Meal prepping has been slowly taking the world by storm as people discover the joys of not having to cook every night. It saves money, it saves time, and it saves you from deciding not to cook and to have pizza delivered after a long day. If you’re new to it, here is a guide on how to meal prep for a family of any size.
It all starts with a schedule.
Most people who do meal prepping will do so Sunday after church but before dinner and that will be the only time they cook all week. But, if you’re worried about food going bad by the end of the week then consider having a second cooking session on Wednesday. This will keep food from going bad. The general guideline for food safety is that it is good for approximately 3 days after it has been cooked, assuming you store it safely in the fridge. Another option is to freeze half of what you make on Sunday and then defrost the food each day after Wednesday. But this added complication does go against the idea of keeping it simple.
Once you know your schedule you’ll need to stock up on food-safe plastic or glass containers. I recommend either all glass or a mix of glass and plastic. You will want to use the glass for foods like spaghetti that would stain plastic.
Decide what you’re going to eat before you go shopping.
Have a detailed shopping list that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and a dessert at least once a week. Consider what tools you will have access to for each meal. It’s no good to give your kids something that needs to be microwaved if they aren’t going to have access to one at school. Below I’ve listed a few foods that perform well with meal prepping.
Scrambled Egg and Bacon Sandwiches
Granola (With Yogurt added on the day)
Sandwiches ( With Condiments added on the day)
Meatballs with Spaghetti
Fruit with Peanut Butter
Veggies with a Homemade Spinach or Artichoke Dip
Now, this is the part where I will disagree with how most people meal prep. Most people will only make the same type of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole week. But I can tell you that it gets old fast. Your brain loves variety! So yes, make the same breakfast for each day. Most of us tend to eat the same thing for breakfast every day already. Make 2 types of lunch, 3 days of one of them and 4 days of the other. For dinner, I recommend the same, 2 types of dinner.
So you might make roasted chicken with roasted potatoes, and peas for 3 nights then have Stir Fry for 4 nights. You can add a little bit of variety by having different lunch and dinner pairings. So have soup for lunch and stir fry for dinner then the next day have sandwiches for lunch and spaghetti for dinner. Then have soup and spaghetti the third day and sandwiches and stir fry the fourth day. By the time you reach day 5, you can have soup and stir fry again and it won’t feel like you’re constantly eating the same things all the time. Another way to combat the boredom is to leave sauces out of the meals you cook and then add a new sauce to every meal.
You might want to start out by only meal planning for Monday through Wednesday just to get the hang of it. Then you can slowly start expanding. Some people will meal prep for an entire month at a time! How? They spend a whole weekend doing it and they have a whole lot of freezer space. Find a plan that works for you and go with it!