This is how you prepare a week of meals for a family of 4 in 45 minutes. Or 10 meals for 2 people!
Let’s face it – life is busy, especially if you’re a working parent with kids. Or if you’re a 20-something year old with a hectic social schedule or a 30-something year old with a jet setting corporate lifestyle. And no matter how great your intentions are, you still find yourself scrambling every night to get organised to make a nutritious meal. Forget trying to make meals interesting – that’s way too hard! It’s all you can do to get the grocery list together to make sure you restock on toilet paper :-).
So if this is you, then this post is dedicated to you. I strive to keep things interesting but still fast and easy to make, cost effective, nutritious and using everyday ingredients. Without using canned soups, store bought packet mixes or tubs of cream. Here in this one post you will find:
1. Instructions on how to prepare 5 freezer friendly meals in 1 hour. Each meal serves 4 people;
2. Printable Instructions and Shopping List; and
3. Printable Labels to stick (or staple) on the ziplock bags, including summarised instructions for how to cook.
Also, don’t forget to print out the recipes! Or even better, save them into your RecipeTin app. 🙂 Click on the images or recipe links below.
Are you ready to get started? Let’s go! Here’s what we’ll be making.
MAKE AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS
Here is the downloadable / printable version -> Preparation Instructions and Shopping list.
Poach chicken (for Bread Bake and Mexican Fried Rice)
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the chicken, bring back to boil. Remove from heat,then put the lid on and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the chicken to cook.
2. Remove chicken and allow to cool slightly, then shred with two forks or roughly chop. Set aside.
Marinate the Lamb
1. Prepare the Dressing in the Greek Lamb and Salad Dinner recipe. Combine the lamb and 1/4 cup of the Dressing in a ziplock bag and attach a label, then place in freezer. Place the remaining dressing in a jar and put in fridge until required.
Marinate the Japanese Marinated Salmon (or other fish)
1. Prepare the Marinade as per the Japanese Marinated Salmon recipe. Combine with salmon in a ziplock bag, attach a label, then place in freezer.
2. If you are eating this within 3 to 4 days, you can also prepare the cabbage. Shred the cabbage and place in a plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible, tie the bag then place in the fridge.
Prepare the Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Enchilada Soup
1. Follow the instructions in the recipe to prepare the freezer friendly make-ahead bag (see note 3 in the recipe).
Prepare Mexican Fried Rice
1. Follow the Mexican Fried Rice instructions to prepare the ingredients ahead. Use the chicken you poached. Seal the ziplock bag, attach a label, then place in freezer.
2. You will need leftover rice to make this recipe. So I have scheduled it for the day after the Salmon which is served with plain rice. But if you are worried you will forget, then cook up some rice and pop it in the freezer. Keep it separate from the other Mexican Fried Rice ingredients.
Assemble the Chicken and Spinach Bread Bake (Strata)
1. Follow the instructions in the Chicken and Spinach Bread Bake (Strata) to assemble the strata using half the chicken made in the step above.
2. Once assembled, seal tightly, attach label then place in freezer if you aren’t cooking it in the next 2 days. If you are planning to cook it in the next 2 days, just keep it in the fridge (freezer space is valuable real estate!).
Follow the instructions in each recipe to cook each meal. I’ve also included summarised instructions on the Printable Labels.
MONDAY: Chicken and Spinach Bread Bake (Strata) – a great way to use up leftover bread from the previous week or any stale bread you have lying around in the dark corners of your fridge. Make this on the weekend and just keep it in the fridge overnight, or pop it in the freezer. Then when ready to eat, just thaw it and simply pop it into the oven to bake.
Take the salmon out of the freezer and put in the fridge to defrost. Or alternatively, you can do this the next morning.
TUESDAY: Japanese Marinated Salmon (or other fish) – with only 3 ingredients in the marinade, find out why this is being made in thousands (millions!) of Japanese households tonight. You can make this with frozen rather than fresh fish – just pop the marinade into a bag with the frozen fish, put it back in the freezer and the fish will marinate while thawing. To serve, you simply sear the fish and serve alongside rice and some shredded cabbage. Because the salmon is so rich and has such a strong flavour, you shouldn’t need dressing for the cabbage!
Make extra rice for the Mexican Fried Rice tomorrow night!
WEDNESDAY: Mexican Fried Rice – Made using leftover rice from dinner the night before, just fry this up with the thawed Mexican Fried Rice mixture from your freezer and you’ll have dinner on the table in just over 5 minutes. Seriously.
Take out the Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Enchilada Soup ziplock bag to thaw overnight.
THURSDAY: Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Enchilada Soup – a great “throw it all in the slow cooker” soup. Slow cooking the chicken makes the soup stock extra tasty! Before you leave for work today, just pour the contents into the slow cooker and add a can of tinned tomatoes (as per recipe instructions). Then come home to dinner, ready and waiting for you!
Take out the Greek marinated lamb ziplock bag to defrost in the fridge (or you can do this the next morning).
FRIDAY: Quick Fix Greek Lamb and Salad Dinner – grilling is a great way to kick off the weekend! Lamb steaks take only a few minutes to cook, and with the salad dressing prepared ahead, the salad will take you mere minutes to throw together. I promise. It requires minimal chopping!
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