Meal prep

12 Essential Meal Prep Tips for Busy Families

Meal prepping is an important step towards living a healthier and fit life. This is especially true, not only for us individually but also for our families. There is no doubt that having a balanced eating lifestyle is the main key to keep a healthy mind, body and soul. The thing is, many of us have busy schedules, and meal prepping efficiently is a challenge for some, especially when it comes to the whole family. But, meal prepping doesn’t have to be complicated. If you and your family are on a journey to stay fit and healthy, but somewhat still struggle with time and budget, here are some essential meal prep tips for busy families. 

  1. Meal prep tips 101: Planning ahead of time is key! 

Say that loud so the ones in the back can hear! How many often times have we heard that meal planning is essential when it comes to eating healthier? Yet, there is still some lack of consistency or we think that it’s hard. When you plan ahead of time, you ensure that you get all your food essentials together so that you can organize your meals. Also, planning helps you stay bound to your budget. It is also a huge time saver! Not planning is a risk for making last-minute poor food choices. You can also go over your budget. Lack of planning can also bring on unnecessary stress. Since you are looking to save time and money here, the best thing you can do is plan your meals and budget on time. Determine what works for your family, whether it is a weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly planning schedule. Personally, I plan my meals every week, usually just in time for when I do grocery shopping. 

  1. Choose food quality in all your meals 

When it comes to making food choices for eating healthier, food quality is a priority. Especially, when you are prepping for your kids. Make sure to include foods from all the food groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables (the bright coloured ones), protein (plant-based or animal-like eggs, fish and poultry), and healthy fats. Kids require an important dose of calcium and other minerals for healthy growth, so don’t forget to add dairy products to that list. There are many choices that kids love, especially yogurt brands. Also, check food labels and nutrition value. 

  1. Meal prep tips 101: Stick to your budget 

Being busy requires you to pay special attention to your budget as well. There is limited time to be shopping every minute or overspending. Therefore, keep an eye on your budget for your family groceries. Take a list of the essential items with you. Choose fresh produce when possible. I love going to the farmer’s market, as it is very cost-effective. Also, take advantage of items that may be on discount or promotion. You can find a lot of these at your local market. 

  1. Buy in bulk whenever you can 

Buying in bulk is another essential step in meal prep tips. When you buy in bulk, you not only save money but also time. It’s a huge relief to know that you can purchase items like cereals, grains or other non-perishable foods. You can get a lot of good bargains at your local stores. 

  1. Get your kids involved in meal planning and/or prepping 

I so love this one! Getting your kids active in meal planning and prepping makes things not only easier for you, but fun for them. As well, it’s a simple way to teach them how to eat healthier. You can let them choose the foods they like the most so you add them to the shopping list and recipes. Another hack with meal prep tips is to allow your kids to be active in the kitchen. Let them do small chores, like washing the fruits or vegetables. No matter how messy it can be at the beginning, they will love it and value what they eat! 

  1. Meal prep tips key: Choose a schedule that works for you 

Time management is important when it comes to busy people. Creating a schedule around your meal prepping should be a must. I usually use Saturday mornings for grocery shopping. On Sunday afternoons, I can do meal prepping. The thing is to organize yourself efficiently so that it doesn’t become a hassle to cook your meals. 

  1. Food safety is essential for healthy families! 

Whenever you think of meal prep tips, consider food safety. This is essential not only to prevent waste but also to save time and money. The less food you waste, the better off you’ll be with your budget and your health overall. Keep an eye on expiration dates, how you pack your food on the fridge, be mindful of cooking temperatures. Also, keep kitchen cooking items sanitized at all times. Kids are sensitive to contaminated food. You can learn more about it here. Ensure safety first! 

  1. Meal prep tips essential: Be creative 

There is always room for creativity! I included this in my favourite meal prep tips guide because kids hate boredom! So, it’s important that you switch things up once in a while. There are many ways to eat fruits and veggies, for example. If your kids’ struggle with eating their veggies, cut them into chunks and make creative figures with them. Kids also prefer raw veggies over cooked ones. Raw carrots or celery sticks, for instance, have that crunchy sensation in the mouth, and kids love it! 

  1. Use leftovers effectively 

How to use leftovers is also an essential part of meal prep tips. Use those chicken thighs or drumsticks to create nice chicken soup the next day. Or, you can shred the chicken pieces and add them to a sandwich. The same thing goes with veggies. You can easily combine them with some fruits and create a delicious smoothie. Casseroles and other dishes can be done with leftovers, without taking much of your time. 

  1. Go for quick easy meals 

There are many delicious meals you can create in less than 30 minutes. Here you can find some easy recipes. Meal prepping in advance will help you spend less time in the kitchen. Look for recipes that have a high nutritional value (include all food groups), and that can be prepared quickly. Kids usually love pasta, raw salads, meatballs, or even main dishes like chicken and fish in sauce. Sautee veggies are also a tasty option. 

  1. Get those kids snacks prepped too! 

Snacks should also be included. I added this to the meal prep tips because we often forget about the snacks. This happens a lot when we are getting our kids’ lunchboxes ready for school. If you are going to add some celery stalks with some cheese dip, for example, make sure the veggies are prepped in advance. Fruits have the advantage that they require little prepping, but if you are going to put some pineapple chunks or melon dices, those need to be prepped ahead of time. 

  1. Time saver hack: Foods that should be prepped in advance 

The key to meal prep tips: Here are some foods that will save you a lot of time when prepared in advance. For breakfast: Overnight oats, eggs, smoothie ingredients (chopped fruits, or leafy greens). Lunchtime: Chicken portions, meat, and fish. Grains like beans, and lentils. Veggies. Salad ingredients, including dressings. Check out how to make salads in a jar. For dinner: Soups and casseroles. Slow cooker meals and instant pot meals. Bowls are also considered important here. 

In short… 

Take these meal prep tips for busy families as part of your regular healthy eating regimen. They will make your life so much easier. Besides saving time and money, you will have a more balanced healthy eating lifestyle. Effective planning, making proper food choices, creating different recipes and food safety are the main things to consider when meal prepping for the entire family. If you are busy and you’re looking to become efficient with meal prepping, involve your kids and even your spouse to make things easier and more fun. 

I would love to hear your experience when meal prepping for your family. Enter your thoughts in the comment section below. Remember that sharing is caring! 

About the author

Zola Johnson

Z. Johnson is a Registered Nutritionist and Cosmetologist. She has been an advocate for healthy nutrition, beauty and lifestyle for more than 5 years. Z. Johnson is also dedicated to motivate and empower people to strive towards a better version of their wellbeing. She is passionate about educating people on self-care, sharing experiences and best tips to achieve healthier lifestyle goals.

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