With busy school days and evening activities back in full force, it’s time to rev up your meal planning skills in order to stay healthy (and sane). Try these 7 steps to get started.
1. Make the actual meal plan. Call all the mealtime decision makers into the room and start charting out your meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the week. Once you have this down, put together a grocery list sectioned out by categories like produce, dairy, grains, etc. so it’s easier to navigate the store efficiently.
2. Tag team the shopping and prepping. While the idea of shopping, prepping, and cooking for the whole week at once can be daunting for one person, split up the responsibilities with your partner. If you are solo, split the shopping trip and meal making into two different days.
3. Invest in good containers. Having enough food storage containers is key to meal prep success. Glass containers are best for storage and reheating as many plastic containers can be sources for BPA exposure. You can also opt for microwave and dishwasher safe silicone storage bags to pack in your kid’s lunch bags. Buy a few at a time if the investment is too much all at once.
4. Slice, dice, and store. Cutting veggies can be time-consuming if you try to do it every night. Instead, chop up all your produce in advance so that you can pull out what you need quickly for each meal. This practice is a salad-making savior.
5. Batch cook. Make all the protein and grains you will need for the week at once so that you can pull out the prepared ingredients when you need them. The key to easy meal planning is to tailor your menu around ingredients that can function in multiple recipes. Your brown rice could be a stir-fry one night, a burrito the next, and a side dish the following.
6. Utilize the slow cooker. There’s nothing better than setting and forgetting your food as it cooks into a tender delicious feast by the end of the day. Be sure to double the recipe to reap the benefits for multiple days. Need some inspiration? Try one of these easy slow cooker recipes perfect for meal planning.
7. Don’t forget the snacks. Keep hunger at bay for you and the kiddos with easy-to-grab nutritious snacks already perfectly portioned. Nuts, hummus and veggies, apple sauce, yogurt—these are all quick and simple bites to pack for your long days out of the house.