Of all the pieces of this working-mom life I find challenging, meal time is right up there on the list (right behind and tying into, not having enough time with my kiddos).
Seriously, when I get home from work my children literally start raiding the cupboards for any accessible carbs (read: cereal and crackers). It's a mad rush to get something somewhat healthy on the table before they fill their bellies with all the processed things.
In order to get a moderately healthy meal on the table in lightening speed, I rely heavily on meal planning and food prep.
Here are some meal planning/food prep tips for busy moms (or anyone really because who doesn't want to spend less time worrying about dinner on the daily?)
The most important things are:
1. Making a plan
2. Prepping all the things
that's IT! Easy peasy, right?
My plan was to do post with tips but when I read posts like that I sometimes feel like it's not concrete enough. So, instead of me taking you through an abstract 'to-do' list, I'm just gonna tell you what I do, specifically.
Making a plan:
You probably read that and think I have a giant menu planned out for the week. I don't. Not all the time (read: usually not). For me, the most important thing is sitting down before I do groceries and having a general idea of things we want/need for meals for the week.
I basically think, very basically, about what meats, easy sides and veggies I want. I don't make complicated meals during the week (because, not practical) and I usually like to have things I can easily mix and match.
I have a plan for dinner but I also like to have a plan for other meals as well. Again, I don't over complicate this. For example, for breakfast I find it super easy to make overnight oats. Obviously, when I'm shopping I need to make sure I have the ingredients for my ideas. In this case, greek yogurt, large flake oats and some fresh berries.
Once you pick the things you want and that can mix together to make some healthy fairly balanced meals, the rest is all in the prep.
Prepping all the things:
THIS is the most important part and as I mentioned before, even though I have an idea of the meals we'll be eating, it's when I'm prepping that I really put things together. THIS is where the magic time-saving happens.
Because time is of the essence, most of our meals are cooked ahead of time and re-heated. I don't love using the microwave ALL the time, but we like hot food and this lady doesn't have time to cook a full on the daily. Having stuff ready to go is my life-saver. No, I'm not being dramatic.
Sunday is the day where I usually prep all the things.
What does this mean? I season, cook, cut up and pre-make everything I can possibly think of to make meals easier throughout the week.
Here are some of the things I prep by meal:
- overnight oats - 1/3 cup eat of greek yogurt, rolled oats (large whole flake), water. Make at night, at fruit and stir for breakfast
- omelette muffins - eggs, ham and veggies
- boiled eggs - I literally boil a dozen eggs on Sunday for an easy breakfast or quick add to a salad
- cut and wash lettuce - pre-portion lettuce and/or spinach for salads
- turkey chili or soup (an easy and healthy work lunch)
- cut up various veggies and pre-portion for a healthy snack (celery, carrot sticks, peppers)
- chicken - skinless chicken breast on the BBQ - we cook a bunch on Sunday and will use them for wraps, adding to a salad or as the main meat for dinner
- salmon - I usually cook a couple fillets for during the week. Yes, I'm the jerkface who microwaves fish at the office. #sorrynotsorry
- rice - I cook a few cups of brown rice and use it as sides for dinner during the week
- pasta - kids LOVE pasta (okay, so do I) and it's super convenient to have on hand and ready to heat for a speedy side
- mac and cheese muffins for the kiddos (always a hit)
- potatoes/sweet potatoes - roasted or mashed, a healthy and delicious side
- carrots - my kids love boiled carrots, so I boil a bunch on the weekend to use as a side during the week.
I try and cut up as many fruit and veggies as possible. I find if I have these things prepped, I'm more likely to eat them (and feed them to my family) as opposed to above-mentioned cereal and crackers.
So that's pretty much it... it's not rocket science but doing these simple things significantly reduces my work-week dinner time stress.
Now, PLEASE spam me ALL your meal planning and food prep tips because I'm willing to try anything :)
THEN, hop over to visit Nicole who is also sharing her own meal planning and food prep tips!!
If you have any meal planning or food prep posts - link them up for me and the Blended Blog ladies :)