Dinner is solved with advanced meal prep

Published 7:01 am Sunday, September 3, 2017

By Megan Groh

Hy-Vee Dietitian

When I was a child, my family would eat together each night at the table. It was the belief that gathering kids and loved ones at the dinner table would build a stronger family and successful kids.

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As a single adult, I understand the struggles that come on Tuesday night at 5 p.m., when you’re struggling to quickly put together a meal using what’s in the refrigerator, and that allows you to get done in time to get other chores accomplished. I often imagine the struggles that come with doing all that with the addition of kids.

One trick is weekend meal prep.  Taking just a few hours on Sunday afternoon or evening for advanced prep helps eliminate stress on weeknights and lets me enjoy my evenings. Here are tips for weekend meal prep:

Wash and prep fruits and vegetables 

The peppers and mushrooms in our featured Moo Shu Turkey Wrap recipe can be washed and sliced, and the cabbage shredded and portioned.  Zucchini noodles for a pasta recipe can be spiraled.  Cut up vegetables such as  carrots, broccoli and cauliflower to add to lunches, have kids snack on while prepping dinner, or microwave as a side dish for weeknight dinners.  Prep berries, kiwi and melons to use as side dishes during the week.

Review refrigerator stash

Quesadillas are an effective way to use up leftover vegetables and meats.  Simply dice them into similarly sized pieces for easy assembly on a weeknight.  Fruits that are starting to get soft are perfect for using in smoothies.

Prep protein

I love the idea of cooking bulk meats all at once and using them in multiple recipes.  For example, several pounds of Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey can be cooked at once, portioned, stored and later reheated for use in pasta sauces, tacos, omelets and other family favorites during the week.

Cook grains

Pre-cooking grains like quinoa or couscous or rice will shorten the time it takes to get dinner to the table on weeknights.  Pastas can also be cooked ahead and warmed for use on a weeknight.  When you’re ready to use the pasta, boil a small amount of water, and dip the pasta in a colander into the boiling water for 30 seconds.

Make sauces ahead of time.  Prep sauces ahead of time, storing them in a Mason jar or plastic container for dinner later in the week.

Weekend meal prep doesn’t necessarily mean making the entire recipe; it’s about tackling the parts of food prep that will make the daily task of getting dinner on the table easier.  By following these tips, you’ll go into the week feeling organized.

Moo Shu Turkey Wraps

Moo Shu Turkey Wraps

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

All You Need

•1 (16-ounce) package Jennie-O® Lean Ground Turkey

•8 ounces white or button mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced

•2 tsp minced garlic

•2 tsp minced ginger root

•1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips

•2 cups Hy-Vee Coleslaw Salad Mix

•½ cup hoisin sauce

•½ cup Hy-Vee Sweet & Sour Sauce

•6 Hy-Vee Fajita Size Whole Wheat Tortillas

All You Do

Cook ground turkey as specified on package.  Always cook to well-done, 165 degrees as measured by a meat thermometer.