Saving time and money while still preparing healthy and delicious meals for your family – sounds pretty good, right? Meal prepping will allow you to not only eat healthier but it will also create less work for you throughout the week. Whether you choose to focus on prepping just one meal for each day or all three ahead of time, preparing your meals in advance can be a huge time saver for any busy family.
1. Choose which meals you want to prep
Some moms swear by prepping lunches ahead of time (making sandwiches, pre-cut fruits, etc.) as that is the meal that the family is often separated at work and school. While others may prefer to focus on dinners to allow for relaxation at the end of a long day, instead of worrying about preparing dinner. Maybe you’d like to meal prep breakfast ideas too – quiches, homemade breakfast burritos, etc. Simply choose whichever option will work best for your family.
2. Decide on your “prep day”
Are Saturdays busy in your house? Full of soccer games, birthday parties and homework? Maybe you meal prep on Sundays then. Either way, set aside a day where you can dedicate a few hours to meal prepping.
3. Create a menu of the meals you will be eating throughout the week
Search Pinterest, Food Network, Allrecipes.com or your cookbooks and come up with a menu for the week. This is the first step so you can grab all of the ingredients at the grocery store and then decide on which parts of each meals you can prepare ahead of time. This recipe is a great example of a kid-friendly meal you could prep ahead of time. Your teenagers will love this recipe and this recipe, which are both high in protein, while this Paleo Meatloaf recipe is perfect for adults and can be easily prepared on your prep day.
4. Prepare your fruits and vegetables, and cook your grains
Start with washing (and chopping if needed) all of your fruits and vegetables – whether they are being used in recipes, or intended to be snacks or a part of lunches. You can also prepare all of your grains (pastas and rice) ahead of time also and keep them stored for 3-4 days before you plan to use them.
5. Cook your proteins
Cooking your proteins ahead of time is a huge time saver – whether you place some chicken in your slow cooker for a few hours and then shred it for future casseroles, or you prepare the ground beef for the tacos you will be enjoying later in the week. Go through your menu for the week and see which meats you can cook on your prep day.
6. Invest in reusable food containers so you can organize, separate and refrigerate your meals
A set of Pyrex glass containers are ideal for pre-cooked lunches that need to be microwaved, as they are glass and therefore, microwave-safe. If the meal doesn’t need to be heated up, these lunchboxes are awesome as they include sections for fruit and vegetables as well as a spot for a sandwich or source of protein. If you are simply storing your pre-cooked protein or the chopped vegetables and fruit to enjoy later in the week, any Ziploc or Rubbermaid containers will work great.
Meal prepping allows you to ensure your family is eating healthy and well-balanced meals while also saving you time and money. If you have prepared all of your lunches and dinners ahead of time, you will significantly cut down on eating out. Let us know in the comments below if you have any meal prep tips of your own or if you plan to start meal prepping for your family this week!