By Norma Huxter
I know, I know. It sounds daunting and overwhelming to think about prepping enough food to get you through a week in just a few hours. But not only is it doable, it makes life so much easier.
For years, most every Sunday evening, I have made a huge mess in my kitchen, but we are fed for just about a week. I often jokingly say that this is the only way we survive. Maybe that should be a half-jokingly, because I genuinely don’t know how we would not starve if I didn’t start this practice all those years ago.
My Sunday evening meal prep has evolved over the years from large-batch freezer meals to crockpot meals, to individual containerized meals ready to go, to the well-oiled machine it is today, which I will share more details about my current process later.
First, let me give you the basics to help you get started.
When you start learning how to meal prep, it’s important to know what your family enjoys and what your goal is with your meal prepping.
Ask yourself these questions:
Am I doing this to save time during the week?
Am I doing this to avoid reaching for takeout or convenience foods as often?
Am I doing this because I want to improve my family’s nutrition?
Answering these questions will help you determine which method of meal prep will work best for you. I have some tips to help you get started and will share a bit about what works best for me at this stage in life, which is basically a combination of things.
Instead of jumping in feet first, here are several suggestions to help get you started with meal prepping!
When you cook a meal, double it.
If you make a casserole, double your recipe and freeze one for later. After a long day a work, it’s nice to come home to a delicious home cooked meal that you just have to warm up.
Cook something with what you have on hand.
If you have a spare hour or two, cook something with what you have on hand. Maybe make a batch of meatballs or spaghetti sauce. Again, freeze it for another day.
Experiment with crockpot freezer meals.
Pinterest is full of great recipes for this. You can assemble all the items needed for a stew, chili, the list is endless really, throw them in a freezer ziplock bag, and take them out when you need them. Let them defrost a little, put them in your crockpot and you’re good to go!
These are just a few suggestions. I could spend days talking about meal prepping as it’s been a huge part of my life for the past 10 years and one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. This is what I have found to work the best for me and my household. I have used this method for a few years now and it never gets boring or repetitive. I still make double batches and freeze for certain recipes, and at the start of the school year, I always stock the freezer with casseroles, sauces, breakfast wraps, and baked goods. But every Sunday I take great joy in filling my fridge with good, wholesome food to get us through the week. I sometimes do a mini-prep on Thursday because we always run out of carrots and fruit. But that’s not a bad problem to have.
Here is a good place to start your meal prep from wherever you are.
First, look at what you have on hand and think about what you’d like to eat throughout the week. Make a plan for the grocery store. Select 3–4 protein options, 5–6 veggie options, 3–4 fruit options, some fiber-filled carbs and some healthy fats. Think about different types of foods that you could put together for a meal, like a stir-fry or salad. Keep in mind that the number of food selections and portions need to be tailored to your home, your family’s preferences, and nutritional needs.
Here’s what a typical food prep would look like at my house:
all cooked and ready to eat
washed, chopped, some cooked, some not
Chopped honeydew melon
Washed berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries)
Whole grain rice
High protein tortilla wraps
How these groups of prepared foods help:
Throughout the week, we have snacks prepped and ready to eat.
Fruits and veggies are ready to go into smoothies.
Meals can be on the table in minutes—pick a protein, some veggies, and a carb and you’re all set!
With veggies prepped you can quickly put together an omelet, a stir-fry or salad.
You are even ready for pizza night or taco night!
There are a few other things I do to ensure we stay on the better side of our nutrition.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for having treats, but I am also all for having enough energy to get through these demanding days. And good food is how we do that. In addition to having a good variety of healthy foods ready to eat, I keep the freezer stocked with:
frozen berries and veggies
ready to go meals from the days I doubled up my recipes
Meal prep isn’t always so much about a million containers and a day-long marathon of cooking—it’s about being prepared. There are many ways to do this for yourself, and only you know what will work in your home. Just don’t be intimidated...you can do this!
Now it's your turn!
What other ideas do you have? Let us know in the comments!
Be sure and take photos of yourself as meal prep like a pro, share on Instagram, and tag us @OurStory.Magazine!
Norma Huxter is a mom, nurse, health and wellness coach, backyard farmer, and outdoor enthusiast. She has a passion for empowering women from all backgrounds, a desire to see those living with trauma be restored, and a mission to help all who desire to live their happiest, healthiest life. She believes that what our world needs to see and feel is love in action, not just in word. Norma lives in Northern Canada with her lovely daughter, and two rescue dogs. You can find her somewhere enjoying the fresh air, creating and eating good food, or curled up at home, where she loves to be most of all.
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