You don’t have to spend one day of your weekend meal prepping. There I said it.
But wait, I already have my meals planned out and I bought all the groceries! Winning! Let's level up and get it all done on the weekend!
I used to do this. I would spend most of a Sunday washing, chopping and cooking to make my week easier. And it worked. For a while. But then I had kids and we wanted to do things on the weekends so that tradition has fallen away.
And then enters life - it can get in the way. Traffic, lessons running late, work meeting running over, cranky kids, tired parents. All of it. What if we could take a few simple steps to help ensure the lovely menu we planned for our family was actually executed. AND not have to sacrifice our weekend to do it? (This by no means is a knock on people who love to meal prep on the weekends. If it works for you - awesome! I still do a heavy prep day here and there, it just no longer fits into our regular routine).
There is a happy medium between spending an entire day cooking and freezing and not doing anything until dinner time. I’m going to give you my tips on meal prep so you can see what might work in your life.
Prep in the morning. (Or at lunch if you are home) This one works if you have time in the morning to do a little chopping or cooking. I like to roast whole sweet potatoes in the morning if we are having them that night. Or at least get them most of the way done. Takes a few minutes to scrub and put in the oven, but then they can cook away while you do breakfast and finish getting ready. (Think squash, potatoes, full head of cauliflower - anything that takes a long time to roast).
Other things to prep in the morning. If you are roasting vegetables (a favorite of mine) you can chop them up and get ready them ready to roast on a sheet pan. Keep the pan in the fridge and then just place in the oven while preheating when you get home.
Wash salad ingredients or even assemble the salad. Chop veggies for a soup and keep in a bowl. Marinate or season meat and roll out meatballs. 20 minutes in the morning can save time later when kids are crankier.
Even simple things like setting out the pasta next to the stove and placing the pot on the burner. If I prep at lunch time I will even fill the pots with water ready to boil or steam veggies in just a few hours. Have your kids get into it and clear the table for dinner before you leave the house.
No time in the morning? How about the night before - chop 2 dinners worth of veggies at the same time while the cutting board is out. This is ideal for nights when what you are cooking doesn’t require as much hands on monitoring. Get your green beans washed and prepped or cut up your broccoli. Assemble a slow cooker meal the night before so all you need to do in the morning is put it in the crock pot and go (don’t forget to turn it on!)
Other options - make a double batch of a meal to freezer we do this on the weekends with pancakes or waffles (healthier freezer waffles for the win!) we also do this with muffins, meatballs, soups, chili, and uncooked stir-fry veggies. You can even marinate and freeze cuts of meat in the marinade so they are ready to go.
What are your favorite ways to meal prep? Which dishes are the easiest and tastiest for your family? Comment below!