Become a Menu Master

Hey, y’all! Glad you came back this week for tip #2. Just to recap, I’m Kelly and my meal prep journey was born out of my frustration with trying to balance working, family life, doing my Crossfit workouts AND cooking dinner each night. Preparing meals for the week allows me to have fresh, nutritious meals without the daily stress of cooking a meal every night. When I started sharing about my meal prep on social media, I got a lot of support and encouragement from friends and family, which led me to start small meal prep service and this blog to share my weekly menu with recipes and some meal prep wisdom I’ve learned (and am still learning) along the way.

Last week, meal prep tip #1 was to buy sectioned containers that are washable, durable and affordable to help with portion control and encourage us to fill the extra space with veggies. Now that we have our bowls on deck, let’s talk about the next step- creating your menu for the week. In order to cook for a week, you need a written plan. This can be intimidating, because often it’s hard to have a plan for what I’m doing tomorrow, much less what I’m eating three days from now. When I’m deciding on my menu, the three factors that usually drive my thought process are: value, craving and variety.

013Value

Before I start crafting my menu, I consult the weekly sales. It’s crazy how quickly I can “catch” a pork loin craving when I find out it’s BOGO! If you find a great deal, look for ways to incorporate that ingredient into more than one dish on your menu. Also, since stores tend to rotate their sale items, shopping the sales encourages variety. Looks like I made all my points in one!

Craving

I try not to deny myself if there’s something I’m craving. If there’s a dish that’s been on my mind all week or it’s really cold and I just want soup, I make it. If it’s an “unhealthy” dish, I brainstorm ways to make it more consistent with the way I normally eat. Sometimes this leads to some fun new recipe discoveries!

Variety

Lastly, as the saying goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” My menu consists of 4-5 meal options that I switch out for lunch and dinner so it never feels boring and repetitive. I make sure I have  a few different types of protein: chicken, beef, pork, seafood, beans, etc. and vary the sides I’m pairing with the meals. Finally, I write my menu in my calendar so I can look back and see what I haven’t had in a while (or what I’ve got stuck on repeat) to keep it fresh.

Here’s what I had last week:

Jambalaya, spicy roasted okra and Cajun red beans

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Bruschetta chicken, lemon orzo with spinach and pesto roasted Brussels sprouts

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I made the orzo with spinach instead of asparagus, and it was delicious! I like asparagus, but I opted for spinach  to keep things light since I wanted to try these Brussels sprouts!

Barbacoa burrito bowls with Cuban-style black beans, and cilantro rice

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Also made some chipotle lime shrimp bowls and fajita chicken bowls for my non-beef eating friends! Ps. If you don’t have an instant pot yet, get one immediately! More on that in future posts!

Chili-lime tilapia with avocado cream sauce, Cuban-style black beans and Southwest sauteed red cabbage

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See you next week with meal prep tip #3 and a new menu with recipes. Happy prepping!

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