Does the idea of advanced meal prep make you break out in a sweat? Putting more on the to-do list creates stress, it doesn’t relieve it, right?! I get it. At my house weekends are so crazy that sometimes grocery shopping for the week ahead happens after the girls are in bed at night. Nothing like another fun filled Saturday night at the grocery store! 🙂 And I’m supposed to have found the time to think about meal planning and preparation for the entire coming week and to make my to-do list longer!?
Actually yes, because meal planning and advanced preparation is good for my family, and no, it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming hassle. Because I know that eating well is key to being healthy and feeling great, both for you and for your family, I have to tell you that it’s too important to leave up to chance what we feed ourselves and our family for the week. Eating well makes you feel good and I don’t just mean feeling guilt-free, but having more energy and being more positive, two things we need in spades as moms! I have a few things that I always make sure I do to stay on track with eating and serving healthy meals and with avoiding, say, frozen pizza and take-out. And if not avoid, at least reduce… 🙂
- Write out a meal plan for the week before you go grocery shopping. Think about what you will eat for each meal and snack. Honest, it won’t take long and spending a few minutes to think about what meals you will serve not only helps you create a grocery list, but it will help you stay focused at the store and that way you’ll avoid last minute impulse purchases to keep the family eating well all week. Because you can’t eat junk food if it’s not in the house!
- Pick just one meal for each day of the week to focus on – the one you hate! At first you may not be up for planning out and preparing a week’s worth of meals. Starting with just one meal is a great way to avoid feeling overwhelmed and to get into the habit of advanced meal preparation. Is there a meal that you struggle with? Maybe in the craziness of getting everyone out the door in the morning you end up grabbing something cheesy or sugary at the coffee shop for yourself instead rushing to eat before leave or trying to wait until you get back home. Or do you have a problem with afternoon grazing while you get dinner ready? Or is finding time to prepare and make dinner after a long day just too much to deal with? Once you’ve identified your special challenge, prepare for it: make some overnight oats or breakfast egg cups (I’ll add a link to a recipe on my site here); or wash and cut up some fruit or carrots so you can easily grab them when you’re hungry. What can you do ahead of time for dinner? Maybe you can cut up meat, or wash and cut up the veggies, that way all you have to do is assemble and cook. So much of our “cooking” time is actually spent preparing food to go into the pot, pan, or oven.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE SILLY. To help yourself get into the knack of meal preparation & planning don’t make complicated meals. Pick things that are easy to make and that you can quickly combine with other things: grill some chicken, make some brown rice, wash and cut up broccoli. You can combine and add seasonings as the mood hits you. But you’ll have the bulk of the work done.
- When you cook make more than one portion. If you’re cooking anyway, might as well make extra so you can just reheat later. Left-overs are your friend!
- Have a back-up! Don’t have time to cook, or ran out of what you prepared? Keep food in your freezer that you know is healthy and nutritious and that you can easily and quickly heat up. In our house we always have frozen turkey burgers and frozen green beans. Worst case I open the freezer and grill some burgers and warm up some veggies. It’s quick and still nutritious
- Don’t beat yourself up. If for one reason or another you end up ordering take-out at the last minute, life happens, take-out can taste good, move on 🙂
Meal planning and preparation should make things easier for us moms. Yes you may have to block out time during the weekend to do meal preparation. But that’s time you’ll save during the week. Why not invest half an hour once a week to make sure you’ll feel good about what you’re feeding your family and yourself? When it comes to meal preparation do what you can and what makes sense for your life and your family. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to get onto the table a meal you are proud to serve your family when you spend the effort to plan for and prepare good food ahead of time.