Most of us love to cook but there also comes a point when we either don’t have time or simply don’t feel like it. That’s why cooking one large serving of protein at the beginning of the week can come in handy throughout the week. It will save you time and the tips below will offer you suggestions on how to change it up so it doesn’t feel like you’re eating the exact same meal all week.

Your protein doesn’t have to be a meat-based product. Try cooking up a pot of beans and repurposing them throughout the week. If you are vegetarian or vegan, these would also apply to the “impossible” line of products and tofu.

Cook a large batch of protein, based on your family’s needs. For a family of 2, this might only mean cooking 1-2 pounds of meat. For a family with 3 teenage boys, you might need to cook a little more than that. Most cooked meat will safely last 3-4 days in the refrigerator under proper storage conditions. Once you have your protein, here are some creative ways to use it.

Use it atop a salad or crunchy slaw
In a lettuce wrap
As a taco or burrito
In a bowl, served with brown rice, your favorite grain (farro or quinoa are excellent!), or cauliflower rice
Use it in a soup
Sautee veggies and add in protein toward the end to warm it up
Use it to stuff veggies (think stuffed bell peppers or stuffed squash)
Eat it atop a slice of veggies (use cucumber for crackers and top with chicken)
Make it into a pasta dish; You can use whole wheat spaghetti, lentil or veggie pasta (zoodles!)
Add veggies and protein to a baking dish, sprinkle with a little cheese, and bake as a casserole

Spice it Up!
Try different kinds of sauces to change the flavor each time you eat. Maybe you made taco meat, so the first time you eat your taco salad, use yogurt and guacamole, then make a taco bowl with a tomatillo sauce for a new zing.

Think Outside the Box
If you make a basic protein, with only basic seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder), your possibilities are unlimited. If you have chicken, you can add hot sauce to make it taste like buffalo chicken, make a chicken salad, or fajitas. You can drastically transform your protein based on the condiments you add to it.

When You Get Tired
Maybe you don’t want to eat the same protein all week, I get it. You can still put your pre-cooked protein in the freezer and save time later. Portion your protein into manageable sizes for your family (½ pound, 1 pound, whatever works for you), and freeze multiple bags of it. Next time, you don’t know what to cook (or don’t want to), you simply have to thaw your pre-package AND pre-cooked bag of protein!

💻Written with ❤️ by Coach Amanda Reynolds