People often ask me how I have time to meal prep each week. Well, first of all–full disclosure–I don’t exactly prep ALL my meals! But, I do manage to prep breakfast and lunch most weeks and I plan out dinners. How do I fit that all in? Here’s my process:
- Thursday evening: While the girls are at piano lessons, I sit in the car and plan out dinners for the week. I review our calendar for the upcoming week to determine which nights need to be crockpot meals and which ones I’ll have time to cook. I never cook anything that takes more than 30 or 40 minutes on weeknight because we just don’t have that kind of time! As I decide on dinners, I add the recipe links to the Google calendar and copy and paste the ingredients into a Word doc or onto my grocery shopping notepad. I choose dinners based on the ingredients we have, plus I try to use a variety of proteins to keep things interesting and varied. I also choose a lunch prep for the week. Sometimes I have the same thing for four days. Sometimes, I plan to have dinner leftovers or sandwiches. I add those ingredients to my list, too.
- Thursday evening or Friday: I do my grocery shopping online either early in the morning or during my lunch hour at work, and have it delivered Friday evening. In addition to the dinner ingredients, I get the staples, stuff for my son’s lunch, and other various items the kids like to eat during the week.
- Sunday: I prep my breakfast and lunch (if I’m making something). I usually do it in the afternoon and I make sure it’s something I can do in under an hour. Breakfast is usually overnight oats, or instant pot steel cut oats, chia pudding, or egg muffins.
- Weeknights: I try to prep some items the night before, especially crockpot meals. For example, if I’m having stew, I’ll cut up the veggies the night before so all I have to do is dump it in the crockpot the next morning.
All told, meal prepping takes me a total of 2 and a half hours in a week. Because I’m already sitting in the car for an hour, the planning doesn’t cut into anything else. Sundays are sometimes a drag to meal prep but I always feel better after I do it and it keeps me eating well throughout the week. While I’m cooking dinner each evening, I pack lunch for the next day. Since my girls eat at school, and my husband eats at home, I just have to pack my son’s lunch and my own from whatever I have prepped.
This system works well for me. My biggest advice to busy moms or working ladies who want to prep? Fit it in to your schedule rather than try to make it a standalone thing you have to do. And online grocery shopping is where it’s at! Happy meal prepping!