I know I can’t be the only one with a never ending to-do list and a laundry basket that is never empty!
As a busy homeschool mom, there is one thing I’ve always realized time is not my friend. That being “caught up” is just a myth and if I do ever reach it I promise to take a photo and show you what it looks like, OK?
Therefore anything that can save me time and will make my life easier is always a bonus in this working homeschool momma’s life.
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One surefire way to cut some time off my never ending weekly schedule is meal prepping.
Now I know you are groaning and complaining because seriously meal prepping sounds like such a drag. And a lot of work, and to top it all off it sounds boring.
But I promise the benefits out weight any of these seeming downsides.
First of all: Lots of things we do every day are a drag but we do them anyway. Yes, doing dishes is a drag but I like clean dishes to eat off. Ask my kids when I make them rewash the dishes that are not clean. #lifeskills
I like clean clothes so I do laundry trust me I can think of a million other things I’d rather be doing but alas I like clean clothes. (Also I would love to know what the bottom of my hamper looks like someday)
Just like I like to eat lunch so I meal prep. Sure I could grab fast food but if I ate that day in and day out it would, one make me sick and two add up.
If I could just grab my lunch and go, and skip the getting sick part, why not?
As for being work, again we do what we must. Yes, it is work but it also saves work later. Cooking everything at once means I don’t have to stress, worry or starve! It’s all in one place and done.
As for the boring part, I do try to fix that.
We try to make it a family affair. Adding children or a spouse keeps it from being boring. My husband and I use this time to plan, catch up on what is going on for the week and reconnect. I add in the kids if I am up for repeating myself and well…teenagers and food are always entertaining.Meal Prepping for Busy Mom's Made Easy! #ihsnet #workingmom #homeschool Click To Tweet
Why should you want to meal prep?
Before we get into how to meal prep and what you need along with ideas, let’s discuss why you should want to meal prep in the first place.
One reason is it saves time. Time is one of those funny things that as we save it we tend to fill in the time we save with “other things”. The time saved meal prepping allow us to spend it with our families.
A second reason we should want to meal prep is it allows is to have control over what we eat. Eating healthier helps us feel better. Eating junk makes you feel tired and gross. Both can be grab and go, which will you choose?
A third reason is as busy mom’s we need to take care of ourselves. You might not think you have time to eat healthly but a common saying asks, “do you have time to be sick?” The time spent preparing healthy food for you is time well spent.
So what do you need to make meal prepping a success?
As we struggle with lunches the most this is the meal we prep each week.
You need 3 basic things:
- A list of foods you plan on making, I recommend taking the time to brainstorm with your family or those eating the prepped meals on what they want in their lunches. We aim for a carbohydrate, protein, and veggie.
- Containers, we use plastic containers. I love them so much I wrote an entire post about it. (ha!)
- Time. We like to use Sunday or Monday afternoon to cook. You will need to set aside time to do the cooking but once it is done, it is done! Ya!
List of foods:
I recommend sitting down and brainstorming with your family or those eating the lunches you are making and figuring out what you want to make. For us, we choose our carbs, protein, and veggies. We both have access to microwaves and a fridge so we take that into consideration.
So grab a notebook, sheet of paper or an app and get a list of each one that works for you! (or click here and use our sheet No email required)
Food Storage Containers:
You can learn more about the reasons I recommend the following containers by reading this post: What’s For Dinner? Kitchen Superstar: Food Storage Containers!
Although most prefer glass, I prefer plastic for being light weight, easy to clean, microwave safe, and they don’t break if dropped. They are also not only lightweight but low cost and easier to store. However many are worried about BPA’s in plastic but you can find plastic storage containers that are BPA free! So no worries. My absolute favorite set my husband got me is
I share the ones we are currently using in this video here! The other ones I want to pick up are EasyLunchboxes, you get a set of four colorful containers, and a friend who used them says they are awesome for little fingers!
So use what works for you and your family!
We use a Sunday afternoon or Monday afternoon depending on what else we have going on. This time period works for us as we often get groceries on Saturday’s. We have to cook and put the food in the containers or it goes missing. It’s called Teenagers! Once the food is in the containers the children know they are not allowed to eat our lunches.
So take a look at your schedule and see where you can fit 45 minutes to an hour in your week to cook. What days do you get groceries? Can you get the kids to help out? Even little ones can hand you veggies and wash them. This way you get to spend time catching up with your family while you take the time to look after you!
We don’t use recipes in our meal prep. We choose one of each and put them in the container, however, I wanted to share ideas with you to make this a little easier.
(shared the recipe here) I will include the pin here for to make it a bit easier!
Sweet Potatoes: We love sweet potatoes for our lunches. We do them normally two ways.
Microwave: Take your potatoes, scrub it, poke holes by jabbing it with a fork numerous times. Great way to release stress 😉 Then wrap the potato with a clean wet cloth, microwave 5-6 minutes and test to see how tender it is, add more time if needed. Slice lengthwise and add to your container. You can also peel it easily and chop.
Oven Sweet Potatoes: Wash, peel, and chop into cubes roughly the same size. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Add potatoes to a bowl and add oil and spices, (we love Mrs. Dash), mix and add to a greased or parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Flip and test. Continue baking until soft.
Chicken: This is our main source of protein in our lunches. We use boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs. We bake both and the potatoes above at the same time. I would never have tried this but my husband does it all the time, so do what works for you.
Chicken Breasts: Remove skin if not skinless. Toss in oil and spices as desired, bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Be careful as they like to dry out so check your oven temperature.
Chicken Thighs: These are greasy so we use a broiler pan to drain the grease off. If you don’t have one, using a cooling rack with a cookie sheet will work. Add spices or bbq sauce and bake for 15-20 minutes, keep an eye on them so as not to dry them out.
We add cooked rice with the thighs.
Recipes from around the web:
I also love to have on hand a great list of quick easy and healthy (ish) recipes that I can use for supper time. Here is a great list to get your personal recipe library started:
APPLE BACON PECAN CINNAMON ROLL BAKE
Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs Recipe
If you want to turn this into a family activity and teach your children some math, get some great ideas from You Really CAN Homeschool.