Meal prep and planning for a busy family can often seem like an overwhelming task. We’re breaking it down into easy to digest bites to eliminate the guesswork: plan it, shop it, prep it, enjoy it.
Plan like a pro
We can’t say this enough: plan, plan, plan! Without a solid plan, you’ve got nothing. Think about how many meals and meal periods you need to prep for – breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, or are you looking to just nail 5 weeknight meals?
Assess your diners and schedule to ensure your vegetarian dinner guest can have a seat at the table, and your simplest dish is scheduled for a night when you’ll be chained to your desk for the majority of the day.
Next, invest some time putting pen to paper to map out your meals while thinking about how you can cross utilize ingredients throughout the week. Think, batch cooked veggies as a simple side dish Monday and a pasta dish entrée on Wednesday.
Shop like you have a plan
Becoming a savvy, confident grocery shopper is the key in the meal planning journey. Before you shop, take an inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer and categorize your grocery list to make your time in the store more manageable.
To ensure variety throughout the week, choose 4-5 different proteins (meat, fish, beans, egg), 8-10 fruits and veggies (leafy greens, roots, berries, hand fruit), and 4-5 grains (wild rice, potatoes, oats). Consider pre-chopped veggies and fruits, canned beans, and quick-cooking grains for convenience, and ensure you have spices and citrus on hand so you don’t skimp on flavor. To reduce the risk of over-buying, stick to the list, shop the perimeter, and don’t wait for your pantry to run dry.
Prep with balance in mind
Don’t overcomplicate your plate. Consider each meal to be a three piece puzzle: protein (plant, animal) + carbohydrates (fruits, veggies, grains, dairy) + healthy fat (oils, nuts, avocado). Set aside a few hours each week to clean and chop fruits and veggies, portion proteins, mix up a large jar of dressing, and batch cook bulk items like grains to save you time when you’ll need it most. We love cooking once and eating twice, or more, so don’t be afraid to utilize leftovers.
We hope our plan it, shop it, prep it approach gives you the confidence to meal plan like a pro and allows you to serve up healthy, satisfying meals all week long.