Whole Food Meal Prep: Cut Back on Time and Dishes!

Whole Food Meal Prep: Cut Back on Time and Dishes!

Meal prepping is one of those things that I think people believe is only for those 5am workout people or the people who spend their free time doing extreme couponing. Let me just say, both of these people are to be admired; #goals. Truth is, meal prepping shouldn’t be only for those who are extremely motivated or high achievers. Meal prep was truly designed for the rest of us; the slackers of the world, the people who need time and sanity back. It’s made for busy business runners, parents, or anyone with more than one thing going on in their life. Those weeks when I meal prep are the easiest weeks of my life. To top it off, I make my meals from scratch using the best ingredients I can find. You won’t find many frozen meals, cans or plastic wrappers when it comes to cooking in my kitchen. (Except that organic beans come in cans and frozen organic veggies come in wrappers…ya got me there.) All it takes is a few hours and a little strategy to save yourself time and cut back on dishes for the week. This is my whole food meal prep strategy to get the meals for our family of 5 ready for the week.


Step 1: Plan, Plan, Plan

Before you even think of heading to the grocery store, get a clear plan of what you will be having for the week. This particular food prep this is what my list looked like:

Breakfast Waffles, pancakes

Lunch Venison and veggetables and chicken lettuce wraps

Snacks Hard boiled eggs, fresh fruit

Dinners chicken, veggies and potatoes, potato chowder, tacos (2 days worth) Sweedish meatballs and pizza Sunday. (Pizza Sunday is a tradition my husband is desperately trying to start. It’s kind of hard to argue with him.)

Getting a clear strategy down is going to help big time when you are in the kitchen. Once you get home you can get different “stations” set up to work on all the different aspects of your meal.

Step 2: Start with the slow pokes

Getting crock pot meals in as part of your meal prep is going to be huge because they are low maintenance and allow you to be hands on with other foods. For my crockpot meals, I had already prepped chicken bone broth from a previous meal prep session, so I was all set to get my potato chowder going. Potato chowder and pea soup are two of my favorite ways to use my bone broth.potato chowder, soups, stews, recipe, chowder recipe, potato recipe, vegetable soup,

The Best Crock Pot Recipes

Chicken Caritas

Potato Chowder with Cauliflower

Pea Soup with Turkey Bacon

Step 3: Work with your “low maintenance” foods

Now that you’ve got those slow cooking meals ready, it’s time to get the low maintenance ones prepped. For me this meant my waffles, pancakes and bacon. Before I started my crock pot meals I preheated the oven to cook the turkey bacon in. This is a way cleaner, less hands on way of cooking bacon. Plus, turkey bacon doesn’t always get as crisp as regular bacon. By cooking it in the oven, I have been able to get each strip crispy and perfect; just the way I like it. See the step by step process here: How to Cook Turkey Bacon in the Oven. While I let the oven preheat, I blended my three ingredient waffles in my NutriBullet and got them cooking on the BLACK+DECKER Belgian Waffle Maker.

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After my waffles have been blended and are in the waffle iron, I got my bacon onto a baking sheet and got them in the oven, again you can see the full bacon in the oven tutorial here. How to Cook Turkey Bacon in the Oven. Then I started boiling water in a large pot to make my hard boiled eggs. While your water is boiling, bacon is cooking, waffles are ironing and crock pot’s a bubbling’ you can move onto the next step.

Step 4: High maintenance foods

Now that you have a little more focus, take the time to get the foods ready that require more attention. Like your seasoned meats or veggies. For this meal prep, I started cooking turkey bacon and seasoned it with my own spices. While I don’t have a recipe for this yet, you can check out Lindsay at Tomato Boots’s easy visual recipe right here.

While I was seasoning up my turkey, I also started steaming carrots and onion. I continued stirring the meat on my right burner while my carrots steamed on the left. Then, BAM! before you know it, the taco meat was done and so were the eggs and bacon. I transferred the taco meat to a small bowl on the counter, took the eggs out of the pot and put them in a bowl with ice water and removed the bacon from the oven. Don’t worry, this step is not as stressful as it seems and all the alarms didn’t go off in one big frenzy!

I quickly rinsed my taco meat pan and swapped out for the venison I planned on eating with my steamed veggies for my lunches.

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Step 5: Mindless work

Now is the time you’ll find yourself with a meal in the crock pot, some meals prepped, some half way done and others cooling down. Nothing really requires your attention, so it’s time to kick back with some mindless work. That mindless work for me meant peeling some meat off a rotisserie chicken. When I know I’m going to be doing a lot of prepping, I usually take this pre-made chicken route. All I have to do is remove the meat and put it in a container for easy access on wraps and/or sandwiches throughout the week. Then I save what’s left (all those bones) to create the new round of bone broth.

