Like most women in today’s society- I’m busy. I actually cringe when I hear that word because I think when we’re too busy for the daily little things, then we’re probably missing out on a truly fulfilled life- but for me, this is just for a season so I’m doing my best, with what I have, right where I am. My weekday routine includes: reading, getting ready, sitting in traffic, working 8-5 (running errands on my lunch break), sitting in more traffic, working out, cooking, prepping lunches for the next day, watching a show, setting my alarm, and then doing it all over again. While it’s busy, one of my top priorities is eating well throughout the week. My husband and I eat 3 meals a day, that I cook or prep. If we go out to eat, it’s on the weekend. The two things that keep us eating healthy through out the week + allow me to have the time to do all the things, are food prepping (30 minutes to an hour the weekend before) and crockpot meals.
Here’s my weekly food prep list:
- Fruit (usually berries or whatever is seasonal), chopped and put in a jar to stick in our lunch or grab on the go. I add these to greek yogurt for a snack at work or eat them as is with breakfast.
- Veggies (usually peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers), chopped and put in a jar to stick in our lunch or grab on the go. We eat with ranch dressing or by itself.
- Sweet potatoes. Random, I know- but I stick these in my lunches a couple days a week. To cook, all you do is poke holes in it with a knife or fork, wrap in a paper towel, microwave for 5 minutes, then top with cinnamon or nut butter. There’s so many benefits from sweet potatoes and for me, some nights I’ll have left over meat for the next day’s lunch, but not veggies so this completes my meal without cooking more food or eating something crappy like chips.
- Burgers (can be veggie, chicken, beef, salmon, etc.). I usually cook several burgers at the beginning of the week and store in containers. I can take one with a sweet potato or add in some leftover veggies from a weeknight meal. We don’t eat these with the same toppings as a traditional burger (cheese, bun, etc.). We just eat them plain, with sauce or tomatoes.
- Granola bars or granola bites. I do buy clean granola bars, but I also make these protein granola bites often for healthy snacking.
- Coffee. Some days my husband is up before me so I don’t get up to make his coffee, or we may want a cup in the afternoon when we’re at work. Our cold brew coffee maker has been SO helpful. I can make it on Sunday to last all week and costs less than store-bought.
Here’s my favorite Crockpot meals that I make regularly.
- Meat, carrots, & potatoes. This was a traditional Sunday lunch in our home growing up. It’s such a comforting meal.
- Roast: Pour a little BBQ sauce in the bottom of the pot, add your roast, then cover the top with more BBQ sauce. Chop your carrots (or use baby carrots), chop your potatoes, and then add all around the roast. Salt and pepper the veggies. Cook on low 8 hours or on high for 5 hours.
- Whole chicken: Add 2 tbsp of butter, separated, to the bottom of the pot. Place the whole chicken in the pot and cover with spices (I use chicken bouillon or a steak spice). Chop your carrots (or use baby carrots), chop your potatoes, and then add all around the roast. Salt and pepper the veggies. Cook on low 8 hours or on high for 5 hours. **BONUS: when you’re done, put all the bones in a stock pot with 4c of water and herbs. Bring to boil then let simmer for an hour. Strain the bones and you have homemade bone broth! Store in the fridge or freezer. The extra meat can be used in tacos or chicken salad.
- Chicken: Chicken thighs and drumsticks are usually half the cost of chicken thighs or breasts. This recipe is perfect for those cuts since they usually take longer to cook. When using cuts, I cook them like the roast with BBQ sauce.
- Orange Chicken with rice or zoodles (I like cauli-rice).
- Chicken: any cuts will work, chicken breasts or tenders are probably the best. Add a little butter or water to the bottom of your pot, place your chicken and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Pour 1c Orange marmalade on top of the chicken, 1/4c white vinegar, and 1/2c BBQ sauce. You could also add pineapples (chopped or canned/ strained). Cook on low 8 hours or on high for 5 hours. Make your rice or zoodles and serve with chicken on top. I like to do a cauliflower stir-fry rice with peas and carrots mixed in. **You could substitute the sauce for a store-bought version.
- Tacos or Taco Soup/ Chili.
- For taco filling: 1c black beans, 1c salsa (I like salsa verde), 1lb meat (chicken, steak, ground beef), tomatoes (fresh,chopped or canned), veggies (carrots, corn, zucchini, peppers, onions, etc.). Pour all ingredients in the pot and cook on low 8 hours or on high for 5 hours. Serve with tortillas.
- For taco soup/ chili: use all the same ingredients as the filling, but add 4c of water or broth for soup OR 1 can tomato puree for chili.
- Apple Butter (I know, not a meal, but perfect for fall)
- 1 dozen apples, peeled and chopped.
- 1/2c Water
- 1/4c Brown Sugar or Honey
- 1tsp Cinnamon and Nutmeg or All spice
- Mix all ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Mash apples then store in jars!
For a crockpot with a pot that can be used on the stove, in the oven or in the crockpot- I highly recommend this one. And to store all those lunches, glass containers are my favorite since you can reheat the meal in the container.