We all do it and we all do it every single day. In fact you’re probably eating on average of 3-5 meals a day, that’s almost 1500 meals a year. Gosh, no wonder you get stumped, bewildered, and run out of ideas for meal prep.
Well my hope for you in the post is that I teach a (wo)man to fish instead of just feeding you for a day. So, you won’t find 50 of my best meal prep recipes here but you will find my formula for never running out of ideas and for having go to plans in the back of my brain – aka no brainers.
First, I want to let you know that the less you have to think about meal planning and prepping the easier it will be. Meaning if some of this can become automatic and habitual you’ll cut out loads of stress. Don’t worry because I’m going to show you how to do that.
Last week and this week plus the next few weeks I’m sharing some of the things I’ve been struggling with over the last year or so. My hope is that I can impart some of my “learnedness” on you and together we can figure this (mom)life thing out. So let’s dive into some meal prep ideas that can get you cookin’!
HEALTHY MEAL PREP IDEAS
Right before COVID started I had made a personal goal to lose some of the baby weight from baby #3. She arrived in January and by March I was ready to kick it all into high gear.
Then, you know the story, gyms closed, schools shut down and trying to stick to a plan and focus on me during this time was next to impossible. But with planning, mindfulness and lots of walks around the neighborhood, I hit my goal to lose 30 lbs. It was a miracle.
Some of the healthy meal prep ideas I came up with were not always from blogs and Pinterest (although that helped). Most of my meal prep ideas and motivation came from a pretty simple formula and really handy containers.
WHAT SHOULD I BUY FOR MEAL PREPPING?
I would love for you to check out my Amazon store for meal prepping. There are some great ideas over there and yes, when you click the link and buy from there my family and I get a tiny bit of change in our pocket. It helps us out to have routines when it comes to meal planning and preparing because it takes out some of the mind work, making certain things automatic.
The more you can do to make meal prep automatic the easier and faster it will become.
For example, there are certain things I buy every week from the grocery store. I did an episode on a few of these things back here you can check out.
- PODCAST EPISODE – The 5 Things I always Get at the Grocery Store (9 min episode)
Getting into a groove of systems is a huge win.
This is what I mean. Friday nights are always family-make-your-own-pizza nights. Tuesday night is always taco Tuesday, which just means Mexican food. I know Tuesday I’m doing quesadillas, enchiladas, nachos, tacos, or something simple and good. I credit this back to my San Antonio roots and being so familiar with these that I don’t need recipes or to get on Pinterest to whip them up. I can usually double these and stick one in the freezer for next week making meal prep that much easier.
See how I pick a “theme” for some nights and stick to that. It takes out the guesswork and the creating making a plan naturally happen.
However if you’re wanting some easy 10 minute, kid friendly (and doable) recipes I have my 10 under 10 that you can purchase for under $10. That’s 10 easy/fast recipes that take under 10 minutes. These 10 recipes will become part of your easy, go to, no brainers that you can throw together (or your kids and throw together) at the last minute!
WHAT FOODS LAST A WEEK FOR MEAL PREPPING?
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the meals and foods that last a week for meal prepping. Most all things I’m including here are all going to be good for a week or so. Now, always be cautious with meats and note when you purchased them, prepped them and when you’re planning to eat. Also, store in airtight containers when you can.
Some of the best things I think to keep for the week are baked potatoes.
Baking potatoes early on in the week can be kept and warmed in the oven for dinner, lunches or even breakfast hash on Friday (even if you baked them on Monday). But the key is to warm them in the oven for the best texture and flavor.
The other food that I think lasts well all week for meal prepping is chicken! I like to grill this up at the start of the week and use it for a dinner, chicken salad and maybe even a crock pot chicken soup!
CHEAP MEAL PREP IDEAS
I can’t say this enough. Meats and veggies.
Grab some of the meat at the store that’s on special and get creative. We like to do some grilling on the weekend and then warm it up in the oven throughout the week.
Frozen veggies is for sure cheaper than fresh and I’ve found I tend to have less going bad or forgotten when it’s frozen.
Try browning a lot of ground beef and then using it for different meals. Maybe make a breakfast casserole and tacos and spaghetti from the batch of beef.
