How to Meal Prep Like a Mother

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This is a beginner’s guide to meal prepping efficiently.

 

In fact, the strategies in the guide helped me reduce my food spending my hundreds of dollars and made getting breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the table every day less stressful. 

 

So if you want more money in your pocket and a meal plan you can count on, you’ll love this meal prep guide.

 

Let’s get started.

 

WHY I CREATED THIS MEAL PREP GUIDE

I’ve been that mom in traffic, exhausted from a long day of work, wondering what’s for dinner? A quick mental inventory of the contents of my refrigerator and pantry is all it would take for every glaring red stoplight to become a reminder that the grocery store, not home, needed to be my next stop.

 

So, at the worst time of day, I’d rush into a grocery store with a vague memory of what pieces of a meal I had at home and I’d buy more pieces in hopes that I was buying something that created a full meal that didn’t leave my family disappointed. 

 

Once at home, I’d spend my first moments bringing bags in the house and the next hour or so cooking but wanting to cry. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking and have experienced baking to be a therapy of sorts. But the way I was going about managing my time was stressful and inefficient and it made everything I did less enjoyable – even cooking for my family.

 

Something needed to change STAT. First, I got a handle on my time management. Then, I learned how to meal prep like a mother. 

 

WHAT IS MEAL PREP?

Meal prep is the process of preparing food ahead of time so that at mealtime food can be ready or easily assembled to create full meals. 

 

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEAL PREP & MEAL PLANNING?

I’ve seen the terms used interchangeably; however, I view meal planning as the process of deciding which meals we’ll have for the week while meal prep is the actual prepping of ingredients for the meal. Both meal prep and meal planning are required steps in this guide.

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEAL PREPPING?

Whether you’re a mom or a human with responsibilities, you’ll quickly realize that meal prepping can help you prepare more nourishing meals, free up more time, and save money. 

 

Better nourishment

We’re told we need a plan for every area of our life but when it comes to food, our energy source, we wing it. This lack of planning often leads to decision-making based on convenience and not optimal sustenance. Eating well doesn’t happen by accident. We need a plan for this area of our lives. 

 

Time

When we don’t know what the next meal is going to be, we tend to spend valuable time and mental energy trying to figure it out. How many times hours in the past week have you spent deciding what to eat? Think about it. Meal prep can reduce that time by 95% or more!

 

Money

When you’re not making multiple unplanned trips to the grocery store and making purchasing decisions while hungry, you are positioned to make better choices that impact your budget positively. To ensure you’re getting this benefit, I recommend tracking using a spreadsheet or a printable like the one below.

Monthly Food Budget Template in The Mommy Chef Printable Bundle

 

HOW TO BEGIN MEAL PREPPING

I will not pretend that efficient meal prepping happens overnight. It’s a process that takes lots of practice. But here is a process that has worked for me.

 

Overview:

Meal Prep Like A Mother Pyramid

    1. Meal plan {Decide what meals you want to prepare for the week}, include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
    2. Shop your pantry/cabinets.
    3. Go grocery shopping if necessary.
    4. Ensure you have the appropriate storage/meal prep containers.
    5. Chop and prepare your produce and grains.
    6. Bake, cool, and store (freezer/refrigerator) food appropriately.
    7. Enjoy your week of easy meals you can put together and serve quickly.

 

 

1. Meal Plan

Use an app, a sheet of paper, or a printable template to outline what meals you want to prepare for the week. 

Weekly Meal Plan in The Mommy Chef Printable Bundle

 

Tips:

  • If you have children and even if you don’t – please don’t forget snacks, snacks, and did I mention snacks. 
  • Don’t feel the need to have a different meal for every block. Oatmeal three times (or more) for breakfast is okay. You can prepare oatmeal as overnight oats or like warm porridge. You can also make small changes like adding different topping. Monday could be berries and hemp seeds; Wednesday could be almond butter and pumpkin seeds. Get creative.

 

 

2. Shop your pantry/cabinets:

Once you have your meals laid out, you may be tempted to shop right away. Stop. Take a look at what you already have. 

 

  • Do you have leftover veggies that need to be eaten up? How about that bowl in the back with the lid- what’s in there? Check it out. 
  • Open your freezer. What’s in there? 

 

By checking your kitchen, you might find that you already have the items you need for a full meal. Don’t be afraid to adjust your meal plan accordingly.

 

This is also the perfect time to clean out your refrigerator. 😉

 

 

3. Go shopping

Grocery List Template in The Mommy Chef Printable Bundle

 

It’s time to go shopping and I highly recommend using a list. Again, all you need is a free app like Cozi,  a plain sheet of paper, or if you enjoy printables like me, you can use the ones I’ve created.

