Well, here it is...Sunday again and that means 1 thing…
**I know I’ve written about this before, but a little refresher never hurt anyone! And...it’s a CONSTANT learning experience…!**
Now, we’re not just talking grocery shopping and planning out the “family dinner” each weeknight...we’re talking about looking at the crazy work/activity schedules for each household member that particular week and planning meals & snacks accordingly…with the following questions in mind:
How many mornings does mom/dad/kid #1/kid #2 need a grab & go breakfast…?
How many days will anyone be home for lunch?
How many days will a microwave be accessible at lunchtime?
How many days will a mid-day meal be stored in a cooler for several hours and need to be ready-to-eat?
Will we all be at home for dinner any night this week?
How many nights will mom need a ‘between coaching classes’ meal?
How many nights will the kids need a dinner at the gym while mom is coaching?
How many nights will dad need a hearty post-workout meal when he returns home late after working all day, then working out?
What kinds of between-meal snacks do the family want/need this week?
Are there leftovers from last week?
Did I make too much?
Did they not like that dish?
And then, there’s the consideration of everyone’s specific dietary needs and/or meal plan..
...someone wants higher fat
...someone needs gluten-free
...someone needs less dairy
...someone is a pain and won’t eat a vegetable unless it’s hidden and undetectable.
...you get the idea.
Sometimes this task seems nearly impossible….and like a terrible headache ‘waste’ of a Sunday that should be reserved for resetting and refreshing for a new week ahead…
But it’s not.
It’s quite the opposite.
Each Sunday is a new chance to show the family that ‘mom is listening’ and attempt to ‘wow’ them with new ideas and/or food combinations or...improve/perfect family favorites.
It’s not easy at first...I remember losing no less than 7 hours in the kitchen on any given Sunday prepping foods for the week. However, over time, I learned some shortcuts...and came to the realization that no matter what I make, if they want to eat...they’ll eat what I make!
So, this week I’d like to help by reminding everyone once again of a few things I’ve learned to make this huge and VERY IMPORTANT weekly task of meal-prepping for the whole crew more manageable, efficient and enjoyable!
Write it out….everything. Make a grid and decide how many meals/snacks you need for each day of the week. Write reminders of special needs/requests. List the dishes you want to make, the vegetables you need to wash & prep, the macros you need to hit for meal combinations….etc. Most importantly, go to the grocery store with a LIST! I keep a notebook on my kitchen counter with all this info readily-available and a running grocery list for the next trip to Aldi.
Have go-to staples that your family can expect to see in the fridge weekly. For us, it’s ground turkey taco meat, turkey sausage patties, shredded chicken breast, baked sweet potatoes, deli meats and grab & go fruits & vegetables.
Have all vegetables and fruits cleaned and prepped...maybe even portioned out, too. These things will sit and rot if they’re not ready-to-eat! I currently have the most delicious black grapes in my fridge that remain untouched by my family simply because I didn’t pull them off the stem for them! Whole cucumbers won’t be touched...but sliced cucumbers don’t stand a chance.
Have a good mix of pre-made & portioned meals in microwave-ready containers AND mix & match components for meals available, too. I always build the kids a few premade burrito bowls each week, but also have a container of taco meat that they can use to make quesadillas, nachos, or whatever else they want with it. I will also have baked sweet potatoes, chicken breasts, quinoa, roasted vegetables, etc. in separate containers; ready for build-your-own dinner delight.
Be adventurous in the kitchen. Don’t be limited by the recipe. (I use VERY FEW real recipes for meals…) Branch out...try new things! Keep your family on their toes! What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t like it...they’ll tell you and you’ll document it and know not to make that again. #meh
Encourage your family to try different spices/condiments to kick-up flavor combinations. Kid #2 loves buffalo sauce on EVERYTHING...often requests buffalo cauliflower before bed! We also use a lot of lime juice/zest and red pepper flake to keep things interesting! Try this one: Buffalo Cauliflower ‘Wings’
Don’t approach meal-prepping as a ‘chore’ but rather make it an experience every week! Invite the kids to help with the shopping, prep and plating of meals. Ask for their input...have them taste-test.
Meal prep with friends...make it a social event, take selfies, have some laughs and make memories. Building relationships with friends who are like-minded, with common goals...it’ll keep you accountable and it’s FUN!
Seek inspiration from the greats like Bobby Flay & Michael Symon...nothing like watching an episode of Iron Chef to get your pumped up for some time in the kitchen! Join recipe share groups (330 Recipe Share ), InstantPot or KitchenAid idea pages, search Pinterest and ASK others for help and support! Sooooo many resources are available...you just need to look!
Finally, repeat after me: ‘Alexa, play Prince’ ...last blog I said Bruno Mars...but it’s been more Prince for me lately! ;)
Ultimately, it’s like anything else...it just takes practice. It will get easier through trial and error. Don’t be intimidated by the task. Break it down into small, manageable pieces. Maybe start by only prepping lunch for the week, then add another meal the next week, then maybe a couple snacks…and so on.
You CAN make/find the time if it’s important to you.
Yes, we’re all busy...but it’s THAT important.
Clean, well-balanced meals are a non-negotiable….the family deserves it and so do YOU!
Please reach out for support and/or ideas at any time!
Happy meal-prepping, all!
Dentlers’ menu this week:
-proteins: salmon, shrimp, ground turkey (taco meat & breakfast sausage), chicken breasts, deli meats
-carbs: whole wheat pasta elbows, whole grain flatbreads, baked sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, quinoa
-veggies: cucumbers slices, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, celery sticks, baby spinach, canned green beans, homemade pasta sauce
-fruits: blueberries, bananas
-fats: avocados, feta cheese, peanut butter (of course!)