Traditional meal prep/planning is good in theory but the idea of eating the same meal everyday truly depresses me. I’m not kidding. The reason I even started this blog was because I love food! And not only do I love food, I love all types of food. Variety is indeed the spice of life. No day should be the same. And in my world, it never is. I strive to make sure I eat something different and delicious for every meal. Even snacks.
Sometimes I wing it because hashtag life but honestly, the best weeks are the ones when I actually do plan my meals for the week. As I mentioned on Instagram, I don’t always meal prep but when I do, I have a different system than what you usually see from other people.
Not your Mama’s Meal Prep
Not gonna lie, I sometimes feel like a fraud doing meal prep. I come from a Cuban family where dinner was a big deal and my mom would make like 3 courses EVERY NIGHT.
A microwave mom she was not (and she still isn’t and probably will never be).
She cooks every meal at the very moment it will be eaten. Dinner time was done when she got home from work every night. She worked 8 hours a day, picked us up from school, did groceries, cooked dinner, washed dishes, and did more chores after that. HOW did she do it all!? The world may never know. She’s just a badass and that’s all there is to it.
Life is way busier now though. We commute to work. Deal with hours of traffic. We have more responsibilities now too. There’s not always time to make dinner EVERY night. Or maybe dinner is just not as big of a deal as it was back in the day. Regardless, meal planning helps immensely with weeknight dinners and helps keep you in check from spending your life’s savings on uber eats.
The Mix + Match Method
Time and time again, I see people prep protein and vegetables, divide them into containers and eat the same thing everyday. The thought of that alone makes me cry hard tears. Granted I know a lot of people prefer this method because it takes the guesswork out of dinner. I get it. But I personally just can’t do it. Even when I paid for meal delivery services back in the day, every meal would be different. Every week, everyday.
So here’s what I do. Every Sunday, I make a plan for the week. I see what I have in my pantry and fridge. Figure out what meals I can make from that or if I want a specific recipe, I make a list and head to the store. (sometimes I do Instacart, sorry not sorry, it saves SO much time)
I then prep protein and vegetables and place them in containers BY TYPE OF FOOD. One container for salmon, one for chicken, one for sweet potatoes, one for mushrooms, etc. That way I can mix and match my meals all week long and never eat the same meal everyday. Cuz let’s be real, how do I know I’m going to want the burrito bowl I made on Sunday on Wednesday, ya know? That’s my method – the mix + match method.
Whether you list out specific recipes/meals or just do the mix + match method, I recommend writing it all down on a magnetic white board (or meal planner printable!) and placing it on your fridge so you can see it every night. Seeing it keeps you in check!
Helpful Tips + Recipes
To give you a better idea of what I do when I do meal plan, here’s the breakdown (and a few of the top quick + easy recipes from the blog).
For each week, I like to cook two different proteins. Just so I can pick and choose what I want throughout the week. Depending on what I have in the fridge (or what’s on sale lol), that looks like this:
- ground turkey + salmon
- salmon + chicken
- chicken + lean ground beef
- shrimp + chicken
- fish + lean ground beef
Sides: Grains + Veggies
I then make a few veggie options and rice. I don’t know if it’s my Cuban heritage talking here but there’s always some kind of rice in my house. Brown rice, quinoa, jasmine rice, white rice, cauliflower rice. It’s just an easy and quick side so I try to have a container with rice in case I need a quick meal. Cauliflower rice is the only one I make on the spot because it gets mushy if you leave it in the fridge for too long. For the veggies, I either roast or sauté them with olive oil and spices like this:
- chopped sweet potatoes (salt, pepper, smoked paprika)
- sliced brussel sprouts (salt, pepper, smoked paprika)
- sliced mushrooms (cumin)
- spinach (minced garlic)
- onions + bell peppers (salt + pepper)
Also, I love having avocado, fresh herbs, tomatoes, green onions, and arugula on hand for salads during the week. Sometimes I’ll have carrot matchsticks, cucumber, zucchini, olives, capers, chickpeas, canned tuna, black beans, plantains, and potatoes on hand too.
The basic formula I follow is Protein + Veggies and/or a Grain = Dinner.
- Salmon + Sweet Potatoes + Brussel Sprouts + Rice
- Chicken + Mushrooms + Quinoa + Garlic Spinach
- Ground Turkey + Cauliflower Rice + Tomato + Arugula
At the end of the week when you want to use up whatever is left in the fridge, make a frittata, pizza, tacos or nachos. Maybe even a smoothie.
This past week, I made homemade chips and stacked on whatever was left over in my fridge plus green onions and cheese. Broil it for a bit in the oven to melt the cheese and done. Best (and easiest) meal ever.
Sauce is Life
Also, let’s not forget SAUCE. You need sauce to make that meal shine. Not physically but figuratively. Here are my faves. Make 1-2 of these for the week and never eat bland again!
- Avocado Chimichurri
- Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce
- Cilantro Garlic Sauce
- Homemade Lightened Up Chipotle Mayo
- Lemon Yogurt Sauce
- Avocado Sauce
- Cilantro Garlic Chimichurri
- Avocado Crema
- Mango Rum Sauce
- Lightened Up Big Mac Sauce
- Arugula Pesto
- Homemade Lightened Up Caesar Dressing
- Mango Mojito Dressing
- Avocado Dill Dressing
- Homemade Honey Whiskey BBQ Sauce
- Guava BBQ Sauce
When and if you don’t have time to make your own homemade sauce, aim to have limes, hot sauce, soy sauce (or coconut aminos), ranch (note to self: need a homemade version), bbq sauce (Stubbs is my fave) or olive oil + vinegar in the kitchen. Sometimes the sauce is what I look forward to the most during the week!
Quick + Easy Recipes for Meal Planning
- 15-Minute Spicy Fish Tacos with Slaw
- 15-Minute Honey Mustard Salmon
- 30-Minute Cuban-Style Deviled Shrimp (Camarones Enchilados)
- 15-Minute Asian Collard Green Wraps
- 35-Minute Easy Vegetarian Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha)
- 15-Minute Zucchini Noodles with Arugula Pesto + Shrimp
- 25-Minute Chorizo Mac and Cheese with Cheesy Chicharrón Topping
- 35-Minute Healthy-ish Cuban Bibimbap Bowl
- 15-Minute Pistachio Crusted Salmon Lettuce Wraps
- 25-Minute Quick + Easy Honey Garlic Salmon Skewers
- 25-Minute One-Pan Quick + Easy Vegetarian Paella
- 15-Minute Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice
Add these to your rotation! You can also download my free quick + easy cookbook with the top 10 recipes made in 35 minutes or less along with meal planning tips, and a weekly meal planner. Click here to snag it!
That’s all folks. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram.
Hope this post was helpful!
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