Back-To-School Meal Prep In 5 Easy steps!
Hey moms and dads! It’s that time of the year again. Summer is slowly coming to a close and preparations are officially underway for back-to-school. As you ease back into the routine of the new school year, preparing lunches becomes an additional task to manage. Most of us, want our children to have nutritious and healthy food options that are also delicious. But I think what we really need, is to be able to provide this to our kids and not have it burden our already busy schedules. So in the spirit of back-to-school, I have included my top 5 steps to help you meal prep the easy way! Enjoy 🙂
Step # 1: Plan Ahead
Before you do anything else regarding meal prep, first plan ahead. Have a “family meeting” and get everyone on board. Brainstorm different meal ideas and make lists of any allergies, preferences or dietary restrictions. Then, decide what you want to include in your meal preparations. Will you only prep lunches for the week or will you also prep dinners in advance? Some families prefer to have a fresh cooked dinner while others would like to avoid cooking every evening.
Once you have an idea of what everyone can or cannot eat and how many meals you need to prepare for, searching for recipes and building a menu for the week will become much easier.
Step # 2: Recipe Research & Menu Building
Once you have a list of your family’s food preferences or restrictions you can then start the research phase. Try to allocate one day a week where you can sit down and build a menu. This day will preferably fall on the same day you do the groceries or the day prior. Take an hour or two to skim through different recipes that you can find online or in cookbooks. Try to focus your research on ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes.
Examples: Sandwiches can be versatile, because they can be used multiple times a week but with different toppings. Healthy casseroles can supply up to 2-3 lunches per family member.
Once you’ve selected your top recipes it’s time to make the menu. Write out the days of the week on a sheet of paper/excel spreadsheet, and under each day write the number of meals you need prepared. Then, for every meal you need prepared, write the ingredients necessary. Once this step is done your almost ready to shop for your groceries, but before you do, you will need to figure out how to store all your meals.
Step # 3: Select Your Containers
This step depends entirely on the meals you decide to prepare. If, for example, you are making 2 casserole lunches, 2 sandwiches and 1 soup & salad to complete 5 lunches a week, you will need 4 containers and two sandwich bags. So, review your recipes and make sure you have the appropriate food storage on hand.
Step # 4: Grocery Shop
Now that you’ve selected your recipes, made your ingredient list and wrote out your weekly menu, you are ready to hit the grocery store! Make sure you have your list on hand and enjoy the food shopping 🙂
Step # 5: Meal Prep Time
As mentioned earlier, try to grocery shop the day before or the day of your meal prep. Set aside the number of hours required for you to chop, cook and package, based on the recipes you need to prepare.
Take out all the supplies needed, including your containers and sandwich bags. Cook all the food that needs cooking first. If you are preparing casseroles in advance, freeze the one that will only be eaten mid-week.
For meals that need to stay fresh and will spoil or get soggy, prepare “prep bags”. A “prep bag”, is a large freezer bag or container filled with the ingredients that will be used for later on in the week. This will make it easier for you to cook or prepare that meal, since the ingredients will be pre-chopped and organized.
Now move on to the meals that don’t need cooking. This usually includes snacks, sandwiches and salads. Once you’ve cooked/chopped and prepared most of your meals you can start filling in your containers and sandwich bags. As you go through each day of the week, label your containers and sandwich bags for each family member. This will allow for no mix-up and an easy transfer into lunch boxes.
Now that your back to school meal prep is complete you can sit back, and congratulate yourself on being the awesome parent that you know you are! Remember, meal prepping can be easy as long as you stay organized, plan ahead, do your recipe research, build your menu and set the time aside for the prepping. I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post! Please include any tips that you’ve used in your preparation of meals.