Managing a full time job, travel, home and family, our website, community outreach, church, fitness, and finding time for our hobbies means we are all about productivity around here. One of the biggest pieces of this productivity is food prep and meal planning. This is key for managing a busy schedule, staying in budget and making healthy choices. KEY!
Seriously. People make fun of me a little because I could talk about once a month cooking, crockpot and/or freezer meals for days and somehow end up finding a way to bring them up in any conversation. Haha!
Friend: So I was wondering how to do gel liner but I think it will take too much time in the morning
Me: Oh no, it’s super easy and there are so many ways you can use it. Plus the staying power is amazing. It’s very quick once you learn it.
Friend: Well I just don’t have the extra time to learn.
Me: Oh, well if you just meal prep on Sunday it only takes an hour freeing up HOURS during the week that you can use to learn all sorts of new techniques.
Yep. See how I just slipped that in there? Too bad none of the MLMs out there are for meal prepping. 😉 haha!
If the thought of prepping food ahead of time overwhelms you, start small. You can ease into food prep by simply washing and chopping a few fruits and vegetables and hard boiled eggs to snack on. As it becomes more of a habit, try throwing some chicken or steak or both on the grill to eat throughout the week, cooking up a batch of brown rice or quinoa and making a big pot of soup or a casserole.
In the Make Over Your Evenings course Crystal even brings up food prep! Reaffirming my testimony of it’s greatness. You can read more about the program in our post here. So if you want to learn how to food prep but are feeling overwhelmed, here are 6 simple tips for beginners to help you get started.
Food Prep: 6 Simple Tips
- Start with a plan.
- Make a list of everything you want to prep for the week. Use your weekly menu if you have one or decide on basic staples that can be used in a variety of meals (like meat, beans, grains etc).
- The best way to ensure you get the most out of your allotted food prep time is to make sure you’re doing multiple things at once. You could, theoretically, have something in the crockpot, something in the oven, a couple things on the stove and be chopping vegetables on the counter all at once. This is where your list comes in handy! Think long term and start crockpot and oven items first. Since baking typically takes the longest, I always make sure I have something on-deck, ready to go into the oven when the previous thing comes out. Then I fill in the remaining time by working on the items on the stove, counter, etc.
- Keep it simple.
- Most leftovers are only safe in the fridge for 3-4 days, so don’t prep more food than you and your family can finish by Thursday if you’re doing your prep on Sundays. Remember that if you reach Tuesday or Wednesday and realize you have too much food you can always freeze a few things.
- Double your regular recipes.
- If you’re making something like soup, burgers or casserole, consider doubling the recipe and putting half in the freezer for later. It won’t be much extra work for you and it’s an easy way to make sure you have food on hand for busy weeks when you don’t have time to food prep.
- Choose good tools!
- Crockpots, rice cookers, steamers, high-quality blenders, and pressure cookers are your best friends. Get a few different cheap cutting boards and a really sharp knife or two. Using good tools will make things more efficient and less brain work.
- Target your trouble times.
- Think about what time of the day you struggle most with healthy eating. Do you have a tough time eating breakfast but usually do fairly well with dinner? Focus your prep time on making a few breakfast options ahead of time – I make breakfast muffins and sandwiches for my husband every 2-3 weeks and store some of them in Ziploc bags in the fridge and freezer so he can grab one on his way out the door. If you always make time for breakfast but find yourself snacking on crap in the middle of the day focus your prep on healthy snack options. Our go-to snacks include sliced apples with almond butter, quinoa bars, hard boiled eggs and baby bells. Don’t feel like you have to prep for every single meal of the day. Start with your trouble spots and then expand from there as you get more skilled and effective and food prep.
Remember that you don’t always have to prep entire meals. Look at your meal plan and prep some of the common denominators in various meals. Do several of the recipes you’re making this week include chicken? Why not make a rotisserie-style chicken in the crockpot?
Each weekend, I make it a goal to head to the kitchen and do some Saturday or Sunday Food Prep. I am usually able to do an entire month of breakfast and dinner in a little over an hour! I am then able to just do snacks and any extra food prep needed based on our meal plan for that week.
This system has not only helped us stay in our budget, save time AND eat healthy, but because it takes the guess work out and has freed up our schedule, meal time is enjoyable and cooking is fun. My kids LOVE to help with meal prep and it is a fun scheduled family time of the week.
We are so passionate about this because what we eat has such a huge effect on our skin and overall health. So make sure to subscribe! We will be talking about some snack tips, menu ideas, freezer recipes, etc. coming up soon! What are your best tips or what would you love to see us cover in this area?