Congratulations for making it this far! You’re almost done 😉
Food Prep List
The final component of my meal planning printables is a section designated to food prep. When you are finalizing your grocery list, jot down tasks that would make your meals- and life- easier! For me, my food prep lists usually consists of things like:
- Cooking a big batch of potatoes, sweet potatoes, or some other side to go with eggs for breakfast
- Making several salads and homemade salad dressing for my husband & me to take to work with our lunches
- Cooking/chopping food & freezing it in portions
Speaking of Freezing
That last bullet above is the majority of my food prep and deserves a post of its own, really! The art of freezing has been a huge lesson for me in meal planning. Not only does it cut down on my cooking time during the week, it also allows me to keep things fresh and non-perishable! Here are my favorite tips:
- Cook large batches of brown rice, beans, legumes and other items that take forever to cook when dry, and bag them into portions for each meal. Buying these dry is cheaper and healthier than any instant rice or canned beans, but cooking them in one batch saves a ton of time! You can even cook it in the crockpot.
- Portion larger meats, as well! For meat like chicken thighs, I separate it raw, which means I only have to thaw what I need for each meal later. Other meats I cook, then freeze. For example, one of my favorite things to do is to add several chicken breasts to the crockpot, and easily shred it up when cooked. I separate it into bags so I am ready to go for many of our favorite Mexican recipes- just add the seasoning 🙂
- Dice & freeze fresh vegetables. I try to stay away from canned veggies (except for tomatoes) since canning decreases the nutritional value and often includes additives. Instead I buy them fresh, and wash, chop, and freeze them in portioned bags. For example, I always do this with celery. I only use a small amount in soups here and there, so I will buy a stalk, dice it up, and store it in the freezer for weeks! I’ve even started throwing whole bags of spinach in the freezer if I know I’ll need it for a dish or soup later.
(A side note for frozen veggies- consider first if the price is right for you to purchase certain frozen veggies from the store. I find that I don’t mind buying cauliflower, sugar snap peas, frozen sweet peas, and corn already frozen.)
Reaping the Reward
While it may seem time-consuming at first, I’ve really come to appreciate the reward for these couple hours of labor when meals come together so quickly each night! In business school, they called it economies of scale and it really does make a difference 🙂 What is your favorite way to save time and stress?
Want the rest of the series, the printables, and a fast-track system to get you meal planning?