Planning and preparing meals can seem overwhelming at first. The key is to develop a process and system that works efficiently for you. Not many moms have the desire or the time to spend hours in the kitchen prepping meals for the week. That won’t bring any joy into your life and it definitely won’t last.
Simplicity and minimalism is the goal for planning and prepping meals. Follow these simple steps to plan and prepare meals with ease:
1) Plan your meals (weekly or monthly) and make a grocery list.
As simple as this sounds, it’s the most important step. You don’t need to know exactly what will be eaten every single day of the week, but you do want to have items available so you can make a full meal.
Try planning for approximately two breakfast options, two lunch options, and three to five dinner options. At each meal you may find that including foods from at least three food groups is helpful in creating full and satisfying meals. For example, breakfast might include eggs, toast with butter, and fruit. If you have trouble thinking of meal ideas, spend five minutes listing all the ideas you can possibly think of and writing them down. Then do a quick search for simple family meals, if needed.
If you have no time to plan or create a list before going to the store, have a “formula” in mind, such as choose two meats, two cheeses, three vegetables, three fruits, and three grains. This specific formula may not work for everyone, so be sure to think through what works for your family.
2) Clean up the kitchen and clean out the refrigerator before you begin prepping or before shopping.
You want to be able to see everything you already have in stock, and it feels good to start fresh!
3) Choose a day to shop and prep (preferably the same day).
Routines are everything when it comes to building habits and staying afloat amidst the chaos of motherhood.
4) Get out a garbage or trimmings bowl for easier organization and clean-up.
This is the best trick to reduce clean-up time!
5) Start with produce. Wash and chop.
Separate into containers for on-the-go breakfasts or lunches, or store away in large containers for veggies that will be cooked. If you did nothing else after this step, you’re winning!
6) Batch cook what you can.
For example, make a large batch of rice, beans, chicken, roasted veggies, a soup, or sauces. Store in the refrigerator or freezer to use throughout the week or month.
7) Put together a couple grab-and-go meals, especially for breakfast or lunch.
It’s okay if these are simple, no-cook meals!
8) When you get the chance, make a large hot meal to enjoy on prep day AND make enough to have leftovers later.
You’ll be glad to have an extra meal on-hand, without the clean-up on busy nights, or food for lunch throughout the week. Example: If you make lasagna, double it!
Always remember, you’re not a bad mom if you don’t spend hours in the kitchen on the weekends. That probably means you’re spending time with your kids instead! Let meal planning and prep work for you! Choose what will work best for your time and for your family, and leave the rest behind.
Happy meal planning!