I am going to guess that you know exactly what you should be feeding your family. You know what the experts recommend: more veggies and home cooked meals; less sugar and convenience foods. It’s not a matter of knowing what to feed them, it is a matter of time. Many of us don’t have the luxury of spending an hour in the kitchen making a nutritious meal for our family every night.
My kids need to eat dinner within 20-30 minutes of getting home on weeknights. If it happens to be on one of the days I work outside of the house, the minutes leading up to dinner can be stressful. Even if I’m at home all day I usually don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen. I’m a big believer in spending a few hours a week preparing food for the week. Just “winging it” doesn’t really work for me. I usually end up sacrificing nutrition for convenience. It’s ok once in awhile, but it becomes a pattern if I don’t put effort into planning. I make an effort to set aside 1-2 hours on Sundays to meal prep.
When I first started meal prepping for the week, I was over ambitious and chose a lot of elaborate recipes. I learned the hard way that it was too overwhelming. Nowadays, I stick to simple foods that I can mix and match at meal time. For example, this past week I roasted a big sheet pan each of broccoli, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. I steamed a bag of green beans, made a big pot of lentil soup, brown rice and grilled a large package of chicken tenders. I washed all of the fruit and veggies so that they would be easy to grab and go. I also stocked up on yogurt, eggs, and healthy snacks for the kids.
Lastly, I made a batch of oatmeal breakfast bars. This took me just 2-3 hours throughout the course of the afternoon. It is time well spent that will benefit you during the week. If you’ve been wanting to jump on the meal prep train but don’t know where to start, I’ve put together a list of my top tips. For those weeks when you need a little extra help, I’ve included resources so that you can still provide nutritious dinners for your family.
My Top 5 Tips:
1. Keep it simple. As I mentioned above, the key here is to stick to simple foods. If you try to make too many elaborate recipes you will get overwhelmed! Stick to one and then fill in the gaps with simple meal components.
2. Involve family and friends. My mom, cousin and I started doing a meal exchange. It’s easy to double or triple a recipe. It doesn’t add a lot of effort and makes it easy to share among our families.
4. Invest in a lot of food storage containers. You’re going to need them!
5. Make it enjoyable! Put on your favorite tunes (I personally love the French cooking music station from Pandora), pour yourself a glass of wine (or a cup of coffee/tea) and get to work!
CRATE to TABLE
CRATE to TABLE is a Twin Cities based customized meal planning, grocery shopping, and meal prep service that seeks to give you a fresh philosophy + fresh ingredients that leads to healthy living.
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I had the chance to test out CRATE to TABLE last month. It’s hard to beat this type of personalized, luxury service. The meals were tailored to our preferences, the food was delicious and clean up was a breeze.
I cannot recommend this service enough! It would be an awesome gift for a friend or family member who just had a baby.
Meal Kit Delivery Services
Fresh meal delivery kit services can be a real time saver in regards to planning and shopping for meals. The kit is delivered right to your doorstep with everything you need to make your meals (usually three meals per week). What I love about these services is that you don’t have to think about dinner. You choose one of your meals and get to work in the kitchen. My husband, who isn’t a cook, can make these meals with ease. All of the ingredients are labeled and the instructions/steps are clear. The fact that he can make the meal alone is one of my favorite things about meal delivery kits. A home cooked meal that I don’t have to cook? Yes, please! We have also had great luck in the taste department. As an added bonus, we get to try new ingredients and recipes that we otherwise may not have the chance to try.
Meal kits do require some effort. Most of the time you have to wash and cut the produce, and prep the different meal components. I don’t mind cooking, but it does take about 30 minutes to make the meal so you need to factor that in to your schedule.
A subscription-based meal planning website. Each week you receive a meal plan for four simple, healthy dinners. Each dinner can be customized to be gluten free, paleo or vegetarian. They feature a 1-click grocery list, custom serving sizes, tips for prepping ahead of time, and so much more. This company is highly invested in educating, inspiring and nourishing. I have personally tried Cook Smarts and highly recommend it!