Do you ever wonder how some people manage to have it all together and get it all done, keeping the house clean, working, and still finding time to make meals at home rather than eating out several times per week? Learn how to save time throughout the busy work week with these easy meal prepping tips . . .
Prepping meals for the busy work week
Planning what’s for dinner and actually getting it to the table can be especially challenging for a working parent. The week starts out with the best of intentions, then by Thursday you are ready to grab take out on the way home because it’s going to take too much time to cook.
It doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. Think of it as a game….. The first step is meal planning. You don’t have to start with the entire week if it’s not something you are use to doing. Take it a few days at a time. What type of meals does your family eat? Slow cooked, soups, casseroles, pastas, grilled meats….. Do you have a salad almost every night with dinner?
Here are some time saving tips to help get your families meal on the dinner table without making you crazy when you walk in the door.
However you grocery shop, weekly, bi-weekly, or even every couple of days; you invariably have meals in mind when you shop. Some are extremely detailed with their lists and menu planning others of us sort of fly by the seat of our pants. Either way there are quite a few things you can do to help with the weekly meal preparation.
Before shopping: Meal plan. It’s not super hard. Just like you tell your kids, turn it into a game of sorts. You could even put a list on the refrigerator to remind you what you planned for dinner that week. Take one recipe at a time and think about how you could make preparing it easier
Most families have a meat, starch, and a vegetable for dinner most nights during the week. With the occasional soup, slow-cooker, pasta, and casserole thrown in.
For the Meat, starch, vegetable nights:
1. When you get home from the store, don’t just throw that package of chicken, steak, or pork in the fridge or freezer. Take a moment to figure out what you bought it for. Whether it’s a new recipe you were going to try or you just felt like buying chicken, take the time and decide what you are going to do with it. If it’s for stir fry-slice it. If it’s for grilling- it only take a moment to put the spices or marinade on the meat. Label the freezer bag and pack it away. If you bought a 1.b of hamburger to make spaghetti. Go ahead and brown it while you put the other groceries away. Cooked ground beef is very handy to have around, and it stores great in the fridge or freezer.
2. Pre wash and or slice vegetables. If you always slice bell peppers for recipes, why not slice them up and keep them in a container so they are ready to go. No big deal if you need to further dice them. You can do the same with most vegetables. In fact, follow this easy tip for making your fresh produce last 7-10 days
3. Potatoes- you can peel potatoes the night before and keep them in water in the fridge to make mashed potatoes. Rice can be pre-measured and loaded into the rice cooker to be turned on when you get home.
- Casseroles– These can easily be made up ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. If that’s not possible, at least get out the casserole dish and the dry ingredients with the recipe to make it easier when you get home.
- Crockpot/Slow-Cooker meals– The working mom’s best friend. These can be made up the night before and just put the crockpot on when you leave in the morning. Some crockpot meals are easy to make up and store in the fridge or freezer in storage bags.
While setting the coffee pot in the evening I read the note that’s taped to the coffee pot. “What’s for Dinner”? It gets me thinking about tomorrow night’s plan. When I’m pouring my morning coffee, there it is again to remind me to take something out or at least think about what we are having so I’m not stressed out when I walk in the door after work and everyone is hungry. If you have older kids give them some responsibility in having things set up for you, or put the casserole in for you at a certain time.
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