So as you guys know my kids are still pretty little. Oliver is 4, Lulu just turned 2 and Little Miss Baby J won’t be arriving until September. So the hustle and bustle of the weeknight activities hadn’t really hit us yet, until this season! Before this, I always kind of thought “why are you so stressed, it’s just an hour of _________ activity”
But I get it now, it’s not just the hour of X activity, it’s the packing up the kids, getting there, making sure their equipment is ready to go with their waterbottles, etc…. so the planning involved takes a lot of brain space. And that includes dinnertime! I can see how without planning, one could fall into the “takeout cycle”.
This gave me the idea to put together a quick post about what ingredients to prep ahead of time, to still make sure you can have a home cooked meal on these crazy nights. Check out the list below, if you have any other tips you think could be useful to us busy moms, please let us know in the comments!
- Vegetables: Vegetables is usually the most time consuming when it comes to preparing to cook dinner. It’s not necessarily hard, but it can take time to peel and chop, so do it ahead of time!! If you want to keep dinner simple with some grilled chicken and steamed broccoli, that’s great! Cut the broccoli ahead of time and store in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Planning on cooking stir-fry? That’s a great option! Chop all the vegetables before hand, store them in a big bowl in the fridge so they are ready to go come cook time. And guys don’t be ashamed to use frozen vegetables either. There are some amazing blends out there that can take your dinner from drab to fab in a heartbeat! Since I mentioned stir-fry it’s only appropriate to mention this crazy good Sugar Free Stir-Fry Sauce, if stir-fry is something you cook often, keep this sauce already made, it keeps up to 2 weeks!
- Grains: Grains are a simple one to have prepped ahead of time. You could simply cook them from the package before you leave the house, or buy them pre-cooked – usually from the freezer section – so all you have to do is heat and serve! Brown rice is something I almost always have in my freezer, it is a hearty and healthy grain but unfortunately takes a little while to cook. Having this pre-cooked and ready to heat has saved me sooooooooooo many times! Here are also some of my other favorite Time Saving Staples.
- Protein: Depending on what I am making is how I prepare my protein ahead of time. If I am cooking something quick and easy, like say a skillet meal, I will simply cut up my protein into chunks or strips and store in the fridge until it is ready to be cooked. If I am planning to serve something cold like a salad or a wrap, I simply cook my meat and have it ready for a topping as soon as I get home
Miscellaneous: Ok so you had the best intentions to have your dinner prepped before you left, so when you got home all you had to do was assemble, but your toddler had other plans, your dishwasher went caput all over the floor, the dog sprained his knee and you just didn’t get around to it! You laugh reading that, but you know those days happen, and happen way more frequently that we would like!!!! When you do your weekly grocery shopping make sure to pick up 3 things 1) Wraps – any kind you like Ezekiel, Spinach, Whole Wheat, no matter what it is that floats your boat 2) A package of pre-cut, pre-washed greens like a nice spring mix 3) A rotisserie chicken. Having these three items on hand at all times will save you the takeout run and ensure you can have a delicious and fresh salad or wrap waiting for you and your family.
Lastly, nowhere in the “healthy eating bible” does it say you NEED to eat breakfast at breakfast time, lunch at lunchtime and dinner at dinnertime! You can easily make some fried egg sandwiches topped with spinach and tomato in a pinch, or did you have some of my meal prep meals already done in the fridge for lunch? Why not just heat those up for dinner and then spend some extra time doing more meal prep the next day? The key here is to keep your food fresh and nutritious, not fancy and expansive. Keep it simple, keep fresh produce and lean meats on hand at all times and do the best you can, even on the craziest of weeknights.
Love you all,
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