 

Ensure you have listed everything you need to create the meals on your meal planning template.

 

Tip:

  • If possible, try to shop during off-peak hours. There’s nothing worse than playing bumper carts in the grocery store. 

 

 

4. Prepare your storage containers

If you are meal planning consistently, you’ll want to have reliable containers that are easy to stack, easy to clean, and easy to carry.

 

My preference is glass meal prep containers(affiliate link) because they check all the boxes and reheating and storing warm foods in plastics can lead to exposure to nasty toxins.

 

 

Pull out your containers shortly after grocery shopping as a reminder to begin meal prepping as soon as possible. Why? Because procrastination is real my friend. 

 

 

5. Chop vegetables, prepare grains, and prep the food for the week

The meals have been determined and the shopping is complete. Now, it’s time to prep the food. This can look very different each week, but here’s an example:

If you have rice stir-fry on your meal plan and you purchased onions, bell peppers, frozen snow peas, and frozen carrots. Then, it’s time to chop the onions and peppers and store them in the same container. In another container, you can combine the peas and carrots. If you’re having rice in more than one meal, prepare a large batch of rice. On stir fry day, all you have to do is combine and add sauce – voila!

 

Tips:

  • Avoid preparing grains more than four days from the time you plan to eat them. In my experience, they tend to go to mush after that time.
  • Store diced and sliced bell peppers and other vegetables with a cut of onion. It keeps longer.
  • If you are preparing potatoes ahead of time, plan to eat them within the first few days of cooking. 
  • Don’t be reluctant to use frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • If you’re in a pinch with grains, consider frozen rice or quinoa. Whole Foods has a bag of frozen brown rice that cooks up in ~5 minutes!
  • Place carrots and celery in a jar of water (got this tip from Pick Up Limes- see video below.)

 

 

6. Bake, cool, and store:

If you are baking or roasting things like muffins, potatoes, and vegetables, allow them to cool completely before placing in the refrigerator or freezer.

 

Also, don’t feel the need to create the same meal and store it to be eaten every day of the week (see the photo below).

 

This method of meal prep is useful but can lead to boredom quickly; eating the same thing every day isn’t fun.

 

So. Consider making staples like rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, quinoa, lentils, vegetables, various proteins,  and ensure leafy greens are washed and ready. Then store so that mixing and matching throughout the week is easy.

 

 

7. Post your meal plan on the refrigerator and enjoy your week

Having a meal plan and food prepped and ready for the week has been one of the best things I’ve done to improve daily family life and I recommend that everyone figure out a meal prep system that works for their family.

 

It saves money. It saves time. And, next time someone wants to know what’s for dinner? – it’s posted in the kitchen! 

 


 

This is how I meal plan and meal prep my food for the week to avoid the constant head clutter of trying to figure it out daily. And when things don’t go to plan, we eat out occasionally because I believe in giving myself grace.

 

  • 6 days of homemade meals and 1 restaurant outing (via meal planning) is better than 5 days of restaurants and fast food and two days of thrown together meals (via no plan at all).

 

Being a mom means we have lots to manage. I know this.

But…

 

Planning ahead of time can make it all less overwhelming.

 

 

TAKEAWAY

Learning to meal prep is a process and if it doesn’t work the first time, TRY AGAIN.

 

Full disclosure: My first attempts were horrible. I burned the rice, my potatoes went bad before meal day, and the peppers had an unrecognizable slime by Thursday. I failed. 

 

However, with practice, I got better and you can too.

Now, I look forward to mealtime with my family – I want the same for you!

 

 

DGM Resources:

BUY NOW

The Mommy Chef Printable Bundle is a collection of three printables to help you with your meal prep goals:

    • The Monthly Food Budget Template
    • The Weekly Meal Plan Template
    • The Grocery List Template
    • Visit The Shop: PURCHASE FOR $12

 

Purchase once and print as needed.

 

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Tiffany Green

Hi, I'm Tiffany! I'm a former newborn screening chemist, a trained doula, and a mom with a masters degree in family life and youth development. I write about pregnancy, motherhood, and wellness with the goal of helping pregnant women and new moms crush overwhelm so that managing family life is an adventure - instead of a hassle.

About Damn Good Mom

Damn Good Mom was created to provide pregnant women and new moms with content and digital resources so that being unapologetically informed, empowered, and intentional becomes a new normal.♥︎

 

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