Early hours, late nights. Unconventional schedules and a toddler mean things can get a little bananas at home. When my son started full day preschool in September, things got even more hectic. I really needed to get my shit together.
I sat back and thought if there’s one thing I can start with to make our daily transitions a little easier, what would it be?
You guessed it (cue dramatic lighting and music): MEAL PREP!
For us, this aspect of our family life made sense. Also, I need to eat consistently. For everyone’s sake.
Often times when I bring this up with clients the words “meal prep” send them running in the opposite direction. There I am, reaching out saying slow down!
Meal prep doesn’t have to cause overwhelm to a point where you avoid it altogether.
Start small, I say. So here’s a few easy tips I’d like to share with all of you (not just my clients) because, let’s get real: while meal prep isn’t sexy (unless it’s dressed up for Instagram) it can be a real game changer for busy pros like yourself:
1. Get organized: First things first! Take a look at your schedule and determine which days you’re going to be super busy, have prior engagements, etc. this will give you a good indication of what days you’re going to want quick meals / snacks.
2. Get inspired: If you’re new to meal prep, start with one meal and 1-2 easy snacks to focus on. Once you get used to it, then you can start preparing more. For example, if you’re focusing on buying less take out, prepare lunches and snacks you can take on the go. The internet is full of inspiration. Here are some of my favourite websites for recipe inspo:
- Oh She Glows
- Minimalist Baker
- Danielle Binns, Family Nutritionist Blog
- Googling Instant Pot Meals (my newest obsession)
- Using family favourites, like this Sweet Potato Stir Fry
Once you decide what meals and snacks you want to make, pop it into a calendar where everyone can see it! I put mine on the fridge.
3. Shop: Using your inspired recipes for the week, create a shopping list. You want to purchase as many ingredients as possible in one outing. This saves time later in the week; when you stick to a list, you’re less likely to impulse buy which also saves you money.
4. Prep / Cook: You’ve done most of the work already, now it’s time to get cooking! Be efficient. Think through what will take the longest, require most / least amount of prep. For example, if I’m making a batch of homemade pasta sauce, while it’s simmering I’ll prep the ingredients and make hummus. I will also chop veggies, leaving them in containers so I can throw them into my son’s lunchbox and my weekday salads.
It also helps to break things down: prepare 1-2 proteins, a grain and veggies. This way you can throw things together in a pinch if needed and you’ll cover all your bases for a great meal. If you follow me on Instagram @reenapfit and my IG Stories feed you’ll see my weekday meals mimic this.
5. Store: Glass containers and mason jars are a great bet for storage (and environmentally friendly). Bonus, if you’re making a large batch (like pasta sauce for example) you can freeze extra portions. Having a small inventory of ready to eat frozen items is always great for rainy days.
Meal prep has been a game changer in our home. We feel good about our choices when it comes to snacking, we’re purchasing less takeout and it’s reduced stress levels on busy days.
I will note that something will have to give in order to create time and space in your schedule to make this happen. However, once it becomes a habit, it won’t feel like “work” but rather something you can’t live without! Give these steps a try and let me know how they go on Instagram @reenapfit #strongwithreena.
PS> Are you a “meal prepper”? What are some of your favourite strategies to make sure it happens every week? Favourite recipes? Share below!