Save Time and Eat Well with Meal Planning and Meal Prep

I like to be organized. I am a busy working mom, so meal planning and meal prepping save me time, money and stress. Here is the process I currently use.

1. Talk to my family
I ask them if there are any specific meals that they want for the coming week.

2. I look at the grocery store circular to see what is on sale for the week as that may influence the meals.
For example, if cherries are on sale, I will add them to the list. I tend to buy a few different types of fruit, but try to get the ones that are on sale.

3. Make a list of meals for the week.
This is typically a combination of meals we make on a regular basis plus new recipes I found on Pinterest/social media. I try to cook dinner five or six nights a week.

4. Do a quick inventory of cabinets and fridge.
If I run out of something that we consider to be a “staple” in our house, we write it down on the magnetic pad on the fridge. I check the cabinets and fridge to see what we have.

5. Make a shopping list of the items needed.
I like to split the list up into categories: Produce, Meat, Dairy, Paper Goods, Health and Beauty Items, Canned, etc.

6. I make sure I have breakfast, lunch and snack options.
I typically make sure we have two or three options for both breakfast and lunch. Then I add any items to the list that are needed for breakfast and lunch such as cereal, eggs, bread, etc.

7. Once the list is finalized, I head to the grocery store.
I make sure my kids have snacks and drinks because nothing is worse than grocery shopping with “hangry” children.

8. I come home, put everything away and begin my meal prepping process (if I decide to do it that week).

Meal Prep Do’s and Don’ts

Meal prepping is a great way to set yourself up for success. It’s a great time-saver for busy people (including moms). Here are some do’s and don’ts to meal prepping.

DO

  • Dedicate a day for meal prep. (A lot of people like to do it on Sundays.)
  • Make sure your meal prep meals include protein, whole grains and fruits/vegetables.
  • If you meal prep for more than several days in advance, consider freezing the food and then letting it thaw the day you plan to eat it so it stays fresh.
  • Buy cute little containers and/or mason jars to make it more fun.
  • Use mason jars to keep salads fresh for several days.

DON’T

  • Prepare too many days worth of food at once because it won’t stay fresh or it will go bad and will be wasted.
  • Use processed ingredients. Keep it clean!
  • Over-complicate the recipes, just keep them simple.
  • Undercook or overcook food.
  • Be afraid to try new recipes, seasonings, techniques, etc.

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