How to meal prep for your family like a boss
Meal prepping is the ultimate way to save time and money while still serving up healthy foods to your family.
One of the biggest reasons parents grumble about feeding their kids a healthy diet and eating well themselves is finding the time. As a parent, I totally get it. Sometimes at the end of a long day whether that’s dealing with tantrums and energetic little ones or a day in the office, sometimes the last thing you want to do is cook up a healthy feast.
That’s when meal prep comes in handy. This is not a new solution. It’s actually one that’s been around for years and years, but it’s talked about again and again because it works.
Spend a couple of hours in the kitchen together with some conscious meal prep decisions throughout the week and you’ll buy you back more time to play and relax with the family. It’s also a perfect solution for those who don’t actually enjoy cooking and want to cook less!
Tips to meal prep for your family like a boss
Meal prep is less about cooking a whole lot of meals in advance and more about preparing individual ingredients. Try these tips to help you meal prep for your family like a boss.
1. get planning
Take a little time to plan your family’s week out. Use a meal planning template to organise what meals you’ll need to cook and the days/meals you don’t need to prepare. That way you can plan out preciously how much food is required and avoid wastage.
Download my trusty meal planning template here.
2. Make a few snacks in advance
Making a few snacks in advance is a great way to ensure you have whole food lunch box fillers and afternoon treats on hand. It also means you’re less likely to buy packaged foods with questionable ingredients.
3. Pre-cut some veggies
We eat with our eyes and we’re are more likely to eat something that is readily on hand requiring little to no prep. This is also the case for kids, who would prefer to grab and go rather than wait for you to prepare something.
Cutting up veggies such as carrots, capsicum, celery, cucumber and broccoli saves you time. To keep them crisp and crunchy, you can keep some of the firmer veggies such as carrots and celery in a glass jar with a little bit of water.
Now, there is argument that you lose some nutrients when pre-cutting your produce. That’s true especially if exposed to light, oxygen and heat. But for me, the benefits of eating more vegetables out weighs the loss of the most vulnerable nutrients like Vitamin C and E.
4. Prepare your whole grains and legumes
Many people opt for a meal based around white pasta or rice because it is quick and easy. The reality is brown rice takes much longer to cook than white rice. But with a little meal prep, you can include more whole-grains like brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat as well as lentils and beans.
Soaking grains and legumes helps to break down the phytic acid so that the minerals can absorb correctly during digestion. It also helps to minimise that unwanted side effect of gas!
Soaking grains is simple – just place the grains in a glass bowl with enough water to cover. I like to add lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to the water before leaving it covered with a tea towel for 7hrs – overnight.
After you’ve soaked your grains and legumes, cook up some to use for porridge, salads, dinner sides, dips…the list goes on.
5. Cook up your protein
Cooking up quality protein in advance ready to grab and go throughout the week is a great way to save time and ensure you’re meeting your nutrient needs. This can be used to add to salads, sandwiches or for lunchbox fillers.
Some simple ideas would be to make a few hard boiled eggs, shred the meat of a roast or oven bake some salmon fillets.
6. Make breakfast ahead of time
Mornings for families are always a little manic, so make it easier by making breakfast ahead of time. Think making a healthy granola, portioning out a few bircher mueslis or chia puddings, or making a frittata. If you enjoy a smoothie, portion out the ingredients and freeze ready to go. My favourites is berries, zucchini, cauliflower, spinach, cacao and seeds.
7. Portion out some snacks
Save yourself some time especially in the afternoons when hunger strikes and your little one thinks the whole world is going to end. Portion out some whole food snacks ready to go. This could be some yoghurt with fresh berries, a fruit salad, crackers with cheese pieces, a dip and veggie sticks. Keep them on the lower shelf so kids can easily reach.
8. Double your batch
When you are cooking a family meal such as a casserole, Bolognese sauce, a roast or soup, double your batch. This may take you a few minutes extra but it means you have another meal up your sleeve for when you don’t want to cook or you’re short of time.