It’s no secret that Keri loves a good menu plan. She loves it almost as much as she loves referring to herself in 3rd person. Ha ha ha (seriously though, I do use 3rd person a lot. Probably has some super deep psychological meaning. OH LOOK, I digress already.)
I am a huge proponent of menu planning as a way to save time and money, and reduce stress on my working mom self.
I have a whole shopping and planning system which I talked about here. I won’t go down that rabbit hole today, as it is deep and long, and probably really scary to innocent onlookers.
BUT in addition to my menu planning, I also love a good round of prep cooking to get my week set up for success.
When I start talking about what I do to prep every week in casual conversation, I get some heavy sideways glances. “Oh Keri, that’s not going to make a difference,” say the non-believers. “I don’t have time to do all of that,” say the negative Nellies.
“That sounds like a lot to do,” say the naysayers.
But nay nay, Naysayers is what I say! (Watch me whip, watch me say nay nay…. couldn’t resist.)
Most Mondays I spend about 1 hour, including clean up, prepping things I will use to make meals throughout the week. Some prep will actually cover coming weeks as well, as I sometimes grill big batches of chicken breast to freeze for later use, or make a bunch of turkey meatballs and bake them off before freezing.
With my contract writing jobs becoming more frequent, and my determination to make time every evening to spend with Jr and The Hub, cooking is just NOT something I can devote hours too every night. I know many of you can relate! (Can I get an amen!?)
So, I thought I’d share this week’s menu and prep with you to show how a quick prep session can make it easy to get dinner on the table lickety-split at night.
This week’s menu:
Monday: Siracha pork and broccoli bowls
Tuesday: Turkey kielbasa with peppers, corn (for the carb lovers in the house.)
Wednesday: Stuffed chicken breast, frozen veggie (probably cauliflower.)
Thursday: Taco casseroles, avocado green salad
Friday: Charcuterie and cheese platter (very typical Friday night fare, I keep a running stash of different ingredients I can throw together after Jr. goes to sleep when The Hub and I finally get to stop and take a breath at the end of the week.0
Saturday: Dinner out at a local spot
Sunday: Pot roast and roasted veggies (I will need to pull this from the freezer on Friday morning, so I make sure it is on the posted menu to help me remember.)
How I prepped:
Oh look – there’s Keri’s kitchen in the thick of Monday prep time.
– The skillet is full of browning meat for the taco casserole, which I season with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.
-I have shredded cheese for the casserole
-The crock pot has 1 lb of pork roast being cooked in a mixture of Pampered Chef Asian Seasoning and Siracha.
-On the back left side of the stove I am also hard-boiling eggs for my breakfasts this week, and (not pictured) there are chicken thighs on the grill for my lunches.
-I am cutting red peppers – 1 half pepper for the taco casserole mixture, the other 1 and 1/2 cut in strips for sautéing with the kielbasa on Tuesday. (Note the plastic bag – I keep a trash bag or bowl right on the counter and pitch everything in there so I am not going back and forth to the trash. Thanks Rachel Ray, for giving that handy tip years ago!)
After setting a little bit of the meat aside for Jr. (who is in his extra picky 4 year old phase,) I toss the peppers and cheese into the slightly cooled skillet of seasoned ground turkey, and divide it into individual large ramekins:
These came with handy lids so I can seal them up and stack in the fridge. (I do a variation on this type of “casserole” almost every week. The Bacon Cheeseburger variety is another I have mentioned on ED&BK previously.)
I bag up the pepper strips, divide the eggs and chicken thighs into containers for my daytime meals, and do my dishes. Just under an hour.
Done and done.
This leaves only a few quick steps each evening:
Monday: drain and shred the pork, add Siracha to taste, steam broccoli (cut, blanched and frozen during a broccoli hording round of prep a few weeks ago.)
Tuesday: Cut Kielbasa into chunks and quick sauté with red peppers. Heat canned corn. Pull previously grilled chicken breasts from freezer for tomorrow
Wednesday: Turn on oven to 375, slit chicken breasts and stuff with pepperoni and cheese and stick in oven to heat for 110-12 minutes. Steam frozen veggie.
Thursday: Remove casseroles from fridge and allow to come to room temp while oven heats to 375. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Slice avocado. Serve with bagged salad (so lazy, Keri.)
Friday: Take roast for Sunday out of freezer to thaw in fridge. From there it goes something like this – watch Jr eat ANOTHER PB&J and “GoGurt Simple” for dinner. Decide to pick battles. Open wine, put Jr to bed. Pull out selection of meat and cheese (it varies, but there is always a LARGE pile of prosciutto which Keri doesn’t have to share because The Hub doesn’t care for it.) Stack up high on cutting board along with crackers, cheese crisps, nuts, dried fruit, etc. Sprawl out on floor with aforementioned wine, and exhale.
Another week of dinners with exactly ZERO pain in my patoot, thanks to one hour on Monday (or Sunday, or whenever it works for you,) spent prepping!
Hooray!! We should treat ourselves to another glass of wine, no?
What are your favorite time and sanity saving tricks in the kitchen? I am always on the hunt for great ideas, so shout them out in the comments below and share with all of us!