Today I'm sharing strategies to help you meal prep like a pro. Meal prepping is a hot new trend -- preparing meals or parts of meals at the beginning of the week, or even monthly, to help you get dinner done faster. (Or any meal for that matter.) It seriously can save you big time and big money. Less food goes in the garbage because there's a purpose for every food. Did I mention saving you BIG stress?
Doing a meal prep session can simplify, streamline, organize, and make you more efficient in the kitchen. But the biggest benefit is this: a better wife and mom.
When it's 4:30 and I don't have a plan for dinner yet and I'm standing with the refrigerator door open staring at shelf after shelf of food, I begin to get a little stressed. I jump from food to food thinking about whether or not I have all the ingredients to make a recipe I'm thinking of -- scratch that recipe, I'm missing a key ingredient. The more I think, the more my stress level starts to rise. Then I have the question of "Mom, what's for dinner, I'm hungry." and even better is this question: "Is it going to be good?"
In my head I want to answer: "Well, of course it's going to be good (I hope), I don't have a plan yet (I've stood at the frig for 10 minutes now wondering what to do, I should be better than this -- insert mom guilt), and you asking me is starting to seriously stress me out!" (Insert even more mom guilt and shame.)
See how meal prep and meal planning can save families and marriages? Seriously.
In my personalized, virtual kitchen coaching, I work with people across the United States that over and over again share these same struggles:
- not enough time to make a meal they feel good about feeding their family;
- needing to get out of the boring rut of serving spaghetti, tacos, and pizza twice a week;
- wishing for new ideas to incorporate into a menu but have time or energy to figure it all out;
- wanting an actual menu plan to simplify meal prep and relieve their mind of the what's for dinner (or breakfast or lunch) stress;
- feeling like healthy foods take a long time to prepare, they just don't have time to make it work;
- picky eaters in the house causing short order cooking;
- wanting to know what to meal prep before the week starts so meals can be made in minutes each night of the week.
- wanting to have a pantry, frig, and freezer stocked with healthy foods
Today, I'm sharing my three best strategies to boost your meal prep confidence so you can meal prep like a pro!
Here are three ways you can meal prep like a pro:
Fit meal prep into YOUR schedule.
I've done both weekly and monthly meal prep sessions and I can say, I really enjoy the monthly meal prep a lot more. Doing monthly meal prep makes me feel more flexible and less rigid. If we have something going on a Sunday, I don't have to feel guilty that it's cutting into my meal prep time. I work meal prep into my schedule, the first or second Sunday of the month, usually in the afternoon, after church, or sometimes in the early evening say 4:00, when I would be starting dinner anyway. I allow a couple of hours to meal prep and fill my freezer and refrigerator and I turn on some music or a great podcast (Conversations with Anne Elizabeth or Sound Bites) to keep my energy up. When I am laser focused on the task at hand, I am more productive and less stressed.
Choose the right foods to meal prep.
Here's my list of foods I meal prep each month. These foods go well with SO many recipes and you won't believe the amount of time meal prepping these items can save.
- Ground beef - I cook up 10 pounds of thawed, 10 or 15% fat content, ground beef with a little salt and pepper and portion 2 cups into freezer bags.
- Chicken breasts - I cook up 10 pounds thawed chicken breasts (rubbed in olive oil, salt, pepper and/or seasoning of choice) in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 minutes and food thermometer reads 165 degrees, or I use the grill (low and slow so they remain juicy). I then chop the cooked chicken breasts up and portion two cups per freezer bag.
- Rice - I add 1/2 cup wild rice + 1 cup long grain brown rice + 3-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth + 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil into my rice cooker and put it in the microwave for 5 minutes at 100% power, then reducing the power to 50% for 15 additional minutes. I divide the amount in half and portion it into freezer bags. I add flavor through seasonings, herbs, and spices when we reheat it for meal times. I do the same with quinoa, just modifying the broth amount per package directions.
- Dry beans - I will soak the beans per package directions and do the final cooking process while I am doing the rest of my meal prep. I freeze the beans in 1-1/2 cup portions.
- Breakfast - Breakfast tacos, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast apple cheddar muffins, oatmeal muffins...for more inspiration check out this video (and join my Meal Solutions group on Facebook for even more ideas).
Use the right tools to make meal prep more fun and efficient.
Having the right kitchen tools to meal prep makes all the difference. Cooking up 10 pounds of ground beef in a small skillet just isn't going to work. You need a large Dutch Oven to make that a task you can do in about 20 minutes. Here's a list of tools that work best for meal prep: