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Motherhood is absolutely hectic today. Between work commitments, your children(s) schooling, homework, after-school activities, seeing friends and family, maintaining your relationship, and so on – there’s barely enough time to breathe! Maybe you feel like you’re constantly on the back foot – rushing between tasks, trying to get everything done so you can grab a little bit of respite? Trust me I get it – I have been there! With two small children (and one more on the way) and a husband who works a million hours, I have been in my fair share of motherhood overwhelm! But I’ve learned that with a bit of organization here and there, we can take back control and create the space for our lives to run smoother.
One of the best organization hacks I’ve discovered is the art of meal prepping! Read on to find out more!
Why Meal Prep?
Weekly meal prep may very well sound like a drag. Conjuring up images of an entire day slogging over the stove… But 100% isn’t like that. There are so many different ways that you can approach your weekly meal prep all depending on what your family needs – and rest assured that even the smallest bit of preparation will have a decent impact on your week!
- Save Money
Meal prepping will reduce your food wastage, as well as reduce the amount of food you buy on the run, in turn saving you money.
- Save Time
Having ingredients, snacks or even whole meals prepped ahead of time means less time getting things organized during the week.
- Reduce Stress
Having more time, and more money, and having to think less about what needs to be done will definitely reduce your stress levels!
- Eat Healthier
The convenience of having your ingredients, snacks, or meals ready to go means you’ll be reaching less for takeout!
How do I Meal Prep for my Family?
There are so many ways to approach this – it all depends on your family makeup, what your schedule and your needs are like. Below are three key ideas to consider when starting weekly meal prep, and 7 top hacks for making this work for a family! Enjoy!
- Meal plan
If you aren’t already on the meal planning bandwagon then you need to jump on. There is absolutely no way that you will be able to meal prep effectively if you don’t have a plan of what you and your family are eating during the week! A meal plan isn’t as dreary as it seems – you could plan for a week, a fortnight, or a month. Keep it simple and just list your family’s favorite meals with recipes you know! As you get more into it, you could start to include a new recipe to try each week.
Create a menu and schedule when you’re having your meals. This way, if things are in the freezer you know when to get them out. You can use up your fresh produce before it goes off. We have a menu board on display in our house so that the kids don’t constantly ask us what’s for dinner haha, it works a treat!
This is always a biggie in our house – forever not having enough containers! I won’t lie, I have a thing for containers – but the kids also have a thing for playing with them, so they often disappear. Consider how you’re going to store your food – freezer bags or containers that can be refrigerated and/or frozen. And remember – you can never have enough!
Meal Prep Hacks
Ok, now we’re at the actual stage of meal prepping! Here are some of my best hacks for when you start the weekly meal prep buzz. Pick and choose what works for you and your family! Good luck!
- Don’t Try to Prep Everything
This is probably the number one mistake to make – wanting to do it all! Trying to prep all breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the whole week not only reeks of effort but will literally take you an entire day. It is a guaranteed way for you to give up on meal prepping. Instead, pick what is most important for your family – may be having snacks baked and frozen, plus dinner ingredients chopped is all you need! Or, knowing breakfast is sorted for each morning and a smoothie for later in the day would make your day easier! It totally depends on you and your lifestyle!
- Prep Veggies for the Week
This is one of the easiest ways to start! Simply chopping your vegetables the day you buy them and storing them efficiently is incredibly helpful. Think carrots, celery, cucumber, tomatoes, even lettuce! Store them in airtight containers with a damp paper towel underneath (so that they don’t dry out), and you’ll have a smorgasbord of vegetables to easily grab for any meal. These should last the week and bonus: even the kids can help make meals using these ingredients!
- Roast a big batch of vegetables to eat throughout the week. Mix with leftover meat, rice, feta, or pesto to add some flavor!
- Prep your sauces/dressings for the week.
- Cook up a batch of pasta or rice to make easy lunches from.
- Baking + Freeze
Baking snacks for your family is an awesome way to help healthy eating within the family. You can hide vegetables in for fussy eaters and reduce sugar too! As a family of 4, we typically go through two different types of baking a week. To meal prep, I find the easiest way is to set aside sometime one afternoon and bake both recipes. You can choose to bake it all and freeze the finished product, or even just freeze some of the batter for the following week!
- Kids lunch the night before
Prepping kid’s lunches the night before would be my number one go-to for an organized week! Having the lunches done so that before you head to school or daycare, or even for an outing – you can just grab them from the fridge, saves not only time but also mental clutter and stress in the morning.
What time of the day do you cook dinner? I think the majority of us rush home from work or do the after-school pick up, then cram in trying to cook a nutritious meal while the kids are hungry and demanding food. Utilizing slow cooker meals, or getting up a bit earlier to cook before leaving the house will help you save time and stress! In our house, I cook dinner at lunchtime! Then we just reheat it when we’re all ready to eat that evening. Easy as!
- Batch cooking – freeze or eat throughout work
Cook up a double batch of food then either freeze it for another week or eat it throughout the week.
- Soup or stew
- Whole roasted chicken, and used for salads
- Anything in the slow cooker
- Portion things
Similar to prepping veggies for the week – consider what you can portion out as an easy grab and go.
- Trail mix or nuts
- Chips or popcorn
- Hummus or dip portions with chopped veggies
- for breakfast
If you’ve been meal prepping for your family – I’d love to hear the results! What works best for you?