Meal Prepping Part 1

56970978_2094292114204913_2810872094538072064_nLife can be crazy sometimes. And I do not know about y’all, but I am not always in the mood to be in the kitchen at the end of the day (or first thing in the morning or noontime). I am quick to find a snack, but like everything else, if it is not easy to get to, I will opt for the chips, or cookies, or other fantastically unhealthy thing available!

Many of you know I have had colorectal cancer for a little over three and a half years. There are many days my husband, Pepper, and I do not feel like making a healthy meal. A lot of nights, we grab a meal out, or make something quick. And let me just say, Pepper didn’t get a Valentine’s gift of an apron that says “I kiss better than I cook” for nothing!57133739_309910466353455_4927529602613510144_n

But what I know about myself it that if it is pre-prepared and ready for the oven or the microwave, I will eat at home and reasonably healthy

When I was first diagnosed, we were given money to hire a meal service out of Starkville. They would prepare five complete meals each week based on the Paleo and Whole 30 diets. They closed their business and we have been trying to replicate the process at our house since then. For me, it is harder than it looks! My cousin, Brian Pearson’s wife, Jen is GREAT at the traditional meal prep that you see on Pinterest. She is into healthy eating and fitness and this is a passion for her. I hope I can pull that off one day! #GOALS

My cousin, Lisa Woods Pruitt, said she preps soup for the week. She is a teacher and she has just graduated from Mississippi State University with her graduate degree that she has been doing in her “spare” time (as if that really exists) and while taking care of her husband and 13-year-old son. She loves knowing there is something they can warm up quickly during the week.

As for my house, I do general prep work for the week if I have energy on the weekends. Chemo knocks me out. Sometimes longer than others. When I have a little energy, I try to do as much as possible to prepare my house, food and life for the upcoming week.56679470_1965837903542673_2126279506128797696_n

Now, for me, this all begins with planning my meals for the week. It makes life easier. It does not always work out, but at least there is something in the house Pepper and I can put together for a meal. Usually, my meal prep day is Sunday afternoon. I am not sure why, but it goes back to working with the energy available. I need to have a second prep day on Wednesday to make things flow well, but it is a work in progress.

So, in our imaginary world where every night works out perfectly and one of us cooks something at home, our week would look something like this:

  • MONDAY: Roast beef tips with carrots, onions, potatoes and cream of mushroom soup in the crockpot;
  • TUESDAY: Meatloaf with sautéed veggies;
  • WEDNESDAY: Parmesan Chicken with roasted carrots and green beans; or Grilled chicken salad;
  • THURSDAY: Tuna patties with sautéed veggies;
  • FRIDAY: Meatball casserole with sautéed veggies;
  • SATURDAY: Grilled Chicken strips or hamburgers with sautéed veggies or “date night” when I can go back out in public without my blood count numbers going down due to a cold;
  • SUNDAY: Lunch and dinner at my mother-in-law’s house (or leftovers in my case) or veggie soup.

Having a meal plan also helps with grocery shopping. These days, Pepper is doing ALL of the grocery shopping and having a meal plan makes his job easier.56899579_2118118471606705_7855036091034763264_n

For breakfast, we plan on scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage, when we are out of Breakfast Casserole. Pepper eats lunch with his mom on days when we are at home. I will have leftovers, soup or salad.

So with that in mind, meal prep day begins by boiling eggs for stuffed eggs that we eat for high protein snacks. I also prepare my favorite, strawberry sugar-free Jell-O gelatin in four small containers for a sweet treat. I also try to keep fresh fruit and one of my favorite brands of Greek yogurt, Yoplait 100 Whips in Vanilla Cupcake – I pretend it is ice cream! My friend, Shea Allen, said her mom would always told her yogurt was ice cream as she was growing up. So funny and healthy!

I will chop a head of iceburg and/or lettuces for salads throughout the week, and allow it to soak in salted water for 30 minutes to an hour.56344576_1154005998123087_9205918200296898560_n

Next, I brown the sausage for the breakfast casserole. There are many variations of a breakfast casserole recipe. This is mine:


1 package of ground sausage

1 cup whipping cream

Cheddar cheese

Swiss cheese

12 eggs


Beat 12 eggs and add whipping cream. Mix together. Brown sausage. Cover the bottom of two pie dishes with Cheddar cheese. Layer the browned sausage. Then add the egg-whipping cream mixture. Top the casseroles with Swiss cheese and sprinkle paprika over each casserole. The original recipe includes spinach and sautéed onions, but I do not want “onion breath” in the mornings and Pepper doesn’t like spinach. I wrap up one casserole and place it in the refrigerator for later this week. I place the other pie plate in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow it to cool for five to 10 minutes to “set” before serving.

We place it into the refrigerator after it has cooled for breakfast the next morning. We will divide a pie pan into four large pieces, place one on a plate and microwave for two and a half to three minutes or until the cheese melts. It fills you up!

