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How to Meal Prep + Go-To Recipes!

February 7, 2022

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LIY Ambassadors

Hi – LIY Ambassador Lisa here! Growing up in a busy farming family, I watched my mom plan out our meals and write them on a sticky note for the fridge or chalkboard in the kitchen. I thought to my younger self, “oh my goodness, that’s so much work and I will never be that organized!” I look back at these thoughts and make myself laugh and think, “My mom was meal prepping/planning before it was cool…”  

My planning day typically starts on Friday for the following week. I know at some point over the weekend I will hit up the grocery store so I like to start thinking about what I have in my pantry and freezer and what I will need to add to my list from the store.

Sundays are my prep day. I create a quick healthy meal (typically before or while I make dinner on Sunday) to store in containers to have available for lunch early in the week. (Sometimes for my Sunday evening dinner I will make extra so I will then not have to make a prep meal.)  I find Sunday evenings are best for soup, a casserole of some type, or a crockpot meal. Leftovers are my friend, while I know not everyone enjoys leftovers; with our busy household, we are grateful for them.

Here are a couple tips for my prep/plan:

  • Write down how many meals you will plan/prep for the week. (I also am blessed to have a hubby that takes a day as well and it is fun to see what he is making.)
  • Get the family involved! Ask which meal they would like to see on the menu and on the night you make their pick, have them pitch in and help.
  • Don’t make it difficult! If one night you have more time to cook, take the time; if one night it’s a take-n-bake pizza with a roasted veggie; put it on the list!
  • Before heading to the store, jot down all the staples you might need for your family for the week to not only make your lunch, but theirs as well if need be.
  • Check on salad dressing and condiments before heading to the store and add to your list what you might need to replace.
  • Boil eggs to have on hand to throw in a salad or for toast for a quick breakfast or lunch addition.
  • Let the deli be your side dish friend early in the week. Grab that broccoli salad or some delicious pasta salad.
  • Wash all your fruit and store in appropriate containers for a quick grab and addition to your lunch.
  • Wash and clean your veggies, chop them up, and throw them in containers to toss in lunches or even prep for weeknight meals that might need a certain ingredient.
  • Take a look in your pantry for any type of quick grab and go snacks and create bags of nuts or crackers to add to your weekly lunch.

I like to look for recipes to make during the week that can be tweaked by changing out a certain protein or adding more vegetables. Whether you are on any type of restrictive diet or trying to eat healthier, it’s creative and fun to look at the recipe and see if you can swap something. While my family and I have our favorite meals, I do try to switch it up and balance healthy choices along with our family favorites. When in doubt; I always add a roasted veggie.

My word for 2022 is ‘nourishment’ and I do enjoy creating meals that nourish myself and my family. Having our meals organized and planned has changed my life as I navigate kids, back to work at the office, and a busy hubby.  So having things prepped and planned also nourishes my state of mind and calms the chaos of “What’s for dinner?”

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

*I use this option as a prep meal to have in containers to grab and go for lunch the first part of the week*

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 bag frozen cauliflower rice
  • 1/2 bag broccoli crowns (crowns cut in half)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Chop all veggies and add to a heated skillet drizzled with garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook on medium heat until veggies are soft and onions run clear.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Add frozen cauliflower and vegetable broth; cover and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.  Stir half-way through.

  2. Add 1 to 1 ½ cups of cauliflower “fried rice” to containers for easy grab and go lunches.

Recipe Notes

A great addition to this is some cooked chicken strips which can be bought in the deli section or freezer section of your local grocery store.

Egg Roll In A Bowl

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Egg Roll In A Bowl

*I use this option as a prep meal to have in containers to grab and go for lunch the first part of the week*

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (16 ounces) ground pork or ground chicken
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 14 oz  shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
  • 1/4 cup  low-sodium soy sauce (or liquid aminos for gluten free option)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp  sliced green onions

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, brown the meat until no longer pink. Drain the meat if it's really wet.

  2. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the cabbage/coleslaw, soy sauce, ginger, and saute until desired tenderness. (You can add a little water if you need more liquid to saute the coleslaw down.)

  3. Stir in sriracha. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with green onions. (Add additional soy sauce and sriracha if desired.)

Shepherd’s Pie

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Shepherd’s Pie

*This meal is Whole 30 compliant (Gluten Free!) and makes the best leftovers!*

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • olive oil as needed
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 1 lb ground organic beef
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375

  2. In a large pot boil sweet potatoes in salted water for about 10-12 minutes (until soft)

  3. Drain the water from the pot and add Ghee

  4. Use potato masher to mash the potatoes until soft consistency; set aside

  5. In a large pan, heat 2 Tbsp of ghee.

  6. Add onions, celery, and carrots and cook for 5 min stirring.

  7. Add the meat, thyme, oregano, and garlic powder and saute for 10 min stirring; until meat is cooked through.

  8. Spoon meat mixture evenly over the bottom of a casserole dish.

  9. Spread sweet mashed potatoes over the top.

  10. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. (I like to add a sprinkle of coarse salt to the top of the casserole before putting it in the oven.)

Lazy Lasagna

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Lazy Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • 1 package refrigerated ravioli (I like to use spinach/cheese ravioli)
  • 1 jar organic spaghetti sauce (Something with veggies is delicious!)
  • parmesan cheese
  • 1 bag mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375

  2. Saute and cook through the italian sausage in large skillet

  3. Add sauce to sausage and heat to a simmer

  4. Pour meat and sauce mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan

  5. Place raviolis in rows on top of meat and sauce mixture

  6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese

  7. Bake in oven for 30 minutes

  8. Take out of oven add mozzarella on top; broil for 3-5 minutes or until mozzarella is bubbly brown

Recipe Notes

A great side with this is some roasted asparagus; rinse and cut bottoms off asparagus; drizzle with olive oil; salt and pepper; roast in oven for last 15-20 minutes of “lasagna”

 

Chicken Feta

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Chicken Feta

*This is known as the Tik-Tok Feta recipe and my family loves it!  The Feta sauce is delicious with the broccoli!*

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 block feta cheese
  • 1 quart small tomatoes
  • 1 box penne pasta
  • broccoli florets

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400

  2. Place block of Feta cheese in middle of 9×13 pan; arrange small tomatoes around cheese and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning

  3. Sear chicken thighs in an oven safe skillet.  Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper

  4. Place the skillet with chicken in oven

  5. Place the 9×13 pan of cheese and tomatoes in the oven

  6. Bake both for 35 minutes

  7. Start a pot of salted water to boil for penne pasta; cook according to box

  8. Scatter the broccoli florets on separate sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil and salt

  9. Place broccoli in the oven with other items for the last 20 minutes of baking

  10. Remove the chicken from pan and let rest

  11. Remove the broccoli from the oven and let rest

  12. Take a potato masher and mash the tomatoes and feta until a creamy consistency

  13. Plate pasta, feta sauce, and chicken thigh on top; broccoli on the side

Recipe Notes

*If you cannot find chicken thighs, I use chicken breast strips and sear them in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper.*

Spinach Tortellini Soup

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Spinach Tortellini Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 small package refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 3 cups fresh spinach (chopped and stems removed)
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 can petite fire roasted tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese grated, for serving

Instructions

  1. Bring the stock to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat.

  2. Stir in the tortellini and simmer gently for 3 minutes.

  3. Stir in the spinach, garlic, tomatoes, Italian seasoning

  4. Season with salt and pepper

  5. Return to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes

  6.  Serve hot with the grated Parmesan cheese

Recipe Notes

Want to add protein?  Add cooked chicken strips or saute some Italian sausage and add to soup

 

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