But we’ve got some tips for making meal prep easier and more affordable. So let’s dive right in.
Meal Prep Rule #1: Choose Foods That Will Last The Entire Week
On those hectic days when you’ve been working all day and the last thing you feel like doing is cooking a meal for the whole family, it’s tempting to pull out a frozen pizza. While putting a frozen pizza in the oven is an effective quick fix. The next night, you’ll likely be faced with the same situation, too exhausted to cook. And you don’t want to rely on frozen entrees to feed your family every night.
So when you go food shopping, over 90% of the items you put in your cart should be healthy foods that will yield enough portions for a whole week. Aside from going to a weekly farmer’s market to resupply certain in-season produce, you should only go to the supermarket once a week.
Here are some examples of foods to buy that will provide many leftover servings:
- Couscous (whole wheat)
- Brown or wild rice
- Corn (GMO-free)
- Buckwheat (for pancakes)
- 100% whole rye bread
- Steel-cut oats
Buy enough of these items so that you have enough leftovers for a week. There’s no reason with your busy schedule that you need to go to the supermarket more than once a week.
Choose organic, pasture-raised chicken or turkey, wild salmon, or 100% grass-fed beef. If you have an extra freezer in your home, buy meat in bulk online from an independent farm.
Roadside produce stands usually sell high-quality produce at relatively inexpensive prices because there is no mark-up fee as opposed to supermarket produce. Supermarkets inflate their prices on produce to offset spoilage costs as well as shipping fees. If you’ve ever wondered why a roadside vendor can sell 20 avocados for $5, now you know. Buy avocados in bulk to make guacamole for the whole family.
You’ll also want to buy berries in bulk. Berries are loaded with antioxidants and other phytonutrients that support the immune system and overall health. You can use berries for morning oatmeal, afternoon healthy smoothies and for dessert.
Farmers markets are ideal for purchasing green, leafy veggies for salads and green drinks. If you have any mason jars, you can store your salads in them for several days.
Meal Prep Rule #2: Pick One Day A Week To Cook & Live It Up
If you want to provide healthy meals for your family (or just yourself if you’re single) the easiest way to do it is to take one day per week for meal prep. For most people it’s on the weekend because there’s more free time.
Whenever you decide to cook in bulk, have fun while doing so. Listen to your favorite music, catch up with old friends on the phone, tune into a podcast or laugh along to stand-up comedy videos on YouTube. (As long as doing any of these doesn’t interfere with your cooking; you don’t want to get distracted and chop off a finger!)
Invest in very large pots so that you can cook, say, two whole boxes of quinoa at one time. Remember: the goal is to just cook once a week so that the other 6 days, all you have to do is nuke the leftovers in the microwave. Getting used to cooking multiple items at the same time requires a little practice. But within a short amount of time, you’ll feel like you’re effortlessly conducting a symphony orchestra in your kitchen.
While the water for the quinoa or other grain is heating up, prepare the salad. In addition to whatever leafy greens that will be the staple of the salad (spinach, kale, etc.) chop a handful of veggies like celery, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and cabbage. Go big! The salad should feed the family for at least a few days. Toss in a couple handfuls of nuts, seeds and berries. Make sure you do not add oil or vinegar to the salad otherwise it will get too soggy for leftovers.
Before the water for the grain comes to a boil, you should also preheat your oven to cook whatever meat you’d like to use for the week. You can also use this time to add any spices or oils to the meat.
Want healthy lunches for your kids at school? The last thing you want to do after you’ve been working all day, then putting the kids to bed and cleaning is preparing sandwiches for the next day when you’re exhausted. Instead, take the one day a week (again, weekends are usually best) to prepare sandwiches for the whole week. It may seem overwhelming to make 7 sandwiches at once (or 14 if you have 2 kids), but in reality, it doesn’t take that much more time. In no time, you’ll figure out a system where you’ll be like an efficient sandwich-cranking assembly line.
Meal Prep Rule #3: Use Crock Pots, Insta Pots & Rice Cookers
Cooking meals for the whole family has never been easier thanks to the inventions of quick-cooking appliances. Crock pots and insta pots are awesome for soups, casseroles and chili.
You can even use instant cookers (the name “insta” is kind of a misnomer; you do save time, but food is not made in an instant) to make oatmeal and eggs, which you can easily make for a whole week’s worth of breakfast.
These are just a few ideas for easy meal prep. Although weekends might be reserved for family time and running errands, spend a couple hours preparing meals so that you barely have to think about it the rest of the week. And don’t forget to have fun doing it!
And of course, if prepping your meals ahead of time doesn't sound appealing, let us do it for you! You can always have fresh, organic, healthy prepared, meals delivered to your door with Farm Fresh Meals. Check out our rotating menus for Monday or Thursday deliveries.