Time is a luxury – something most of you cannot afford to waste and wish you had endless amounts of. Most families operate on an over-scheduled day with parents trying to balance work, kids, kids’ activities, and running the household. And if you happen to be a single mom, well, let’s just say the amount of work is double. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for individuals to have more than one stream of income, which means working more than the typical 40-hour week.
So how are you supposed to take care of yourself and your family? When do you have time to prepare healthy meals? The sad fact is, most of you don’t, and you resort to fast take-out food, skipping meals, or eating whatever ice cream is in the freezer. This is not an optimal wellness plan; and if mom isn’t running at her optimal level, the family won’t be either. Having an organized method to ensure you are eating healthy and nutrient-dense food is a good place to start. So why not think about meal prep?
The concept of meal prepping revolves around preparing healthy meals ahead of time so they are available when you need them. It can be one meal a day or all three meals, premade and available at a moment’s notice. Meal prepping is a great way to keep your diet on track with healthy eating, especially if weight loss is the goal, with the added benefit of saving time and money. The fantastic thing about meal prepping is it works for every eating style and cooking level. Meals can be simple or elaborate, depending on your tastes and ability in the kitchen. However, there are some basics to consider when choosing to add these premade meals to your life style.
Make a Plan
Meal prepping can be an overwhelming undertaking in the beginning. So, it’s important to start slowly and choose only one meal a day to prepare. Prepping more than that right away can derail you from future prep work. The idea is for meal prepping to help you, not stress you out. Experts also agree that cooking for three days at a time is best in the beginning for food safety reasons. Most meals will go bad after three days.
If you cook more than three days’ worth of meals, be sure to freeze them and take them out the night before you need them. Before you begin meal prepping, choose which days are best so you can make the time to prepare the meals. Most preppers break their cooking into two days, like Wednesday and Sunday. If you need a calendar to help you keep track of meals and recipes, there are several apps and online calendars to choose from.
Once you get your cooking days sorted, the next step is to get organized, which means going beyond grocery shopping. A key to meal prepping is the containers. Containers with compartments for keeping the different foods separated are your best option. Other factors include containers that are BPA free, dishwasher safe, and microwave safe. Glass jars, like mason jars, are also great for making and keeping salads in the fridge. By putting the dressing on the bottom and layering the salad ingredients on top, everything stays fresh. Other things to consider having on hand are plastic baggies of various sizes and something to keep liquids in if you choose to have soup.
Meal Prep Day
Sunday is a great day to cook and prep meals. Most people have the day off, and kids are home as well. This is the time to chop, make large batches of food, and assemble the meals into your containers. If you have them, why not put your tiny humans to work and spend some time with them. Not only do you have little workers, but they are able to see the value in a healthy meal.
Another option in the make-ahead meal category is prepping freezer meals. Put an entire meal together, like for a dinner, but don’t cook it. Label the meals and store them in the freezer or refrigerator until they are needed. By assembling your meals ahead, all you need to do is put them in the slow cooker or Instant Pot, and press the button.
Once you have the plan set and the meals made, enjoy some extra time in your day and revel in the fact that you are eating healthy, even when you’re on the go.
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