Keep an eye on your stove top goodies; remove anything that is done and then move on to mindless chore number 2: peeling eggs. If you don’t have any more mindless chores. It might be a good time to start on those dishes. If you don’t like doing dishes…wrangle yourself a helper!

As your stove top stuff starts to cool down, take it off the heat and set it aside. This was when I started flipping pancakes. Another mindless task that allowed me to wind down a bit. I made my 3 Ingredient Grain Free Protein Pancakes and again turned to my trusty NutriBullet to help me blend the batter.

In between this I would check my waffles, pour in some new batter and close the lid. Seriously. So easy.

Step 6: Cool down, and store

This is the part where you pour yourself a glass of wine and turn on some smooth jazz (totally kidding about that last part…unless that’s your thing, then rock on…jazz on?) Now your meats should be cooled, everything (minus crock pot meals) should be cooked and you can start storing things away for another day.

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Like I said, this is definitely something to reserve for a day when you don’t have any plans or interruptions. Personally I use it as an excuse to scream “EVERYONE OUT OF THE KITCHEN!” I choose my Pandora station, pour myself a glass of wine and use it as designated “mama time.” It definitely makes for a less stressed mom throughout the rest of the week, which I know everyone appreciates. I’m definitely a one day of work for 6 days of rest kind of gal. Check out my recommendations for some great home delivery food options!

*This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures

Some Goodies from this Post


Quick Recap

Total Time: 4 Hours

Meals Made: Waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon, potato chowder, chicken wraps, venison and veggies.

Days cooking: 2 out of 7 (I didn’t make it to the Sweedish meatballs for meal prep. But you easily could!)

Happy meal prepping everyone and if there are any tips I missed, leave them in the comments! I would love to hear what works for you!

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meal prep, whole food meal prep, whole 30, paleo diet, meal prepping, family of 5, food for the week, healthy meals, nutritious meal prep, time saving meals, time saving meal prep

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Evelyne | 7th Nov 17

    Just wanted to tell you that, after weeks of only opting for some variation of oatmeal, I’m now so excited to add in pancakes to my breakfast meal prep! I just never thought of those being easily storable and now I feel like an idiot 🙂 (but one that will have pancakes every morning, yup!)

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 7th Nov 17

      Haha well I’m glad I could help! Take a hike oatmeal!

  2. Navneet | 7th Nov 17

    Hey that’s such an amazing post, I’m inspired by this and would be giving it a shot!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 7th Nov 17

      So glad you enjoyed it Navneet! Good luck!

  3. Marcie | 7th Nov 17

    I love using my slow cooker! It’s the only way I can make flavorful meals when managing two little kids. Your recipes look awesome!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 7th Nov 17

      Exactly! Winter is the best time to take advantage of it too!

  4. Kelsie Sabers | 7th Nov 17

    These are so great! I make my own taco seasoning too! So many great ideas!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 7th Nov 17

      I tried once years ago and thought it tasted too bland. Now that I’ve cleaned up my eating habits, I can’t imagine dealing with all the salt in the packets that I used to use!

  5. Cristine | 7th Nov 17

    Such great tips. Cooking once and having multiple dishes is the key to good meal prep. Restaurants use these ideas all the time

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 7th Nov 17

      Right? This week has been a total breeze. I don’t know why I ever let meal prepping slide. It’s a must to help me keep my sanity!

  6. Tiffany | 7th Nov 17

    We just started doing something similar with freezer meals! Love how easy it makes cooking in the evening!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 7th Nov 17

      Yes! It seems so silly but the concept of pre-prepping meat and then freezing was like total news to me! Can’t wait to keep up with it.

  7. Katie H | 7th Nov 17

    I need to get back into meal prepping. It saves so much time!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 7th Nov 17

      It really does! Life is so much easier when you stick to it! Good luck!

  8. Gillian Kent | 7th Nov 17

    When my boys were still at home I would do a double batch of waffles so they could have them quickly on school mornings. I put wax paper or baking parchment between them so they were easy to separate.

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 8th Nov 17

      It’s such a simple thing that I think so many people miss! The breakfast meals are definitely my favorite time saver!

  9. Joscelyn | 8th Nov 17

    What a great idea! Would be so nice to have meals ready to go throughout the week!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 8th Nov 17

      It seriously is. I love the idea of pre-making the meats for the week. SUCH a help.

  10. Marifaith | 10th Nov 17

    I needed this reminder today!! I’m expecting#4 in a few weeks and will use some of these recipes!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 10th Nov 17

      Yes! Crock pot meals = new moms best friend!

  11. Agness of Run Agness Run | 13th Nov 17

    With the proper organization, meal prepping is definitely possible, Renee! Your post is truly inspiring and motivating for people who believe this to be impossible to achieve!

    • heartsoulwhole@gmail.com | 13th Nov 17

      Thanks so much! It really is and it feels so awesome to be on top of things!

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