If you don’t already know how meal planning and making meals ahead can help you lose weight, I’ll help you with just a shortened version. When you plan meals ahead, including shopping lists, cooking them on the weekend and freezing, you’ll have ready to eat meals during the week and won’t be as apt to stop for fast food. You also have the perfect serving size already measured for you and ready to go. Here are some chicken/fish/beef/etc meal prep ideas to help you get started on a meal planning adventure.
If you want to maximize the number of uses, make Chicken Tinga.
One way to save time and money is to double up and cook more at once. Chicken tinga is a shredded chicken dish you can use in rice bowls, burritos or to top a salad. It’s easy to make and then package in single serving sizes. Cover chicken breasts with about an inch of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Save the broth. Shred the chicken. Blender together plum tomatoes, onions, garlic chipotle, spice, broth and olive oil. There are lots of great recipes, but most people flavor to taste. Mix with shredded chicken and package in half cup serving sizes. It’s about 110 calories per serving.
Stuffed peppers are another favorite.
There are so many different ways to make stuffed peppers. For vegetarians, stuffing the pepper with a mixture of quinoa, black beans, seasoning corn, and chopped tomatoes, then steaming in whole tomatoes and juice is one way. For others, shred chicken and add it to brown rice with tomatoes, corn and even beans to make the same dish. Serve with side salad.
Make chicken all at once and use it in several meals, then use the broth for soup.
If you love saving money, there’s nothing like soup to stretch the budget. It’s a great way to use up extra vegetables, too. If you don’t have chicken broth, make bone broth from leftover bones of baked chicken or beef. It’s super healthy. Making soup ahead and freezing in individual serving sizes can provide a heat and serve meal that’s microwavable and quick. Some people even use ice cube trays to freeze and then bag in plastic bags. Some of my favorite soups include butternut squash soup, vegetable soup and lentil soup.
- When you plan meals ahead, you’ll probably still want fresh fruit and vegetables for sides. You can use frozen vegetables and get the same benefit as fresh if you’re cooking them.
- Cutting calories? Make a big pan of lasagna using zucchini for the noodles. Make a big dish and freeze individual servings. Individual servings are great for families on the go and when unexpected guests come.
- Another money saving tip for make ahead meals, rehydrate a whole bag of black, pinto or red beans at once. You can mash them, add them to a salad, power bowls, soup or make refried beans. They’re super versatile.
- If you roast beef or bake chicken, double it up. Make extra and package for later. You can package them in serving sizes or the measurement you’ll most often use when cooking, such as cups. When you’re making meals for the week, that part is ready to go.
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