By Kate Horney
Yes, I want to serve my family hot, healthy, home-cooked meals. BUT…
Being a busy mom as well as a business owner, wife, friend, etc. means that I wear a lot of hats and I don’t always (read: rarely ever) have time to spend an hour or two in the kitchen every night…
If this sounds like you, read on!
Recently I shared the 4 P’s of meal prep but for the weeks where you’ve failed to plan (but don’t want to plan to fail) here are a few quick tricks we (as busy moms) can keep up our sleeves to make the healthy dinner rush a little easier.
3 Quick Tips for Mommy Meal Prep:
1) Cook once, eat twice! Even if you don’t have a few hours to spend in the kitchen doing traditional “meal prep” every week, you can still save time by practicing “save a step” cooking. If you’re like me, anything you can do to save time will help.
Need to chop an onion for a healthy dinner recipe? Why not throw the entire bag in the food processor and freeze what you don’t use! You’ll have chopped onion ready for a quick grab all month long. MUCH easier than chopping ½ an onion at a time 1-2 nights per week!
When it comes to protein, it’s much faster to brown a couple pounds of ground turkey and freeze the extra (then pull that out for taco salad night!). I never ever cook less than an entire pack of chicken. The chicken will eventually become the main protein source for healthy wraps, fajitas, protein packed pizzas, chili salad toppings and more!
You may also consider cooking double portions of whatever healthy meals you’re making for dinner and freezing extras for a quick grab & go freezer meal or reheating the leftovers for lunch!
2) Embrace the crock pot. When Patrick and I first got married, we registered for a crock pot without truly knowing what to do with it. It sat in a closet until just recently…and now, you’ll find it out on my counter at least 1-2x per week! A crock pot is a busy mom’s best friend for a couple of reasons. First, it allows you to start dinner in the morning while it’s still quiet, relatively calm, and before the madness of the day starts. This saves time in the already busy and stressful afternoons and evenings and is a great way to “fix it and forget it,” allowing you to check one thing off your to-do list before the kids are even out of bed. I often start my crock pot chicken dinners Sunday morning before anyone in the house has even woken up! This makes my evenings – when Jackson refuses to be put down and I have a million and one other things that need to be done – at least a little bit more relaxing.
In addition to getting dinner done in the morning, embracing your crock pot is also a huge budget saver. Crock pots are the key to transforming inexpensive, sometimes tough cuts of meat into tender, fall-off-the-fork morsels. You know how I love a good steak, but chances are that even the least expensive cuts of meat in your butcher’s case will still be delicious in the crock pot!
3) Make it “Fit Family” Fun. Let your kids help with menu planning, and if he’s willing, get your husband involved. One key to stressing less about healthy dinners is enlisting some help. In addition to asking for help picking out healthy recipes, if your children are old enough, you may also consider enlisting their help by actually assigning them a night each week to help with meal prep. Depending on their age (remember, safety first) kids may be able to chop, stir, or mix with you!
Jackson’s not old enough to help yet, but I have gotten Patrick on board, and we’ve turned making healthy dinners into a fun activity that we can do together. It’s a great way to spend quality time together, and there’s just something awesome about sitting down to a home-cooked, healthy dinner at the end of the long day. It definitely beats a last minute frozen pizza!
BONUS: Here are 7 recipes to get you started:
- Hard-boil/bake (did you know you can bake eggs in the OVEN) some eggs for breakfast, snack, or to use for fat loss friendly deviled eggs!
- Use your crockpot for buffalo chicken and place it a covered container to use throughout the week for wraps, salads, or low-carb quesadillas.
- Protein pancakes are always a staple in my house and they take just minutes to make. I will make a double batch Sunday night to use for breakfast, snacks, or dinner. Then if any are leftover after a few days (rarely happens) I will freeze them.
- Protein muffins are great to have for snack and breakfast on the go! Most muffins can be made in 30-40 minutes and use a lot of the same ingredients as pancakes so go ahead and make them at the same time.
- Chili is great to make ahead, and you can always freeze whatever you have leftover so we always make a double batch!
- Breakfast cookies have only a few ingredients and take a couple minutes to throw together. I usually make enough for two days. I have breakfast ready for two days and it only takes me 5 minutes Sunday night? That’s my kind of meal!
- Homemade guacamole is something I’ve starting making recently. I can’t believe I never made before but now that I do I can’t go back to store bought. It takes just minutes and it’s absolutely delicious! Then I can use it on wraps, taco salad, as a veggie dip, and more!
If you need more healthy, family friendly recipes, we’ve got plenty more for you in the BeyondFit Life Club Member’s Portal!
Click HERE to register and join other busy moms worldwide on the quest to live healthy, happy & balanced lives!