Meal planning can be a real burden when you don’t do it right. I’ve done that to myself too many times! I want to make meals with beef, chicken and pork…and quinoa and rice and pasta…and all the vegetables. That means I have to food prep 10 different base ingredients, which means I spend way too many hours in the kitchen.
Even though I love to cook, I don’t really like to do 3-4 hours worth on Sunday. Especially during football season! The best solution is to plan your meals around just a few basic ingredients. This week I’m focusing on rice and chicken.
I realize that eating the same exact foods every day for a whole week can get really boring. And honestly, isn’t necessarily the best nutritional practice. We eat leftovers, and I don’t think that’s a big deal. But you’re likely missing out on several nutrients if you’re eating the same meal every day for lunch or dinner. The idea behind planning with a few basic ingredients is making those ingredients in bulk, but having an arsenal of easy recipes to toss in healthier sides to make a balanced meal!
As a reminder, I generally plan out only dinner these days. Breakfast is usually a shake or eggs. Lunch is either leftovers, sandwiches or brought in at work. Snacks are usually fresh fruit or veggies, nuts, yogurt, or the occasional baked good.
Check out this week’s meal plan with rice and crockpot shredded chicken as the main ingredients.
Monday — Healthy chicken and broccoli casserole
Tuesday — Black and White Bean Chicken Chili
Wednesday — Leftovers/Soup and sandwiches
Thursday — Chicken Fried Rice
Friday — Shredded Chicken Tacos with Mexican Rice Skillet
What and When to Prep: ‘Time in kitchen’ is figured up by the amount of time I’ll actually spend prepping or paying attention to something. Doesn’t include cook time, because that is multi-tasking time.
Sunday morning – Complete meals for Monday and Tuesday. Total time in kitchen: 45 minutes
- Make the shredded crockpot chicken. For all these meals for two people plus accounting for leftovers, I would make about 3—3.5 pounds of chicken breast. Plan 6-8 hours depending on if the chicken is thawed or frozen. Time in kitchen: 8-10 minutes
- Cook 2 cups of brown rice (measured 2 dry cups). I use a rice cooker which makes this task super simple. Time in kitchen: 2 minutes
- Make the chicken broccoli casserole this afternoon. With the chicken and rice already cooked, the only other ingredient to cook will be broccoli, since I’m using frozen and not fresh. Everything else is mixing stuff together and popping it in the oven. Time in kitchen: 15 minutes.
- IMake the Black and White Bean Chicken Chili. With the chicken cooked, I can sautee onions then everything else gets dumped into a crockpot. Time in kitchen: 15 minutes.
- Hard-boil some eggs for the fried rice later in the week. Time in kitchen: 2 minutes.
We will have to prep and cut the ingredients to put into the fried rice mix, which may take 15 minutes or so. Since we have pre-cooked chicken and rice, a lot of time is knocked off for preparation. I also plan to use hard-boiled eggs instead of separately cooked egg whites and yolks. Cooking everything in a pan will take about 15 minutes. Time in kitchen: 30 minutes.
Snacks this week will include:
- Oranges, grapes and kiwi
- Cashews and almonds
- Blueberry muffins
- Chobani yogurts
- Carrots and guacamole
This breakdown makes the week pretty simple!