Sunday-ish Meal Prepping
After a few weeks of ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch each day at work, I decided it was time to eat with a little more variety each day. I found this subreddit about "Meal Prep Sunday", where the idea is that on Sunday you spend a few hours in the kitchen preparing food for the week. I ordered these meal prep containers that have one main section and two smaller sections for sides. I thought 10 containers might be too many, but it's been perfect because sometimes my recipes will make enough food for 6-8 days instead of just 5.
I found it works best to have everything in the sectioned container be microwavable, or everything not need the microwave. So don't put applesauce as a side with your chicken, because then you have to put the chicken on a separate plate before microwaving it, or eat the applesauce first. It just works better to put the entire container in the microwave and nuke it for 2 minutes or so. (This took me an embarrassing number of weeks to figure out)
Here are some of the meal-preps that I've made so far
Meat and Cheese Sandwiches
At the beginning of the week you can put sandwich-portions of ham/chicken/turkey/cheese/toppings all into a ziplock bag or tupperware container. Then in the morning you just pull that container out of the fridge and grab some bread or buns and there ya go - a ten second sandwich. This way the sandwich doesn't get soggy. Alternately you can throw together a sandwich while your coffee or bagel is heating up in the morning.
For added efficiency pre-package your bread into daily portions.
Okay this is semi a joke - but seriously you can just bring in two slices of pizza and call it lunch for the day. I've done it countless times. Also a good way to make the more complicatedly cooked meals last longer.
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
Obviously this works best if you have a slow cooker, but it's really low-effort to make. Just follow one of the recipes below, then when it's done you can portion it out to the containers.
https://www.thechunkychef.com/slow-cooker-creamy-white-chicken-chili/ - I followed this one. Took maybe 15 minutes to throw everything into the pot. Don't forget to add the half & half and the cream cheese later on.
Baked Ham and Cheese Party Sandwiches
I had these at a friend's party and liked them enough that I wanted to make some for myself. It's basically a ham+cheese sandwich with a mixture of Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and butter on top. The recipe recommends covering them with aluminum foil, but my containers didn't have high enough sides to do it. I paired it with some canned skillet corn or Bush's baked beans (because those were the first cans I grabbed from the cupboard)
Hamburger Cupcakes (Beef pop'ems)
Both my mom and grandmother cooked these often when I was a kid, so I grew up loving them. They're super simple and easy to make a lot of. You just brown some beef in a skillet, pour a lot of BBQ sauce and brown sugar on them, then put that into crescent roll dough in a cupcake tin. I paired them with some creamed potato/corn soup for some variety.
Spaghetti and meatballs
Fairly self-explanatory. I poured a lot of sauce on top because I knew at work I wouldn't have extra sauce handy if I wanted more. I made the meatballs myself from ground beef and some steak seasoning.
I really wasn't a huge fan of this because after a few days the pasta seemed really dry. I'm just not a fan of reheated pasta.
Teriyaki Chicken with rice and broccoli
This might be the healthiest and most complicated meal prep I've made. My roommate had a rice cooker, so the rice was easy to make. The broccoli was steamed, which I learned is really easy (boil some water in a covered skillet then add broccoli for 5 mins or so). You can read about the chicken in the recipe, it really isn't too hard to make and is fairly tasty.
Tip: Don't make too much of this. I was super tired of this meal by the time I ate them all and haven't cooked it since.
Tip for rice: You can buy microwavable bags of rice at the store that are cooked in 90 seconds
Chicken Crescent Squares
I realize the picture above aren't squares or crescents or anything. That's because I was cheap and bought normal biscuits instead of crescent rolls - don't do that, it's a lot harder. Anyways, these are filled with a chicken and cream cheese mixture that is really tasty, and they're a nice filling size. These were too big to fit in my meal prep container so I just put them in zip-lock bags.
Note: They aren't supposed to look like the above images.
A lot of the meal prep recipes you find online will make some complicated and healthy sides, often with rice and some seared vegetables. I considered making those, but then I decided to go the easy route: Canned items. Canned soups, vegetables (corn/beans), and other canned things work great. You just open the can, pour it into 3-4 containers and you're good.
Also, I got 6 small Tupperware type containers to use for sides that don't need to be microwaved. I typically put grapes or strawberries in them.
Hot sides (Sides to refrigerate and then microwave before eating)
Bush's baked beans
Corn chowder soup
Frozen vegetables (portion them out - it doesn't really matter if they're in the steamfresh bag or not)
Strawberries (portion into zip-lock bags)
Grapes (portion into zip-lock bags)
Energy bars or nutrient bars
I also section out crackers, chips, and pretzels into bags so I can easily bring two to work each day. I try to prepare enough that I only have to package them up once a month or so.