Want to know how to meal prep for 60 minutes and have 5 meals ready for the week? I don’t envy the busy mommas who arrive home at the end of a long day and are still pondering “what’s for dinner?” Personally I know that my kids are usually going a little cray, cray by the end of the day and not having a meal prepped or even thought out is a recipe for disaster!

Even though I’m a trained nutrition professional (Registered Dietitian), I’m not going to paint a rosy picture of eating gourmet meals nightly and having kids who will eat every vegetable and flavour under the sun. Geez. Wouldn’t that be nice. Absolutely!

I hope that someday I can get there and that my kids share my love of food and the amazing things that it can do for us. But let’s talk about the present.

I have to be honest and say that lately my meal planning and grocery shopping has been off the rails a bit. Life is a bit off kilter at the moment and the balance is resting solely on me a bit more. Short term this is fine but it does become a bit taxing and leads to less than regular grocery shopping and menu planning. Insert the occasional take -out meal or eggs for dinner option!

This past weekend as I was preparing dinner (fish) and the 3 kids were playing somewhat quietly (insert minimal crying), I decided to tackle a bit of meal prep for the week. Previously I had posted on my instagram feed how I’d made 3 protein choices in only 30 min’s (but I lied the ribs took a bit longer in the instant pot), 30 minutes and prepped for success!

As a busy mom of 3 kids 5 and under I’m always trying to think of task that I can group together and meal prep is often one of them. After a grocery shop I’ll try to take the time to pre-prep some veggies and stay organised as I put things away.

My husband had returned from a milk run with 1 pound of ground beef, 1 package of honey garlic sausage (the kids favourite) and 4 cod fillets. So this is how I made 5 meals within 60 minutes and gave myself some downtown during the week.

Meal Prep 5 meals in 60 minutes

Step 1:

  • Bake sausages while you are prepping your fish.
  • Remove from package and place on a rack over a baking pan.
  • Cook at 400 C for 15-20 minutes. (I don’t turn mine but check in on them about ¾ of the way to make sure that they aren’t browning too much for your liking.)

Step 2:

  • Prepare the cod for baking  (rinsed and patted dry with paper towels)
  • Laid out tinfoil on 2 baking sheets and placed cod on sheets.
  • Pour 1/2 cup melted butter onto cod.
  • Top with panko crumbs.
  • Salt & Pepper optional.
  • Cover with foil and baked at 425 deg C for 25 minutes.
  • To get a crispier finish I would suggest removing the foil for the last 5-7 minutes.

Step 3:

  • Remove the sausage once done and let rest.
  • Once cool, store in freezer container or bags for easy use later in the week.

Step 4:

  • While fish is cooking (and sausages are cooling), take ground beef out of fridge.
  • Place ½ pound in cast iron frying pan (you shouldn’t be cooking high fat foods in a t-fal pan) with 1-2 Tbsp of olive/canola oil.
  • Cook on medium low until well cooked.
  • Optionally you can start by browning some onions (depends on your kids preferences)
  • Taco seasoning can be added as well.
  • If I’m not using a homemade taco seasoning, I’ll use a low sodium version and 1 package usually last me 6-8 meals or 3-4 pounds of beef but my kids don’t like it spicy.
  • Once cooked place in a oven proof dish (easier for reheat) and let cool.
  • Once it’s cooled, place in fridge or freezer depending on your meal schedule for the week.

Step 5:

  • Using the same pan or a stainless steel pot, place 1-2 Tbsp of oil, heat it and then add the other ½ pound of ground beef.
  • Saute until cooked through.
  • Add 1 can of stewed tomatoes or 250-500 ml of prepared spaghetti sauce ( I was trying to use up some sauce that was open in the fridge).
  • Add spices as desired. I added 1 can of mushrooms here and often add ½ cup to 1 cup of shredded carrots.
  • Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • As we ate dinner I let this cool and then it was ready for fridge storage until it shows up as a menu item
  • On the pasta day, I’ll precook pasta during breakfast so it’s ready to reheat on arrival home. Throwing precooked pasta into boiling water for 1 min is a great way to revive it).

Step 6:

  • Remove fish from oven.
  • Add lime/lemon juice and salt and pepper as desired.
  • I took half of the fish that was leftover (sometimes we eat it all and sometimes we don’t) and made it into fish tacos for another meal. Easy peasy.
  • Sprinkled cumin onto fish, added lime juice.
  • Topped with coleslaw (I bought a bag of discounted broccoli slaw and added some dressing and raisins for sweetness) & frozen avocado, thawed and spread onto a tortilla. Voila!
  • The fish tacos were a last minute meal and accepted by 1 out of 3 of the kids but my husband and I really enjoyed it so I know that we’ll add them back in again.

I just love meals that can be enjoyed and then easily turned into another meal. That’s the basis of my “Take the Mystery Out of Meal Planning” guide.

Meal planning shouldn’t be hard momma! But it’s such an important part of keeping life easy when you’re working full time and have multiple little mouths to feed.

To be first for this guides release (momentarily) sign up for the ENERGY BOOST guide here. (Come on now – who doesn’t need a bit more energy?). As I said, I’m in no way perfect at my menu/meal prep but I 100% know that on the weeks where I spend 5 minutes planning, 20 minutes shopping and 30-60 minutes prepping for the week that everything seems easier.

There’s less crying, less whining and less drama (over all) after school/work/daycare. It doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t need to do all the steps at once. If you’re not meal planning at all right now, I’d encourage you to start with 1 day per week and 1 meal per week and pick the protein first and build the rest of the meal around this.

A regular grocery shop and stocked pantry also help. Or if you’re a meal planning pro, perhaps you’d like to change it up and try a new recipe every week. Either way momma, spend a few minutes planning the week get a ROI of unmeasurable calmness around meals. Much love and appreciation for all that you do!

Signature: Your Energized RD, Cathy Richards

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