For cheap meal prep ideas you want to remember that the less you waste the more you save. Don’t always look at it as the initial ticket item but think of it in the sense of how far can you spread it and how creative can you get.
Healthy Lunch Ideas
I love the idea of breaking your lunch up into 3 parts. Which is why I love these containers! Not only do I do this for my kids but I do it for myself too. If I can eliminate some of my decision making by giving myself only 3 things for lunch I’m already that much closer to actually prepping the healthy lunch in the first place.
Here are some healthy lunch ideas for us mama’s.
I try to stick with 1 canned item. Rather that be chickpeas, canned corn, red beans or something similar this gives me an easy “divide and dump” into one of my container compartments.
Next, I always include for my main course a salad or leaves of some sort and put in a lemon or lime wedge. Somewhere in my life I got away from dressings and added oils. I’d rather use my high fat/high calorie items somewhere else and dressing was just not needed when I could squeeze citrus on my greens!
Lastly, I add a veggie or fruit along with a hard boiled egg. When I slice an apple on Monday, believe it or not, it’s still great on Friday.
Lunch Box Meal Prep
Believe it or not my kiddos are totally fine with the same thing every day every week. I’ve managed so far to raise non-picky eaters. My method…I’ve convinced my kids from early on that they like all things, that they will try all things and that they simply, are not picky eaters.
My kids would over hear me telling friends or neighbors, “He’s really not picky, he’ll eat anything, he’s a great eater” and they started to repeat and believe it.
They were never allowed to make faces at food and had to give everything a try with the ability to say, “not today but I’ll try again another time”.
So for lunch box meal prep I typically do this on Sunday night or on Monday morning and do it once. I’m not slapping together a PB&J as we’re trying to get out the door or throwing money at them saying, “just buy it today”. We have a plan and it looks like this.
Our containers have 3 compartments. One for sandwich and yogurt. One compartment is for veggie straws or pretzels (I like to throw in a choice for them to make so they feel like they’re part of the plan – Parenting with Love and Logic has taught me loads about giving kids choices!
The last container is for a fruit of their choice. I usually slip a granola bar in the outside pocket of their lunch box or add an orea if I’m feeling daring! Ha.
What I’ve Tried
I’ve been around the block when it comes to food. Ranging from Paleo, Whole 30, Vegan, Keto, bodybuilding and your run-of-the-mill basics. So, what has been something I always go back to? PrepDish. Not only was this company started by a true friend (Allison’s been on the podcast a few times here and there) but it’s so simple and takes all the guesswork out.
I can sign up for a subscription and cancel or save the meals in dropbox and print them up. I can have my babysitter order groceries for me with the grocery list and then she can even help me prep if it’s a crazy week. Everything is step by step and done.
I’ve also enjoyed the cook book (written by my good friends, Simply Whole Moms, mentor) Cook Once Eat All Week.
But most of the time I like to fall back onto sheet pans, crock pots and casseroles. Cause they are easy and good!
If you’re looking for ideas sometimes it’s easier to think back into your own vault in your head. What protein could you season with garlic salt? Is there a starch or veggie you could buy frozen to put on the pan with your protein and slide it in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes and have dinner done?
Instead of looking up stuff, or trying new things all the time could your hubby grill some pork and chicken while you roast the veggies and have it done for the week?
WHAT IS NEXT?
As you know I’m going through a few episodes and sharing some of my past and current struggles. I’ve done a lot of work and looking at these things to try and get better, make them easier and learn the best way to handle them. Have I figured it all out? No way, but am I making strides, yes ma’am!
Next week we’re going to address the little people in your home and how they tend to take over your life and your identity. What do you do when it’s all taking a turn for the worst and everyone online seems to have their act together. Guess what, I don’t but I’m happy to share the areas I’ve grown in and how I’ve worked extra hard to climb this parenthood mountain!
Join me next week to get my best parenting tips and hear from one of my favorite books on parenting. I really only recommend 2 parenting books, hear what they are next week!
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*some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I get some extra change in my pocket just for you using my link, no cost to you but helps the fam and I out!