Luke and I are always busy. He works full time and is a full time student. I work two jobs, am a full time student, and hold two officer positions in Phi Theta Kappa. By the time we get home at night, neither of us want to cook or pack meals for the next day. So we decided to start meal prepping. Every Sunday, we’ll make meals for the next week. Rather than having to pack a lunch, we can just grab one and go!
I decided to try my hand at meal prepping for the first time. I did a TON of research on the shelf life of the meals and the best recipes. After scouring Pinterest, I decided on three meals: mason jar oatmeal (via Clean Food Crush), a mediterranean pasta salad (via The Healthy Life), and a Mexican quinoa salad (via Dear Crissy). I loved the mason jar idea so much that I decided to put all of the meals in mason jars (plus, they’re a lot cheaper than lunch containers). I made these a few weeks ago, and haven’t had time to post this until now. I also have been slacking on my meal prep. Sunday will be the bid meal prep day in my house.
I have an obsession with mason jars. I even put them on my Christmas list (and my parents got me a ton!). I now have an addiction to mason jars. I guess it could be worse.
I started with making the pasta salad. I used fresh chicken breasts instead of pre-made, since we try to eat as preservative and chemical-free as possible. I baked the unseasoned chicken in the oven for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. The chicken was for both the pasta salad and the quinoa salad. The pasta salad was so easy to make. Simply cook the pasta, chop up your chicken and vegetables, and mix together! I omitted the tomatoes since Luke and I both think they are gross. I also used an organic Italian dressing from Target instead of the oil.
After eating a jar of pasta salad and finding that the pasta had soaked up all of the dressing, I bought little plastic dressing containers made by Sistema. Their containers are amazing. I put some Italian dressing in each container and dropped into the top of the mason jar. That way, we can add the dressing prior to eating.
Next came the quinoa salad. It was also super easy: cook the quinoa, add the other ingredients, and combine. We did run into one problem, however. Luke and I have been discovering little necessities for our home at the worst time (like when the toilet got clogged and we realized we never bought a plunger). I went to open the can of black beans, only to find that we didn’t have a can opener. My heroic boyfriend came to my rescue and gave me a heart attack, stabbing the can with a (very sharp) chef’s knife to open it. He somehow succeed without a trip to the hospital, thank goodness!
Luke took a jar of the quinoa to work and texted me “oh my goodness this stuff is amazing!” The recipe stated to eat it cold, but Luke and I both liked it better warmed up. He just took off the lid and popped the jar in the microwave. Our only complaint was that it needed a little more seasoning (we tend to overseason our food). Next time, I’ll add more spice and possibly make some kind of sauce to mix into it.
My favorite meal I made was the oatmeal. It was so quick and easy. I bought freeze dried fruit according to the recipes listed and made three different kinds of oatmeal: mixed berry, apples & cinnamon, and monkey mix. The mixed berries was a bag of freeze dried raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. The monkey mix is banana chips, chocolate, and coconut. I measured a half cup of oatmeal and a quarter cup of fruit into each jar. I think next time, I’ll do half and half instead.
The jars were just too cute. I put them on our coffee bar so we can use the Keurig to prepare the oatmeal. All you do is fill the jar with hot water and let it sit for ten minutes!
After a very successful first experience meal prepping, I am excited to find more recipes and make more awesome lunches. My next project is freezer meals so we don’t have to cook when we get home.