Guest post: How to prep a week’s worth of dinners in 1 hour!

Yes, you read that right, a week’s worth of dinners  prepped in 1 HOUR!  I am excited to have my friend Renee, from Living, Laughing, and Loving, sharing her amazing menu planning and prep method today.  I think you will be inspired!  And it could help you simplify your time and life as well.


Thank you, Christina,  for the chance to come share my obsession with you all!

I’m Renee, and I like to blog about a little bit of everything…

from my organizing and decorating fun and the escapades of my three wild ones, to my weekly Menu Monday post where I share that week’s adventure in prepping all my dinners in less than an hour!  I also have weird amounts of excitement delving into lots of cool ways to Beautify your Blog, DIY Style!

Want the low down on this meal prep planning?

Basically I give up about an hour Sunday afternoon whilst my boys are snoozing and my girl is otherwise occupied, and in return I have all my dinners for the week… in the fridge and ready to go!

Is this plan something YOU could do too?


If you read my blog long enough you’ll see that I’m not anywhere close to being an amazing chef. If I can make it work… ANYONE can!

I learned all about making 5 Dinners in 1 Hour from Michelle back in January of 2011.  Most of these ideas are straight from her!  I’m so thrilled that she is now one of my sponsors! She offers a paid subscription to her recipes that have things all laid out super simply.  She also posts free recipes and tips on her blog that are definitely worth following.

The best part about this plan is that your meals are covered and kept "fresh" in the FRIDGE not the freezer!  At dinnertime you just pop one out and in the oven and you are good to go.

I get LOTS of raised eyebrows and dubious looks about keeping the week’s meals in the fridge.  I check the  date on the meat I buy and try to make sure I’ll be eating it before that date, but honestly, it is just a SELL BY date, so a day or two past that is okay in my opinion.

But if you are worried about it you can do what I do.  I plan freezer meals for Friday and Saturday since those are usually pretty flexible days for us and it is hard to know WHAT we’ll be doing at dinner time.  If we end up eating out or eating with friends or family then it’s no biggie and that meal will just stay in the freezer and be re-allotted for another meal, another week.  

piece of the puzzle
Doubling easy meals during your normal weekly meal prep to build up a freezer stash little by little
I have heard plans touted of just spending all day one day a month cooking meals to make a freezer stash, but a whole day of cooking does NOT appeal to me.  This way I’m only investing a teensy extra bit of time during my weekly prep since I already have all the ingredients and utensils out.  
By following that plan, I have built up a huge freezer stash.  Enough so that just about every week I am pulling one or even TWO meals straight out of the freezer.  I’ve even had weeks coming off of vacation or the holidays where I’ve pulled the entire week’s meals from the freezer. 
It can be done, and it’s not hard! 

I have never been much of a cook actually, but through this experiment I have found myself enjoying cooking more and more. Maybe because I am taking all the stress out of the process.  I’m choosing to cook at a time more convenient for me and my family.  If your kids are anything like mine, then you know that the "witching hour" is those late afternoon hours right before dinnertime where everyone is bored and hungry and GROUCHY!

I have 3 kids, and my time is very short each day. At mealtime there may be a host of things that arise to get in the way of traditional, normal meal prep.

I think this is something everyone should at least TRY!  It has transformed our dinnertime.   I am not stressing {as much}. We are not eating CHICKEN every other night anymore, and we have cut down our eating out drastically.  Changing the quality of our meals also somehow motivated us to change the quality of our dinnertime experience. We went from eating in the Living Room most nights {I know.  How bad is that?} to eating around the table.  What a concept.

It is definitely a no brainer to me.  Giving up an hour on Sunday afternoon gives me my dinners for the week in the fridge and ready to go.

Uh,   So. Totally. Worth. It.


  • Most any recipe can be almost completely prepped ahead of time in order to save tons of time each night.  I share my meal plan with recipes each week, so be sure to follow me for lots of recipe inspiration.  PLUS, you can subscribe to Michelle’s plan and have your recipes and grocery lists laid out for you completely.

    Work in stages.  I do each stage on a different day so it’s not an overwhelming task.
  • First, plan your menu for the week, and create your grocery list.  {I do mine Friday, and I got my free menu plan printable here. I love that it has the menu plan on one side and the grocery list on the other.}
  • Make a list of every ingredient and utensil you will need.   I do this on my menu plan sheet on Fridays as I’m creating my grocery list.
  • Do your grocery shopping, and you will be ready to get started the next day with your meal prep.  
  • Now it’s Meal Prep Time! Let’s set the timer!  Competing against the timer helps me work quickly and turns the whole process into something of a game. {Whatever I can do to trick myself into thinking it’s fun helps. Yes, I know that’s sad.} I also like to turn on some tunes for some extra motivation.  🙂
  • Gather all of your ingredients and utensils on the counter.  Foil and Ziploc bags are your allies here.  I love Michelle’s tip of using Ziploc bags to store meals.  She says to squish and mix around the  ingredients right in the bag thereby saving the dirtying of one more bowl and spoon!  If it works, why not, I say!

  • Follow the recipes usually up until the point that the food is put in the oven.  At that point, cover your dishes and pop ’em in the fridge. I like to label each meal so I don’t have to uncover and try to remember what each one is through the week.  Whatever meal you doubled goes to the freezer.  Use freezer bags or those handy foil pans to store your freezer meals and be sure to label with the name, date, and cooking instructions.   I keep a running list in my family notebook of all the meals in the freezer so I know exactly what yumminess I have in there.
Easy peasy! 
I am totally SOLD on this method. 

It has brought a wonderful change to our family dynamic.

Better meals each week, all week… a priceless thing!

Click here to catch up all my 5 dinner 1 hour escapades and don’t forget to follow along here or on facebook to catch more of my weekly meal prep journey and what yummy recipes I’m using!!



Thanks, Renee!  Isn’t that AMAZING!! Smile

I have tried this menu plan and it really does work.  I just struggle with being organized enough to actually plan a menu ahead of time in the FIRST place much less be ready to prep it all in 1 hour.  So maybe when I get better organized and catch up a bit on life, I can give it another try.  Smile  Planning weekly menus is on my 2012 goal list so I PLAN on it happening soon! 

What do you do to organize your families meals?  Do you plan a menu each week?



  1. Thanks, Christina, for the chance to guest post!! 🙂 Love to talk about how it has change my cooking! 🙂
    Renee @ Living, Laughing, & Loving recently posted..What to do when your Blog is Disabled by GoogleMy Profile

    • Thanks for posting, Renee! Think you inspired a friend of mine (she emailed me instead of commenting) and I sent her the link where she could just view all your Monday Menu posts.

      She was concerned they were all casseroles, but honestly you don’t do a lot of casseroles at all! 🙂

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