Menu planning is so important for keeping our budget and stress level in check during the week. I love using some of my favorite easy meals to create a budget-friendly menu that is also delicious. While I may like to spend time using some fancy techniques and elegant recipes at other times, weeknight meals are often simple but flavorful production I can manage in a few short minutes. This is a great example of a week of meal prep ideas that anyone can manage.
7 Ridiculously Easy Meal Prep Ideas for the Week
I love taking one main ingredient and using it multiple ways to stretch our budget, and give my family a great meal every night of the week. These ideas are perfect for using some items to make them go farther! I use 3 basic meats and can transform them into 7 meals easily. A beef or pork roast, ground meat, and a whole chicken.
Main ingredient cooking
For this week of menu ideas, I suggest using 3 specific meat options and one dry bean as your main protein that can be used throughout the week in different recipes. They are versatile and easy to adapt to your family preferences. I am also going to recommend using a Crockpot or Pressure Cooker or an instant pot (like this one I recently purchased) to prepare many of the recipes as that is a huge time saver for a busy family.
- Large Pork or beef roast
- 3 Pounds Ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken)
- A whole chicken
- 1 pound dry pinto beans or black beans
For the roast and whole chicken, you can easily cook in your Crockpot, pressure cooker, or in the oven. Slow roasting seals in flavor and keeps you from being over a stove for a long period each evening.
For the ground meat, some cook in the Crockpot, but I prefer to take the half hour and cook on the stove top all at once and then just divide into portions for the 3 recipes I list here.
For the dry beans, I much prefer cooking in the Crockpot so they get tender and full of flavor without sticking or burning.
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These 3 meats can then be transformed into the following recipes to be served with appropriate side dishes that are easy to prep. Things like frozen vegetables, baked potatoes, and rice are all great choices. Frozen vegetables can be heated in under 10 minutes. Baked potatoes and rice can be made in batches early in the week and refrigerated for use as needed all week long. Salads can also be prepped in advance. All saving you time throughout the week.
Day 1: Slow roasted beef or pork roast with favorite seasonings and sides.
Day 2: Shredded meat tacos using leftover slow roasted meat and appropriate seasonings and sides.
Day 3: Ground meat stuffed peppers using 1/3 ground meat and favorite filling recipe (rice, breadcrumbs, veggies are all great options)
Day 4: Mexican casserole using 1/3 ground meat and ½ cooked beans layered with seasonings, cheese, tortillas, and favorite “taco” style toppings.
Day 5: Chili using 1/3 ground meat and ½ cooked beans. Use favorite chili recipe or chili seasoning mix.
Day 6: Roasted chicken. Serve ½ chicken alongside vegetables or starch of choice.
Day 7: Chicken noodle casserole. Shred remaining ½ chicken and add to a casserole including vegetables, noodles, and a simple gravy or cream sauce.
While individual recipes may vary, this shows you an easy way to take a few simple ingredients and stretch them over the course of your week for great meals. You can use tons of options with any protein source to create similar simple menu plans that utilize your Crockpot or pressure cooker to make your weeknight meals easier to accomplish.
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Also feel free to let us know your tips in comments 🙂