After the breakfast casseroles are in the frig and oven, I will begin browning hamburger meat for my beef and veggie soup. I will also make hamburger patties and place them in the freezer to take out later in the week.56520127_310547946297461_6399810190857732096_n


Small pkg. of ground chuck or lean ground round, browned

Tomatoes (I use tomatoes my mom cans each summer), two cans of juice

Lima beans, about 1 cup

Corn, about 1 cup56835707_412479652643349_3362919196169076736_n

Brown hamburger meat and drain any grease. Usually, all of the veggies come from the summer garden and canned or frozen just after picking. When that can’t happen, I improvise. Add the tomato juice and the frozen limas, and cook on the stovetop for 20 minutes, then add frozen corn and cook for a final 10 minutes. I like to prepare this soup in the cast iron pan I cook the hamburger meat in. To me, it adds an extra layer of flavor.56312121_392134044711639_4653230562771730432_n

When we do not eat this immediately, I allow the soup to cool in the pan and place it in small wide-mouth canning jars and keep them in the refrigerator until we have one for lunch. This usually makes three or four jars. When we have the soup for lunch, we microwave it in the jar (with the lid off, of course) for two and a half or three minutes. Use the lid as a coaster for the jar.


Another lunch or substitute supper meal can be the Grilled Chicken Salad. I make Ranch dressing from the Hidden Valley Ranch recipe. I sauté Tyson boneless, skinless five or six chicken tenderloins in the cast iron skillet. I cut up the chicken in the pan into small bite-sized pieces, and finish cooking. While the chicken is cooking, I prepare two dinner plates with a bottom layer of lettuce, Texas Toast croutons, Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits or cooked bacon crumbled, shredded Cheddar cheese and topped with hot, steaming chicken. We love it served with the Ranch dressing, this is SUPER QUICK and EASY if we just do not want to do anything – which happens a lot these days!

Typically, I will prep the crockpot inner container with the roast beef tips, carrots, onions and cream of mushroom. Sometimes I will cut up the potatoes and add them with the skins on to the crock pot dish, or I peel and dice them up for mashed potatoes and other meals throughout the week. I LOVE roast beef tips over mashed potatoes. YUM!

By this time, I completely run out of steam!

Ideally, I would have a second meal prep day on either Wednesday or Thursday, where a make up the tuna patty mix, the meatball casserole, the Parmesan Chicken and the meatball casserole. I will work on that and get back with y’all!

Do you have a dish you prep for a busy week? Comment below, let me know at my Facebook page or email me at





See this column in the April 7, 2019 edition of The Winona Times.





#FRIDAYFOOD Everyone’s favorite holiday food — dressing

I love my momma’s chicken dressing. When I think of the holidays, I think of her dressing. I can almost make it. But I am getting something wrong. It is close, but not quite the same. I think it was the water that you boil the chicken with. Who would have thought water would make such a big difference, but she loads hers down with celery and onions and carrots. She doesn’t put any of those veggies in the actual dressing, but strains them for the broth. It is all about the broth, apparently. My problem was not enough veggies in the water for the broth. But, I will keep trying!

I asked Facebook and Twitter friends and followers to share their favorite dressing recipe, and there was a LOT of responses. Everyone seems to LOVE dressing during the holidays.

Marsha Woods is like most of us, learning to cook by watching our mom and grandmothers. Continue reading

#FRIDAYFOOD (A little early) It’s Turkey Time! #HAPPYTHANKSGIVING

It is TURKEY TIME! What an incredible time to get the family around the table and give thanks for all your blessings! Even if it has been a tough year (and some years are like that) Thanksgiving as a special time to enjoy your family.

There have been years I was in the hospital and missed all of the fun, and other years I had a hard time enjoying myself and others (mostly due to my own or very touchy personal issues), and other years that I have had a BIG time. Last year was one of those tough Thanksgivings. But this year, I am planning on having a BIG time!

I have always taken the holidays for granted. Up until just a few years ago, I just assumed the holidays was one big food fest for everyone. But that is not the case. A few years ago, it hit me like a ton of bricks. When I returned from Thanksgiving adventures (with plenty more food gatherings in the following days) there were some of my coworkers who moved here for a job and their families were far away. They didn’t experience the wildness of “Great Uncle so-n-so” or “momma’s dressing.” They ate a Thanksgiving meal with those around them, usually a group of friends or their own little family. Maybe they ate with a church family.

And then there are children who are not surrounded by family who make the holidays special for them. Continue reading


It is so hard to believe the holidays are upon us. I guess I say that every year. But Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and around our house, we are discussing when, where and who is making what.
As usual, we will have lunch on Thanksgiving Day with Aunt Margie Pepper, and she will have a house full of food, before everyone brings something to add to the meal. There will be all the traditional favorites, and a few unusual items, such as Asparagus Casserole and scalloped potatoes.
Then either Thursday or Friday night (it is still up for discussion, depending on how many are attending the Egg Bowl), we will have Thanksgiving Dinner at my parents house in Stewart.

Continue reading

#FRIDAYFOOD A great bowl of #chili for the Fall

I will admit, I was a picky eater growing up. And while I am trying to expand my “gourmet palette,” it took a while to like chili. Can I just say, chili beans. I didn’t like them in any way, shape or form.
A few years ago, I worked as a food editor for a newspaper. I LOVED it, but a lot of people went to a lot of trouble to fix food for me. I was compelled by reasonably good manners (and let’s just say I had to say that to myself every time) to eat what was prepared for me. (The voice of my mother and both grandmothers resonating through my head.) Eventually, I had to eat a bowl of chili. At first, I just picked around the beans. After the next couple of times, I like it. I do not cook it, but I have grown to LOVE IT! (This is also from a girl who would not eat pizza until high school.) Continue reading