How I made 5 meals in 1 hour

meal-prep

By: Ali Brown, RD, LD

One common thing people tell me is that having healthy, homemade meals is inconvenient and time-consuming. While this can be true, it doesn’t have to be! I want to share with you how I took 1 hour of my day, and had 5 healthy meals available for the week. You can certainly double what I did to make 10 meals, or quadruple it to have meals for your family.

Below you will see exact amounts for the ingredients that I used, but I want to stress that these amounts can be changed to accommodate your taste preferences and availability of foods. This menu is designed to be paleo-friendly, but you can easily add non-paleo items such as cheese and sour cream to accommodate your personal eating habits. I have made suggestions under each recipe for ways to make them approved for SHAPE ReClaimed.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground meat of choice (the leaner the better)
  • 1 large piece of romaine
  • Spinach (2-1/4 cups, or use 2 cups of shredded cabbage)
  • Seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 Tablespoon basil
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
  • 4 slices avocado
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 whole + ½ cup diced bell pepper
  • ¾ cup diced tomato
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 jalapeno or about 5 canned jalapeno slices
  • 8 black olives
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil

 

Let’s get started! We are making:

  1. Tacos
  2. Sloppy Joes
  3. Stuffed peppers
  4. Taco salad
  5. “Spaghetti”

A time-saving tip that will help here is to dice or cut all of your veggies when you bring them home from the store. This not only helps put these meals together quicker, but can also make grabbing veggies for a snack a lot easier.

 

Meat

The only protein source we are using is ground meat – I used beef, but you can use turkey, chicken, or pork if you prefer. I technically use 1-1/4 pounds of meat, but I am browning 2 pounds to make it easy. Once the meat is browned, add 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 teaspoons seasoned salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Simmer the meat for about 10 minutes, or until most of the water is gone.

I bought 4 pounds of meat and set 2 aside to make a meatloaf. I put the meatloaf together while the meat was browning and it was in the oven while I was putting the meals together.

 

Tacos

Not than any of these meals are difficult to put together, but this one may be the easiest to put together. Simply tear a large piece of romaine off the head and stuff it with meat, salsa, and whatever veggies you like best! I used 4oz ground meat, 1/4 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup onion, 4 black olives, and 2 Tablespoons of salsa. For reheating purposes, it is best to store the meat in a separate container than the veggies.

Though romaine is a great substitute for a tortilla, you can also use a baked bell pepper or a napa cabbage wrap!

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, omit the black olives and make sure the salsa is homemade or free of “natural flavors” and sugar.

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Sloppy Joes

Step 1 in creating this meal is to make your ground meat “sloppy”. I do this by sautéing 1/4 cup of onion and 1/4 cup of bell pepper in 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1 teaspoon cumin until hot. Add 4oz ground beef to the mixture and let it simmer to soak up the sauce. Add more tomato sauce if you like yours a little more messy.

I serve sloppy joes inside a “baked” sweet potato. Since I’m lazy, I cook my potato in the microwave. There are great directions here but basically, all you need to do is wash your sweet potato, poke holes in it with a fork, wrap it in a wet paper towel, and microwave it for 6 minutes, flipping halfway through. If you have a big sweet potato you’ll need to microwave it for longer.

For reheating purposes, it is best to cut the sweet potato into smaller pieces (or mash it) before serving.

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, sauté your veggies in chicken broth or balsamic vinegar. Omit the sweet potato and replace it with sautéed bell peppers, spiralized zucchini, or riced cauliflower.

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Stuffed Peppers

Yum! One of my favorite dishes. Sauté 1/4 cup onion and a little bit of garlic in 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil until the onion is translucent. On low heat mix in 1/4 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup chopped spinach, 4 ounces of ground meat, and 1 Tablespoon of basil until hot. If you aren’t following paleo guidelines, brown rice or quinoa is a great addition to this mix.

Take the top off of the pepper and stuff the mixture inside (if you have too much filling, set it aside and serve with the pepper). Put the pepper in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Tip: If your pepper is too tall or wide for your storage container, cut it up and eat a slice with every bite of meat.

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, sauté your onion in chicken broth or balsamic vinegar.

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Taco Salad

Yet another easy recipe! Simply put 2 cups of washed spinach (or lettuce/cabbage of your choice) in a container. Top with 4 ounces of ground meat and your favorite veggies. I used 1/4 cup diced tomato, 1/4 cup onion, 2 slices of avocado, 4 black olives, 1/4 cup bell pepper, and 5 slices of canned jalapenos. Use ¼ cup (or more) of salsa as dressing. If you like a little crunch on your salad, add a few crushed nut thin crackers.

Tip: Store your meat in a separate container to make reheating easy!

** To make this approved for SHAPE ReClaimed, omit the black olive and avocado (depending on your practitioner recommendations).

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“Spaghetti”

Ah! A great classic recipe! Simply spiralize a zucchini (I got my spiralizer for $4.99 on Amazon) and heat in the microwave for 1 minute (2 minutes if you’re going to eat right away). Top with ½ cup tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 4 ounces of ground meat. If you’re going to eat this right away, heat up the tomato sauce and crushed red pepper in a pot.

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So there you have it – 5 meals in about an hour! If you have more time, you can pull some of the meat aside prior to cooking and make a meatloaf, burgers, or meatballs!