It’s almost comical that I’m writing this post on meal prep for the busy mom, given the fact that I am even late in meeting the deadline for this post.
Life is busy.
Between the schooling and the carpooling, keeping a rambunctious toddler from destroying the house completely, and stoking those ever present marriage flames, it seems that (most days) I can barely keep my head above water.
I have a sneaking suspicion that many of you can relate.
So let’s toss a little more crazy into that barrel and shake it up for good effect: My husband and I decided it was time to get a handle on the eating habits of our household.
We are one of those lucky families who can live in relative culinary ease as we don’t struggle with any food-related allergies. But ease can lead to complacency, and busyness is the perfect justification for laziness.
In the past few years, I have, admittedly, put minimal effort into wholesome meals. Of course, I made sure we had plenty of vegetables and fruits in our house, and protein has always been a must for my active brood. But too many meals were made from a box, and the effects were beginning to catch up with all of us.
So we decided to see what would happen if, you know, I put just a little more effort into mealtimes, and I have to say it hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I feared it would be. We’ve even managed to cut roughly 90% of the gluten out of our diets, and I have yet to spend an entire day slaving over the kitchen stove.
What I’ve found is that with just a little prep work, a willingness to organize the fridge and pantry, and a dedicated desire to eat wholesome, unprocessed foods, I can still feed my expanding brood without adding too much stress to my already over-taxed days.
I’ll share a few of the tips I’ve learned in my quest for health, but I share these knowing there are many of you who are much further down this whole eating path than I am. So please, share your own tips in the comments sections, and feel free to link to recipes that have worked for you.
5 Tips for Healthy Families on the Go
1.) Make a Plan
I know. I’ve spent many a day laughing at those who hail the benefits of meal planning. “That’s cute,” I’ve thought to myself when hearing such advice. “You must think I have all the gobs of time in the world in which to think out a plan, and then execute it.”
But the truth is, planning ahead doesn’t take that much time. If I plan on just four meals/week, I’ve found that I save money (no last minute trips to the store that end up costing a small fortune), and I save time.
2.) Prepare Ahead of Time
Once a week, I give my husband two bags of frozen chicken, and he tosses it on the grill for me. Voila! In thirty minutes I have chicken for the week that I can use in salads, soups, or for dinners. Piece of cake.
Breakfast is the most challenging meal for my picky eaters, who would eat frozen waffles and cereal every day for 100 years if permitted. The only kind of eggs they like are boiled, but the boiling and peeling is such a hassle that I rarely manage it. This is where my muffin-tin eggs have come quite in handy.
Once a week, I grease a muffin pan, then fill it a quarter way with water. I then crack one egg into each muffin slot and slide it into the oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. The eggs come out fully cooked, and taste just like boiled eggs.
No peeling, and the kids gobble them up. Easy protein FOR THE WIN!
An hour/week is all it takes to organize my pantry and refrigerator in such a way that I can quickly and easily prepare meals. I cut the vegetables I need and put them in containers that are easy to grab when it’s time to start dinner.
And the best part is I can do all this prep work while watching Netflix and drinking a glass of wine.
4.) Become a Crock Pot Diva
Tuesdays and Thursdays are the craziest of our crazy days. Three different children have three different practices in three different locations. I cannot be bothered with dinner plans on those days, which is why I have a bit of a love affair with my crock pot.
I throw some raw meat and veggies inside her in the morning, and in the evening, when the running around is all said and done, she delivers me a hot meal.
Whoever invented the crock pot should be sainted.
5.) Don’t get caught up in the recipe game
You may be someone who loves spending time in the kitchen. Trying and tweaking new recipes may bring great joy to your heart, and if so, I am commend you. Well done!
I am not one of those people. I like to be in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. So while I have recipe books, and I’ll flip through them now and again for ideas, I don’t let myself get caught up in it.
At the end of the day, if my children are eating more unprocessed, whole foods than they are processed, then I chalk it up to a successful day, and I go to sleep content.
So do share – what are your tips for preparing quick meals on the go for your active and growing families? Do you have an recipes to share, websites to follow, or helpful advice for other harried moms?