Parents are BUSY. Being a parent takes a lot and sometimes what used to work for us before having children just doesn’t cut it post kids when our time is stretched thin.
Meal prep and cooking is one such area where it may help to have some new routines and hacks in place to make life simpler. Most of us want to eat healthy…we know it’s important and frankly we likely feel better when we are eating whole foods and not licking frosting from a can (we’ve all been there ;) However, some days preparing a meal can seem downright daunting and as fatigue sets in, the options dwindle from home cooked meal to take out to a bowl of cereal or cold toast eaten after the kids are in bed. I totally get it! The days of being able to whip up a full meal from scratch at 6pm may be gone for awhile and planning ahead and meal prep will be your new way of life. I promise- having a plan and doing some prep work makes mealtime much more enjoyable!
Here are some of my fave top meal prep hacks to save you time and keep you organized:
1) Batch Cook. If I am turning my oven on I am going to make it work! Throw in some chicken, vegetables, chickpeas...whatever will fit and make multiple meals in one go. Just check cooking times so nothing burns!
2) 2 words: Smoothie. Bags. If you're a fan of smoothies then you have to try out this time saving hack. Try pre making your smoothies in advance and then freezing until you want to use them. I make a whole week’s worth of smoothies at one time by adding all the dry ingredients (everything except for liquid base) into a freezer bag and then when I want a smoothie I just pop the ingredients out of the bag and into the blender with the liquid. Super simple and a complete game changer! (Note: You can also use mason jars or you can re-use your bags- as long as they didn't contain nut butter :)
3) Quick Snacks are where it's at (I'm looking at you energy balls, chia pudding and hard boiled eggs). Have quick, easy snacks on hand so you can avoid that hangry feeling you get when you haven't eaten in awhile. This will also buy you some time so you can get a healthy meal together.
4) Prep Ingredients Right Away. When I get back from the grocery store I start my prep before I even put my food away.
- I wash and cut up vegetables to be eaten alone with hummus or added to a salad or stir fry.
- I wash/cut up certain fruits that stay fresh in the fridge. Peel, chop and freeze bananas to have on hand for smoothies or banana ice cream.
- I hard boil some eggs.
- Make smoothie bags.
- Make a quick chia pudding or some energy balls (Both SUPER fast recipes)
5) Take some help from the store. Pre cut veggies, rotisserie chicken, bagged salads, prepared meats ready for the grill or quick cook grains. Give yourself some help and try some store shortcuts!
What are your best time saving kitchen hacks? Let me know!