Let’s talk about meal preparation and ways that I try to stay organized with food and meals.
If we are anything alike then that means preparation of meals gets overwhelming and frustrating. Half the battle is knowing, what to make. Once you have decided on that, and maybe even were organized enough to have a meal plan for a whole week, Sunday still shows up again. Then it’s back to the famous question…what should I make for supper? Or lunch? Or whichever meal seems to be the hardest for you to make and plan for. For us, we usually will have leftovers or something easier during the week for lunch and then supper is our main meal. This is the meal that I try to be ready and serve something more substantial. Here we go! My Best Tips for Meal Preparation.
Take out meat ahead of time.
Even if you don’t know what you are going to make yet, just having the protein source decided helps jumpstart an idea and you can run with it. Make it part of your bedtime or morning routine. That way it is just automatic. Let’s say you get home late from work and you are feeling burnt out from the day and then you remember it’s time to make supper. Wait a second, you have hamburger already thawing! Great! So now you can just throw together a hotdish, make spaghetti, or grill out. By having meat out, you have already taken a lot of the decision work out of meal preparation for that night!
If you wouldn’t have had that meat out, the options are endless and overwhelming. It is so much harder to narrow down what to make and when this happens you will probably end up with a quesadilla…at least that’s my experience. Sometimes when I find myself in this predicament, I will make Alfredo. My husband would rather have it without chicken so in our family it is a quick go to meal.
If you have never made homemade Alfredo sauce I challenge you to try! It’s pretty simple and it is a quick thing to make. In my opinion it tastes way better than what you can find in a jar in the grocery store.
Double batch a meal and freeze when you can.
This is something I started doing after the birth of our little girl. I had made some freezer meals before my due date so that we would have some things handy on those crazy days. Man, were they life savers! Huge time and sanity saver during such a busy time of life – the meal preparation is all done. You just have to warm whatever you made in advance up. It is so nice when you are tired and trying to get in a routine, to have meals you can just throw in the oven, or on the stove and heat up.
Some of my family had gotten together and made us a bunch of meals which was so great and appreciated. My mother-in-law brought us food and also people from the community. Such a blessing! Side Note: If you know of someone having a baby it is such a blessing to receive a freezer meal. I would recommend it as a unique gift option.
Okay, so back to what I was saying. After realizing how convenient it was I decided that when I could, I would double what I was making and freeze a meal for those times that you don’t want to cook, or are just not prepared to make something quick.
Also, if you are working full time out of the home and trying to save money having these meals in the freezer makes it a lot less tempting to go out to eat on a whim.
Here are a couple examples of foods that freeze well:
Soups (If they have noodles just leave them out until they are reheated)
Tater Tot Hotdish (Leave the Tater tots off until ready to bake)
Chicken Pot Pie (Freeze the filling and make the topping/crust when ready to eat)
Meatballs (For meatballs and gravy, spaghetti and meatballs, meatball sandwich, etc…)
Chili either made with beef or Chicken Chili
Lasagna (This works really well)
Cookies (more on cookies below)
BBQ Chicken or other seasoned/marinated pulled meat
Keep Bread and Desserts Stocked Always
So at any given time throughout the last 4, almost 5 years we have been married, I have the freezer stocked with the famous Chocolate Chip Cookie. Rarely would you be able to open my freezer and not see them sitting there waiting to be thrown in the microwave on defrost for let’s say 60ish seconds. (Tastes like it came straight out of the oven. Yum!) This works great for dessert for lunch, a quick snack or if you have a surprise visitor.
I have done other cookies and you can sure try other types but the chocolate chip cookie is our staple cookie.
Bread hasn’t been a staple for as long in our freezer but as of recently with going to a flex position at work and staying home full time with our little girl I have added bread baking to my routine.
It is so much better for you. Less sodium for one! I usually like to have one loaf we are eating that week, and then an extra in the freezer. If I am really organized I will even bake buns and have them ready to go for the sandwich seasons aka – planting/harvest.
Even if I think I will be using buns a lot that week I will still put them all in the freezer. I feel this helps them to not dry out so bad. Then, I will just pull what I need for that meal out of the freezer and defrost them in the microwave.
Having these two things in the freezer already makes your job easier and baked goods and homemade bread can really take any meal and make it tasty and something to look forward too.
Fruit and Vegetable Preparation
All this talk about baked goods is making me feel like it’s time to get to some healthy food options. I say healthy but that doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty as well! I really do enjoy fruits and vegetables and I feel like it is a shame that they get such a bad rap. Honestly I think God made them to revitalize our bodies, give us energy and help keep us healthy. Think about it! Watermelon, ripe strawberries, juicy peaches, plump dark cherries! They are so beautiful and basically candy that has true health benefits. While vegetables aren’t as sweet they bring a colorful, refreshing and wholesomeness to a plate that can’t be beat.
Stop reading right now and think about your fruit/vegetable options in your kitchen. Did you stop reading because you were supposed to……I’ll wait while you think.
Okay, now that you have thought about it. Did you come up with at least 3 of each? If not then you haven’t been to the grocery store in a while or you should maybe try to challenge yourself to buy and eat more fruits and vegetables. There are tons of ways you can eat them and so many different kinds!
When I go to the store, about once a week, maybe once every other week; I try to buy at least two different fresh fruit options. Almost always one of those fruit options are bananas or apples and the second option is a fruit that is in season that time of year. Having just these two options really helps me improve our family’s fruit intake. You must take time to prepare it though. This is so important…fruit will do no good molding in your fridge. Be diligent and push yourself. I have to push myself to prepare it; it doesn’t just come easy every time.
Vegetables….hmmm now these I honestly struggle more with than fruit. In the summer when the garden is producing, I don’t have as hard of a time because there are tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, etc to devour. Other times of the year raw carrots seem to be my go to. I haven’t quite reached my goal but I am trying to tell myself to always have a vegetable prepared for the supper meal. Then if all else fails that day, we got 1serving of vegetables.
I wanted to share something with you about one of my favorite vegetables: Buttercup squash freezes excellent! So if you plant it in your garden, get it from a family or friend’s garden, or buy it at your local farmer’s market/grocery store; I encourage you to try it. I will usually try to bake them up and put them in freezer bags once we have harvested them from our garden. They make for a great supper vegetable option. Plus, if you have a baby in the house it is a great option for them to eat as well!
Freeze Cooked Meat
My last meal preparation tip for you guys is to cook meat and freeze it. This tip would work for all kinds of meat. For us I will usually just try to do it with chicken breasts and hamburger.
We get chicken breasts when we go to Sam’s club. There are probably about 7-8 chicken breasts in a package. I will usually just freeze half and then I will cook up the other half and freeze those in another freezer bag.
Hamburger is pretty self-explanatory, but it does make a huge difference when you need something quick. Even if it is just 2-4 pounds that you have cooked and frozen, it will come in handy.
We went over tips for meal preparation that work for us. I would love to know your tricks and processes. I love new inspiration! It’s fun to learn from others. Comment below with all your thoughts; what you already do to make meal prep easier, and what you would like to try!
One more thought before I go…
At some point I hope to share recipes with you; let me know if you would like that. You can comment below your thoughts and what recipes you’d like!
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. Genesis 1:29