Maximize Your Weeknight Hours with Weekend Meal Prep

Maximize Your Weeknight Hours with Weekend Meal Prep

Meal prep doesn’t have to be all batch cooking huge pans of veggies and chicken breasts. It can be a quick and simple process one day of the weekend to ultimately give back some time during the rest of the week.

You can make the most of your limited time at home during the week by prepping lunches in advance over the weekend.

Meal Prep Day doesn’t have to be complicated.

Meal Prep Used to Take Me Four Hours

When I first started down the meal prep trail, I would do those cute mason jar salads, which was great. The problem was, I was worried about getting bored with the same salad every day. So, I would get different colors of bell peppers, chicken and shrimp, and two types of salad dressing.

Then, I would go to great lengths to make every salad different, by putting together different combinations of dressing and meat and freaking color of bell pepper.

And, that was just my salad. This wasn’t a quick and simple weekend meal prep process at all.

I would also usually bring four snacks with me to work. Snacks would range from fruits and veggies that needed to be cut up, to peanut butter “pudding” which was cottage cheese, peanut powder and stevia blended smooth in a food processor.

On top of all that, I also did as much of the prep work for my dinners for the week as possible during meal-prep time too. I chopped veggies, browned beef and mixed up sauces after making all those lunches.

My Quick and Simple Weekend Meal Prep Process Was Born

Eventually, I learned that spending such a huge chunk of one of my weekend days was too much. If I camped or took a weekend trip, I’d be up late on Sunday night trying to get my meal prep done and then would be completely exhausted all day Monday.

Even if my weekend was wide open, meal prep went from being something I really enjoyed, to a huge, daunting task that I would dread all week.

Finding the Perfect Balance to Reduce Stress

So, it was back to the drawing board.

By this point, I was so wrapped up in the way I’d been doing it, that I was having a hard time seeing how I could simplify. Things didn’t get simpler right away.

When my father-in-law went into the hospital though, the rest of our lives simply had to slow down. For the first 9 months of his hospitalization, Hubs and I both went to see him every day after work, plus all day on Saturday and Sunday.

Our house was neglected, and so were our bodies. Exercise completely went out the window, and we were basically living off of restaurant food and vending machines so our nutrition and financial wellbeing weren’t doing so hot either.

I finally made the choice to stay home in the evenings during the week and just go visit on the weekends, so I was able to start providing a home-made meal for dinner at night. During the last couple months of his life, I also cut back to one visit each week, instead of two.

This wasn’t because I didn’t love him or want to spend time with my family, but because I needed to be sure that my husband and I were taken care of as well.

Anyway, since time was still a hard-to-come-by commodity, when I did start back in on meal prep, I knew it had to be simple or it wouldn’t happen.

So these days, I prep breakfast and lunch for Hubs, which usually consists of an apple, a handful of walnuts, some cheese, a vegetable (usually something easy to work with like radishes or baby carrots), and some form of meat (roast beef, chicken salad, jerky, etc.). That comes together within 15 minutes usually. My breakfast is simple to throw together for myself each morning, and we share the responsibility of cooking dinner, depending on who is home first. Then, I have leftovers for lunch during the week.

Making a Big Meal at the Start of the Week

Hubs is off work on Mondays, so that’s one of his days to make dinner. While his dad was in the hospital, I had to send him to work each day with all three meals, because he was typically away from home during the week from 4:30 AM to 8:00 PM. During that time, I would prep his breakfast and lunch just like I do now, I had leftovers for lunch each day, and I sent him with leftovers for dinner.

So, we always had to be conscious of making large meals even though it’s just the two of us, because we depended upon those leftovers.

Since Hubs got used to cooking that way, he’s still really good about making a huge meal on Monday nights. This is really great now, because if something comes up later in the week that keeps me away from home a little later than usual, we’ve got leftovers in the fridge to fall back on. This large meal on Monday helps me to maintain my quick and simple weekend meal prep.

Meal Planning at the End of the Week

Meal prep wouldn’t work well if there were no planning ahead. I usually write out my meal plan on Thursday or Friday, and do my grocery shopping Saturday morning. Then, I can meal prep on Saturday or Sunday, whichever works better around weekend plans.

Learn from My Mistakes

Don’t burn yourself out by going all in and trying to prep extravagant courses for every meal of the week in one day. Start small and find your perfect balance of feeling prepared for the week ahead with minimal stress. Take my advice and keep your weekend meal prep quick and simple.

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Meal Prep Day doesn’t have to be complicated.

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