I used to be one of those crazy people who spent five hours on a Sunday cooking and packaging every single meal and snack for the entire week. I made something different for lunch almost every day. It was exhausting and stressful, and I basically just set myself up for failure and burnout.
Fast forward to today. I keep it simple. I separate my week Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday. The only thing that is different each day is dinner. This plan is easy and actually saves me money on groceries. It also makes the pre-prep work easier.
On Saturday I get groceries. If the Farmers Market is open-I get as much as I can there.
On Sunday I get some prep in. I hard boil my eggs, wash and rinse my fruit and veggies, and I precut any veggies for the week. I also prep my M/W/F meal. Chicken is almost always a main protein. Sometimes I will grill or bake some chicken breasts and cube them, but lately I have been alternating between the grilled chicken breast strips from costco or rotisserie chicken. If it’s a rotisserie week, I strip the chicken from the bones and place in a container.If the recipe requires any kind of a sauce or fruit/veggie mix, I make that and store it in a container in the fridge. For example, this week my M/W/F lunch is the chicken parm wrap. I made my sauce which took like 10 minutes. Sunday meal prep takes 30-45 minutes.
Depending on the meal and time, sometimes I will go ahead and prep for Tuesday and Wednesday. I usually save it for Monday though. This week I made my dressing for the chicken salad, sliced my fruit for the salad, and cut fresh lettuce from my garden and cleaned it. Prep time was like 20 minutes.
My fridge is now full of containers that are filled with the building blocks of each meal and snack.
I could go ahead and package all my lunches and snacks for the week and label the containers BUT I find that the food doesn’t taste or keep as fresh by the end of the week that way…maybe that’s just me.
So, packing that lunch…
Each day when I get home from work, one of the first things I do is pack mine and my husband’s lunch for the next day. I pack breakfast, snack 1, lunch and snack 2. It takes me about 15 minutes. I just pull out my meal plan and then pull all the needed items out of the fridge. I make sure dinner for the next day is ready-as in make sure I pull the protein from the freezer if needed.
Here are some shortcuts (Note-I try to always buy organic):
-buy grilled chicken breast or rotisserie chicken
-carrots and apple slices now come in ready to go packs
-hummus, guacamole and peanut butter also come in pre-made servings
-shop the bargains in the precut veggies in the produce section
-you can also buy hard boiled eggs