Are you looking for ways to make mealtime a little easier? If so, then you'll want to try out these five meal prep ideas! They're perfect for busy families who are always on the go. From make-ahead breakfasts to packed lunch ideas, there's something for everyone. So grab a pen and paper and get ready to Meal Prep like a pro!
Planning ahead by making a grocery list and sticking to it
Planning ahead by making a grocery list is a great way to stay organized, save time and money at the store, and help reduce unnecessary food waste. It's an especially helpful practice for busy families who want to make sure that everyone has access to healthy and affordable meals. Creating a grocery list can also be a fun bonding experience for the family. Set aside some time to get everyone involved - ask each family member what they'd like mom or dad to pick up at the store, or take turns planning out different meal ideas based on what ingredients are in the pantry.
If you’re feeling extra ambitious, consider taking it one step further and creating the ultimate meal plan; assign dishes to different days of the week, include breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas and make sure that everyone feels included. Being able to see meals planned out in advance will also help reduce any stress that might come with constantly trying to figure out what’s for dinner each night. With a grocery list as your companion, you won’t have to worry about what you’ll cook for dinner - just head over to the store, pick up all of your items from your list and you’ll be well on your way! Check out Penn Medicine for some smart grocery shopping tips.
Batching cooking methods like baking or grilling several chicken breasts at once
Batching cooking methods like baking or grilling multiple chicken breasts at once is a great way to save time and energy in the kitchen. One of the simplest ways to approach batch cooking is to make one base recipe which can be adapted into different dishes. There’s no need to eat the same thing all week – you can freeze in portions and enjoy them later. Not only does it provide delicious, juicy, perfectly cooked food with minimal effort, but it also allows you to meal-prep for the week ahead. It's an ideal solution for busy households, especially ones with picky eaters who often have entirely different meals they need prepared.
Preparing everything together eliminates having to make multiple trips back and forth between the stove and fridge, meaning less time in front of hot ovens and tired arms! The key to successful batching is planning: plan out your recipes ahead of time so that you know what needs to go into each dish before beginning preparation - this way you can efficiently cook everything at once while keeping flavor and texture from overlapping. Ultimately, batch cooking is a smart way to pre-make tasty dishes for the entire family without spending too much time in the kitchen!
Pre-chopping vegetables so they are ready to go for stir-fries or salads
Pre-chopping vegetables is a great way to set yourself up for success when it comes to stir-fries and salads. It may feel like time consuming work at first, but after you get used to it you'll find that this preparation can save you both time and money! For example, when pre-chopping vegetables for salads, try using a mandoline slicer to create perfectly thin slices of cucumbers or carrots in minutes. You can also use blanched vegetables from the store, which saves even more time.
When pre-chopping vegetables for stir fries, be sure to cube any hard vegetables such as potatoes or onions so they're bite sized and easy to cook quickly over high heat. Pre-prepped vegetables can make all the difference in creating delicious meals with minimal effort: no more scrambling for produce when dinner demands speed and precision! With some helpful tips and the right tools, pre-chopping veggies will become second nature -- keeping your family nourished and your kitchen running smoothly.
Assembling quick and easy meals in advance
Assembling quick and easy meals like sandwiches, wraps, or burritos in advance can be a great way to make meal-time easier for busy families. Not only does it save time on busy days, but it can also offer some much-needed variety in your diet. Preparing several different kinds in bulk during the weekend gives the whole family a chance to mix and match throughout the week. Plus, it's a great opportunity to get creative and involve everyone by allowing each family member to choose their own fillings or ingredients. And if you're worried about food going bad before you eat it, freezing your creations for future consumption is always an option. So why not throw some fun into mealtime prep with a little advance assembly?
Storing leftovers in portioned out containers for future lunches or dinners
A survey from Glad found that nearly half (44%) of Americans have found an item in their fridge in the past month that they didn’t realize was there. Storing leftovers in portioned out containers is an excellent way to have delicious, home-cooked meals on hand - no matter how busy your day gets! Not only will it save you time and effort of making a meal from scratch every night, but it can actually be great fun to experiment with flavors when deciding what you’d like each portion to contain.
Plus, if you’ve got kids or picky eaters at the table it makes portion size much easier to manage. Getting creative with storing leftovers can result in tasty, interesting meals that are both convenient and nutritious. Even after the food is stored, that doesn’t leave much else for you to do except heat up the container and enjoy! So take some time this week to start making meals ahead of time – your future self will thank you. If want to learn how to properly store your food for leftovers check out the Spruce Eats.
Planning ahead is the key to success when it comes to feeding your family healthy meals. By batch cooking, prepping vegetables, and assembling quick and easy meals in advance, you can make sure that you always have something healthy on hand for your family to eat. And don't forget to save those leftovers! Storing them in portioned out containers will give you a head start on future lunches and dinners. Join our YFN academy to learn more about health and fitness for your kids!
Beckwith, Rachel. "Batch Cooking for Beginners." BBC Good Food, BBC, 26 Feb. 2020, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/batch-cooking-beginners.
Miller-Ka, Nikki. “How to Store Cooked Food Leftovers.” The Spruce Eats, 1 Jan. 2023, https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-store-cooked-food-leftovers-6746490.
Mooth, Bryn. “Don't Throw That Away! 10 Creative Ways To Use Leftovers.” iValueFood, 2 Sept. 2020, https://ivaluefood.com/resources/cooking-eating/creative-ways-to-use-leftovers/.
Penn Medicine. "Healthy Grocery Shopping Tips." Penn Medicine Blogs | Health and Wellness, Penn Medicine, 10 Jan. 2020, https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2020/january/healthy-grocery-shopping-tips.