Each week I’m tasked with finding lunches and dinners that aren’t going to make me run to the closest fast food restaurant for an easy meal. I’m not the type of person who can eat salads every day, but I do need to eat healthy meals or I guilt myself like crazy. Am I alone in this?
I found a solution that saves me time and money when it comes to lunches. I call it (drumroll, please) Themed Meal Prep. Themed Meal Prep gives me a variety of food options while using the same ingredients to cut down on cost and time in the kitchen. If you’re like me, and want to eat healthy but get bored easily, you’ve got to start this meal prep plan today!
Step One: Choose a type of food you like: Italian, Greek, Asian, etc. and stick to it for the week.
Once I find a theme, I like to search for my recipes on Pintrest. For my first week of Themed Meal Prep, I choose an Asian menu. All I did was search Asian Recipes on Pintrest and started pinning.
Step Two: Make a list and go shopping!
After I’ve pinned recipes I like, I make a list for the grocery store. Of course, you’re not going to cook everything on your board. I usually pick two recipes for lunch and one for dinner that have similar ingredients. With themed meal planning you’ll notice most of them have similar ingredients so this should be easy! This week I choose an Asian chopped salad and a Thai wrap that will come from a peanut chicken recipe I’ll make for dinner. The ingredients listed below are for 3 recipes and will make an entire dinner for my family of 5, as well as ALL 5 lunches for my week.
- 9 chicken breasts
- 7 cloves of garlic
- 1 bunch of Green onions
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- Red pepper & chili pepper
- Cabbage (or 2 bags slaw mix)
- 2 Limes (4 tblsp)
- 1 papaya
- 3/4 cup Peanuts
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- Gluten Free Tortillas
- 8 tbsp Soy Sauce (or coconut aminos)
- Low Sodium Chicken Stock
- Sesame Oil
- White vinegar
- Red pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper
Step 3: Get Cookin’
Reduce your prep time by doing one simple thing, make all the chicken according to the dinner recipe and then divide for your lunches. Once you do that, you just mix up some dressings and chop some veggies. Here’s a sample of how I prepped for my Asian themed week.
*You will need to make 2 batches of chicken using the recipe below (unless you have a huge skillet that will fit all 9 pieces of chicken and double the sauce). Each batch takes about 20 minutes to cook and once finished, you’re done with the stove!
- Brown the chicken in a large skillet on medium high heat using 1 tbsp oil. 5-10 minutes on each side.
- Reduce heat. Add 1 sliced red pepper and 3 cloves of minced garlic to the skillet. Sautee for 5 minutes – If garlic starts to brown, turn down heat.
- In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1/3 cup peanut butter, 3 tbsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour sauce into skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low.
- Let simmer, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle green onions over top and save for lunches
- Repeat for your yummy dinner.
To Prep Your Salad:
- Take 2 chicken breasts from the peanut chicken recipe and add to large tupperware container
- Add rest of cabbage mix (about a bag and a half), shave 1 large carrot into container, add small chunks of one papaya, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup, green onions
- *NOTE! This is a double batch because you will use this for your wrap as well! Also, make the dressing in a separate container for storage (otherwise your salad will only store for a day).
- Whisk together 4 tbsp soy sauce or aminos, 2 tbsp lime juice, 4 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 4 cloves minced garlic and 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Add 1 cup peanut butter (and drops of water as needed). Whisk until smooth.
- Store until ready to eat. When ready, pour desired amount of dressing over the top of the salad and top with some crushed peanuts.
To Prep Your Wrap:
- Take 2 chicken breasts from prepared peanut chicken recipe
- Add 1/2 cups cabbage slaw, 3 tbsp green onions, 3 tbsp cilantro and 3 tbsp peanuts to large bowl and toss.
- When ready to eat, add chicken and slaw to tortilla. Drizzle prepared salad dressing over the top and enjoy!
Total prep time on Sunday is about 2 hours, but that meant countless hours of free time and less worry on my weekdays. Not to mention, I’m eating healthy meals and I’m not getting tired of them. Next week, it’s on to Greek/Mediterranean!
Want to be a rockstar? Check out my Themed Meal Prep Menu next week which includes breakfast! Another meal to check off your weekly worry list.
Let me know what you think about my Themed Meal Prep, especially if you’ve tried it! If you have any ideas for themes, I’d love to hear them! Be sure to comment below 🙂