Ready to learn how to do a 45-minute quick food prep routine on the weekend that can save your week? This 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.
Don’t forget to grab the free printable food prep checklist!
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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.
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.
- 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!
- 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. 😉
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.
- 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, 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 celery trimmings for broth.
Peel garlic cloves & store in fridge.
Click the image below to get your printable checklist:
Now that you have your checklist, subscribe to get a free printable FULL YEAR of dinner ideas from Filling the Jars.
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
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