As someone who works a full-time job and has a side-hustle business, my schedule gets pretty full throughout the week. I totally understand the benefits of meal prep for someone like me. The healthier and fresh ingredients you can use along with controlling the amount of salt or sugar yourself, plus the leftovers are great for lunch the next day. So many wins!
However, the reality of actually completing meal prep isn't so simple. I get it that it’s not always easy to cook. I work full time, and I have kids. I don’t ever feel like getting together a meal when I am exhausted at the end of the day. I'm not gonna lie - I often fantasize about having a full-time chef at home. The bottom line is that I find the meal prepping situation overwhelming, k? Do you ever feel that way too?
Here’s why I’m not a huge fan of meal prepping: I used to meal prep on Saturday afternoons and would easily get distracted by something fun that would come up. Whenever I missed my meal prepping session, I felt like my week was going to be a disaster. Or, if I just felt like watching Netflix all day on Saturday and not meal prepping, I had this looming thing over my head that kept reminding me that I ‘should be’ making something.
I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune condition that requires me to watch what I eat, so preparing my food is super important to my health. Also, as I work a 9-5 job along with my work at Ponderlily, it’s handy bringing food from home instead of having to leave work to go through a drive-thru or sit around to wait for a table a restaurant.
After a few weekends of getting frustrated with the traditional way of meal prep, I decided to make a new way. I needed to make it accessible, simple, and fun or it wasn’t going to happen. It also had to work for me, my family, and my schedule.
Instead of sticking to a single day of meal prepping as I did previously, I fit my time in throughout my week whenever I have a few minutes to spare here and there.
Here is a look into my process!
Step One - I print a single page, a double-sided copy of our meal planning sheets from our printable library. I take my copy and tuck it into my planner, so I have it with me always through my week.
Step Two - When I find a short pocket of time, say about 10 minutes, I fill in my meal planning sheets. I usually do this while waiting for an appointment, during my lunch break at work, or at a coffee shop waiting for a friend. I account for days I might go out with my husband (so no cooking needed), days I might visit my parents (hello, leftovers from mum!), and we might be out the whole day as a family (and we'll eat out), and days when I know my family will love to have my signature dishes! Accounting for what you have planned for the week ahead will reduce the number of times you actually have to cook and reduce any food waste, too.
Step Three - Once I fill out my sheet, I make a list of what I need from the supermarket, and display my meal planning sheet on the fridge. I keep it there for future reference. This is an excellent solution whenever I am in a rut with the meals I prepare; I can look to my list for new ideas. Most times I cycle through weeks or alternate what I cook on certain days of the week.
Step Four - I always make sure to have easier meals and ingredients on rotation for days when my schedule is super busy, or the family has other commitments we have to get to. Usually, while one meal is cooking, I portion it to use it for a another meal (e.g.: if we're having Shepherd's pie one night, I use portion the filling for taco night the next, or add it to a bolognese sauce) take some time to look at what I have planned for the rest of the week on my calendar. That’s when my ‘meal prepping’ gets done.
I hope these tips and tricks help you and your family as well with your ‘meal prep!’ Be sure to visit the printable library to download your copy today to get started!