meatloaf. Put it in the freezer (uncooked) for later this week.

* Step 11: Finish baking cookies while cleaning up the dishes.

* Step 12: Start yeast water for bread and fix lunch while that proofs.

* Step 13: Finish mixing bread dough and let it rise.

* Step 14: Package up muffins. Half go into the freezer and can be pulled out later in the week. Put the cookies and cinnamon rolls in airtight containers.

* Step 15: Package up Lettuce Wraps/Rice and Maui Chicken/Rice in divided containers to use for lunches this week.

* Step 16: Bake loaves of bread right before starting dinner. I will need the oven to cook part of dinner. This way one loaf can partially cool so we can enjoy it with tonight's dinner.

* Step 17: Take a basket of goodies to the neighbor (Cookies, muffins and some bread) its always good to share with others!!!!

This may seem like alot of steps but trust me it all went very quickly. No special skills are needed just a few simple recipes and a desire to save money and be prepared for the week!

What are you doing to be prepared for your upcoming week? Do you have questions on where to start of what does/doesn't work? Please let me know!

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