All of us tend to be busy. We are often running around trying to make to work on time, picking up children from day care, trying to find something healthy for dinner and then getting the children to bed at a decent hour. Lots of us barely have time to get all those things done in a day. When it comes to meal preparation for the week, this can get overlooked and not made a priority. I am guilty of this as well. Grocery shopping and preparing meals can get so old, because you have to do it week after week and something it is just not well thought out.
I am hoping to encourage you to make the time meal prep for your week so that you can set yourself and your family up for success. First step is to make sure you sit down and make out a grocery list for the week. The items that you need to prepare a list of recipes that you want to make throughout the week. Then head out to the grocery and stick to that list. When you bring those food items home, set aside about a hour to cut up and get that food ready to cook with for the week. This is often the part that gets overlook. Taking the time to wash all your produce, chop it up and put it in containers will drastically increase your cooking time throughout the week. This will help you so much when it comes to making quick and easy meals at home for your family. You can even cook up some meat as well if that ends up being helpful for lunches throughout the week. I would encourage you to start with simply washing, cutting up and putting your produce in containers so that it is more easily usable throughout the week.
Making Breakfast Ahead of Time
I wanted to share a couple of recipes with you for some great ideas on how to make a healthy breakfast ahead of time so that you are starting your day off on the right foot.
I love this recipe because it is super easy and delicious. Simply mix together rolled oats, yogurt, milk and some chia seeds. This can be put in small containers and kept in your refrigerator. Then you can throw some berries or other fruit on top and take this fiber-filled oatmeal dish with you to work.
Microwave Breakfast Scrambles
I found this recipe from the website Budget Bytes and I love this idea that I just had to share it with you. You can place chopped up vegetables, cooked sausage or hash-browns in a wide neck ceramic dish. This can be stored in the refrigerator and then you add a raw egg on top and microwave for 15 second increments, stirring in between to carefully cook that egg and create a breakfast scramble. There are lots of creative recipes that you could follow. You could combine bacon, hash-browns, cheese or you could make a veggie themed scramble with spinach, tomatoes and feta cheese.
Packing a Healthy Lunch
Obviously each meal that you eat makes a difference in your overall health and eating a healthy lunch is just as important as a healthy breakfast. With work and school it can be rough to have time to pack something ahead of time and take it with you. There are a couple of ideas here that I think would be easy to pack ahead of time and take with you.
Pasta and Sautéed Vegetables
This can be a easy dish to put in a container, because it could look different each week depending on what leftover pasta options you might have in your refrigerator. You could do a spaghetti with a red meat sauce and pair that with some roasted squash (zucchini and yellow squash). You can top with fresh basil and then simply heat this up for your lunch time meal. If you happen to have a left over salad, you could bring that as well.
I love burritos and all the ingredients you can pack in that tortilla, but sometimes things can just get messy. That is why I really like this idea of a burrito bowl You can put together in one container all the ingredients you love from a burrito and then heat it up and enjoy with a few less carbohydrates sans tortilla. You can line up your meat or black beans for protein, some shredded cheese, grilled vegetables (like peppers, onions or zucchini), salsa, corn and top with green onions. You can pack some lettuce, avocado or sour cream separately.
For this dish you will need two Tupperware or glassware containers. One will be for the lettuce/salad mixture and the other will be for the toppings. You can put your favorite cobb salad toppings together - chickpeas, cubed cheese, chicken slices, bacon, tomatoes, hard boiled egg and then pack your favorite dressing on the side. If you do choose to purchase bagged lettuce, make sure you recognize that something this goes bad faster then whole lettuce leaves. Just plan ahead when it comes to your meal prepping so that you don't create more food waste.
Quick and Easy Dinners
Dinner time is often a stumbling block for a lot of people. This is why doing some meal preparation can be super helpful for dinner. The key to being success in making healthy, quick dinner at home is to not spend your whole evening in the kitchen. If you can prepare items ahead of time, cutting, chopping, cooking, etc then you are able to save that time in the evening. You can even cook meals ahead of time and then simply reheat them for dinner. That works as well. Using left-overs is a great way to save time and money as well. If you make a large pot of soup that be easily stored in the refrigerator and reheated at another time will be helpful. You can use that chili, for example, as a stand alone soup or as a topping for baked potatoes.
There are so many recipes that you can find online with ideas for quick and easy meals. Once you find a recipe that you like, save it and print it off. That way you can keep your favorites and prepare them again in a couple of weeks.
When it comes to meal prepping, the key is to plan ahead and then do a little of that work ahead of time to save you time later. The hardest part to spending the initial time shopping and preparing the food items. Hopefully some of these tips and recipes help inspire you to do some meal planning this next week!