Tula Mae Homestead

Meal Prep for the Work Week

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Meal prepping is something I am striving to do each week. It looks different every week–sometimes I do a lot, sometimes I just make a breakfast casserole. Either way, it has become clear that the more I meal prep, the better I eat. At 33, my metabolism has been run through the ringer with my wishy-washy exercise and healthy eating attitude. I set a goal to change that this year and am on week 5 of it!

Meal prepping makes my entire life easier. Time isn’t something that I have a whole bunch of. A typical weekday looks like this:

  • 4:45 am–alarm goes off, hit snooze until 5:00
  • 5:00-6:00–drink coffee while making lunches and breakfasts
  • 6:00-7:00–shower and get ready, get tiny people fed and dressed
  • 7:00-7:30–feed/water chickens and let them out. Attempt to wrangle children into various weather appropriate clothing.
  • 7:30-4:00 pm–commute, work, commute
  • 4:00-7:00–take care of chickens, do morning dishes, check homework, make dinner, do bedtime routine, soak dinner dishes
  • 7:00-8:00–sing goodnight songs, exercise
  • 8:00-whenever–rinse off, do dishes, make coffee, attempt to sleep
  • Repeat the next day

My days are jam packed. I know they won’t always be like this, so I try to roll with it. Meal prepping enables me to take the load off during the work week a bit. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been doing breakfast casseroles and soups. Needless to say, I’m casseroled and souped out.

The great thing about meal prepping is that you can trade a couple of hours on the weekend (or less depending on what you make) and have breakfasts and lunches ready to go! Depending on what you like, the possibilities are endless. Unlike my husband, I can’t eat the same thing for lunch. This week, I gave myself some choices. I figured I could share what I did in an effort to give others ideas!

Breakfast

As I mentioned, I was really casseroled out. I love the ease of making a breakfast casserole and only having to heat it up in the morning. Here are two of my favorites:  Sausage Hash Brown Egg Bake and Sweet Potato Sausage Casserole.  I do add cheese to both recipes, but that’s up to you!  This week I decided to change it up.  The chickens are laying more and more as they days get longer, which means eggs are abundant.  I’m a sucker for hash browns and home fries!  

Root vegetable hash browns are super easy to make, keep in the freezer, and taste great with bacon or sausage and some eggs!  The recipe itself is SO easy!  You can use whatever root vegetables you like–I will list the ones I used!

  • Two rainbow carrots (any carrot is fine, my children only eat the rainbow ones)
  • A beet
  • A purple potato (any potato is fine!)
  • A sweet potato
  • A Vidalia onion

Shred the vegetables with a cheese grater, food processor, whatever you like.  Combine them in a bowl.  Add in one egg and 1/4 cup of flour.  Mix until combined.  On a lined sheet pan, place them in mounds with whatever size you like.  I got 8 out of this recipe.  Put the sheet pan in your freezer until the hash is frozen (mine were in there for about 6 hours)  Place in a Ziploc bag and keep in the freezer until you’re ready to use.  When you’re ready, pan fry them as you would with any frozen hash brown patty.

Lunch

Lunches are usually the hardest for me.  I plan my dinners for the week, but sometimes forget about lunch.  This can lead to either takeout or PB&J’s.  I prepped lunch for everyone today!  

For Me

 

I like variety for lunches.  That doesn’t mean I need to eat something different every day, but the same thing every day gets boring.  This is a great recipe I found for a Mediterranean Chickpea Salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron.  I adore chickpeas and thought this would be a fresh new lunch.  Whenever I make a recipe, I always tweak it to my liking.  For this particular recipe, I swapped the couscous for quinoa and omitted the tomatoes because I think they’re icky. 

Roasted root veggies are a favorite of mine.  I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!  I usually use the same ones, but feel free to use whatever you want!  Mine looks like this:

  • Three carrots
  • A parsnip
  • Two beets
  • Sweet potato
  • Purple potato
  • Brussels sprout
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary

Cut everything into similar sizes.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake in a 400* oven for 40(ish) minutes, tossing halfway through. 

Chicken is the easiest protein to make in advance for lunches!  I was going to do different seasonings for each breast, but I got lazy and did my usual seasoning.  My favorite is a mixture of:  turmeric, rosemary, thyme, sage, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.  These will go with both the chickpea salad and the roasted root veggies!

Hubs

My husband is a sucker for soup.  I didn’t get into soup until recently and he is SO excited.  He’s been asking for a sausage soup for ages and I finally conceded.  I personally don’t really like sweet or hot Italian sausage.  I have no idea why, but my mother likes to think it’s from when my father fed it to me at 18 months where I proceeded to projectile vomit on everything.  Anywho, I digress.  I found a recipe for Italian Tortellini Soup on Pinterest and knew he would love it.  Again, I tweaked it by adding carrots and celery.  I bet this would be really good with cannelini beans, too!

This ended up making 7 pint mason jars for lunches!  A woman I work with gave me this great idea.  She said she made a big batch of soup and put it in mason jars for her and her husband’s lunches throughout the week.  GENIUS!  I have an abundance of empty jars as we plow through what I canned this summer.  There was a small bowl left over which hubs scarfed down amid happy mumbles.

Tiny people

My daughter doesn’t always get the hot lunch at school.  If she had her way, she would have PB&J and Lunchables for every lunch I packed.  Lunchables scare the crap out of me.  They look really weird and, while I haven’t read the ingredients, who knows what’s in them!  Pizza lunchables are super easy to make from home!  We always have mozzarella and pizza sauce on hand, which helps because that’s Mae’s favorite pizza!  Making the crusts couldn’t be easier!  Make a batch of your favorite dough or buy some from the store.  Roll it out and cut it with a cookie cutter or biscuit cutter.  Bake at 400* until golden brown.  Be sure to pierce the tops with a fork before you bake, or they’ll puff up.  Once cooled, pop in a freezer bag and store!  I defrost them when I pack them in the morning.

Mine did puff up a bit even though I poked them!

All set!

There you have it!  I have breakfasts and lunches for the week set.  I spent probably two hours in the kitchen to achieve this.  Meal prepping enables me to be intentional about what I put into my body.  By spending some extra time on the weekend preparing meals, I am able to make good choices without having to really think about it.  We also end up saving money because we’re not making last-minute lunch purchases when someone forgets to make something in the morning.  

What are some of your favorite ways to meal prep?  I’m always looking for new ideas and inspiration.  Drop a comment with what you do!

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