Quick Food Prep Routine for a Week of Easier Meals

Ready to learn how to do a 45-minute quick food prep routine on the weekend that can save your week?

Simple meal prep is part of my basic routine for how to prepare for the week on Sunday, and it makes a HUGE difference in how smoothly the entire rest of the week goes.

Let’s talk about how to prep food for the week so you can save time and brain energy… and probably eat better!

text easy food prep routine on white background over image of prepared food next to white bowl and wood utensils on blue towel

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The Evening Dinner Dilemma

It seems we always have the best intentions of cooking a fantastic meal every night of the week.

But then somewhere along the way, the daily food prep work just becomes sooo time-consuming.

At that point, we either give up on cooking and get take-out, or else we call it cereal-for-dinner night again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… just sayin’ it’s happened here more than once.

Plus, we usually eat leftovers for lunches, so if there’s no dinner, that means there’s nothing good for lunch the next day either. Bummer!

Sure, I could do the once-a-month cooking thing or throw together bags of food to plop into the crockpot every morning, but that’s just not my style. 

We’re not picky eaters by any means, but I find freezer meals are usually met with comments like, “It was okayyyyy.” Which from my family means, “Please don’t make that again.” 

In addition to that, I’m cheap frugal, so the idea of using loads of freezer bags, disposable pans, and/or aluminum foil just makes my eye twitch.

Instead, I’ve found that if I can get into the habit of spending a little bit of time to do easy food prep before the busy-ness of the week hits, I’m MUCH more likely to put together balanced dinners with mostly fresh ingredients every night.

Here’s how…

The Solution: Weekend Food Prep

Here is my method for quick and easy-style weekly food prep. I do everything in the order listed for the most efficient use of time and brain-power.

Saturday afternoon

  • Take a few minutes — seriously, like 10 minutes — to finalize your meal plan for the week.

Thanks to once-a-month meal planning and monthly grocery shopping, I always have a list of meals and plenty of the ingredients on hand. All I have to do is figure out what sounds good and what will work for each night of the coming week.

With practice, this is SUPER-easy and you can do it, too! You can make the process even easier with my meal planning printables collection.

If you need some meal ideas, check out my June monthly menu plan for warmer weather meals and October menu plan for cool weather dinners.

  • Print any new recipes you might need.
  • Head to the freezer and take out any items you will need for the week. 

Large cuts of meat or pieces packaged on foam trays can take up to 4 days to thaw in the refrigerator.

I like to thaw frozen foods on the bottom shelf of my fridge on plastic half sheet pan lids. These lids are perfect because they have sort of tall sides to contain the food and they can go into the dishwasher — which is pretty much my #1 requirement for any kitchen item purchase. 😉

prepared vegetables in containers next to empty bowl and wooden utensils on blue towel sitting on white background

Sunday afternoon or evening

All of these Sunday things should take a total of 30-45 minutes. I’m about the slowest person who ever did anything in the kitchen, and I can finish everything in that amount of time.

Doing these things all at once will make your daily cooking sooooooo much easier and faster!

  • Check the fridge & make a plan for “edgy” food.

Cook that food or freeze it. Compost or toss anything past saving. 

Need to start from scratch because the fridge is a mess? Here’s how to organize your refrigerator and stop wasting food.

  • Precook chicken and other meats for salads and casseroles.

Simmer the meat on the stove or cook in a crockpot or Instant Pot while you’re doing other things. 

After the meat has cooked, you can chop the chicken, divide into meal-size portions, and store in reusable glass storage containers

If you’ll be using the meat within a day or two, you could also just cool the meat in the pan and stick the whole thing in the fridge. Hey, sometimes just getting it cooked is most of the battle. 😉 

TIP: Store cooked chicken in the broth from simmering, it stays nice and moist that way. If you are worried about meat going bad, you can freeze it in the broth after it cools.

Cook bacon in the oven if it’s part of your weekly needs.

TIP: Save the bacon grease. Use in place of butter when cooking onions, mushrooms, or other foods that need a flavor boost.

  • Hard-boil eggs for salads and snacks. 

You can use this stovetop method for easy-peel eggs (this works so well, I can honestly say it literally changed my egg-making life). you could also use this ‘hard-boiled’ method for the oven if you’re not already cooking something else (like bacon).

  • Prep all of your vegetables.

Prep lettuce if you eat a lot of salads, especially if you take them to work for lunch. Wash, tear, spin-dry (this salad spinner is dishwasher-safe), and store in ziploc bags with paper towels. If you’ve purchased really fresh produce, preparing your lettuce this way will help it last just fine in the fridge for the week.

Chop vegetables. We use a ton of onions, so I chop enough to fill 1 or 2 quart-size containers. If I know we are using peppers and broccoli, I’ll do those also.

TIP: Freeze the clean, yellow onion peels to use when making broth. They add a natural, rich color.

Wash and cut celery and carrots.

TIP: Freeze clean celery trimmings for broth. (However, I don’t save carrot peels as they tend to turn broth an unappetizing dark gray.)

Peel garlic cloves & store in fridge.

Finally, if you’re a breakfast-type family, get a big crockpot of steel-cut oats or a breakfast casserole ready to start just before bed. Scroll through my Pinterest Recipes board for ideas.

Want this meal prep checklist in a pretty, printable format that you can adapt for your food needs? It’s available as part of my Essential Meal Planning Printables Collection.

Stacked layout view of meal planning printables on dark gray background.

Get organized by creating a simple meal and food prep plan that works for YOUR lifestyle, whether it’s for a week or a month.

Less stress and better meals? Yes, please! Click here to grab the meal planning printables!

There’s no doubt that getting into a meal prep routine will make your life at least a little simpler every day. With all the things we have to do and think about every day, who doesn’t need more simplicity?

Mealtimes don’t have to be stressful. Start your quick food prep routine this weekend and see what a difference it makes! Who knows… it may even become a favorite part of your week. 😉 

More Ways to Simplify Your Life

The Simple Refrigerator Command Center You’ll Actually Use

Eliminate Decision Fatigue — 5 Life Areas to Streamline for Less Stress

9 Awesome Ways Your Life Will Become Simpler When You Declutter

The Brain Dump — An Overthinker’s Secret Weapon

4 Fast + Simple Habits to Keep a Clean and Tidy Home

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10 thoughts on “Quick Food Prep Routine for a Week of Easier Meals”

  1. It sounds like we are very similar when it comes to kitchen routines! I need to get myself back in gear! Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty hope to see you back!

    1. Hi Crystal! Thank you so much for visiting! I know, some weeks are easier to prep and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at all. But I hate that overwhelming feeling of having to spend an extra 30 minutes every. single. night. prepping for dinner. Having most of the ingredients ready to use really does help! I’ll definitely be back to the Home Matters Party – always find great stuff there!

  2. Prepping and organizing are too things I could always do more of. These are great tips. I hate not having the meat I want to use thawed already.

    1. Hi Gladys! I also feel like I could always be more organized in just about every area, but this is one thing that makes SUCH a difference that I do my best to make it a priority every week. Having SOMETHING ready to cook is such a stress reliever!

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