When the triplets were little, my second oldest son was in high school and on the football team. This made for some interesting evenings and meal times. I tried to find way to cut down meal preparation without relying on junk or fast food, and to save money at the same time.
One of the things that saves money is to buy in bulk. One of the things that saves time is to prepare as much of the meal or meals in advance. I figured out a way to do both.
People tend to buy whatever is on sale, and usually a little extra,but you still have to thaw it out to prepare it. I figured out I could prepare it ahead of time and save myself a boatload of time when it came to actually getting the meal to the table.
I started buying ground beef in bulk whenever it went on sale. Then instead of freezing it raw, I browned it all. Then I did several things with it. I froze some of it in dinner sized portions for spaghetti, tacos, sloppy joes, etc. Some of it I flash froze spread out on cookie sheets and put into a storage container. At meal times, simply pull out the frozen dinner portion and add to sauce, gravies, whatever you use ground beef for. If the meal was for a single person, hit up the container of flash frozen crumbles, and get a few spoonfuls, or quarter cup or whatever portion you need and make individual tacos or wraps (you can put a few packages of taco seasoning in a shaker , very useful!) using the microwave to heat up your pre-cooked meat. This is great for teenagers!
Chicken breasts can be par boiled, rubbed with vegetable oil, and frozen individually or in packages of 2, 3, 4 etc. Same thing, you have enough for a meal, or the ability to pull out a single serving, or to add a quantity to your normal dinner amount if you have company. You can make any full dinner or utilize the single frozen portions for quick meals for one or two like chicken tacos, fajitas, chicken salad, salad with chicken portions, a quick home made soup or chicken and dumplings or noodles and gravy, the list is endless.
Of course you will have to invest a bit more time in browning 3 or 4 lbs of ground beef instead of one, or par boiling a bunch of chicken breasts instead of a single meal’s worth, but the payoff over the course of a few weeks is incredible!