Why The Busiest Women Prep Their Meals In Advance
Dr. Ashley Margeson
As a busy woman myself, food is sometimes the last thing on my mind. There are clearly more important things to think about then what we’re having for dinner! Over the past few years though, especially with two little ones at play, thinking about what we were having for dinner became more important – as did meal prepping.
Now, before you jump in and say “Dr. Ashley, I don’t want to eat the same thing every day” – I hear you. And good meal prepping isn’t about making all your food for the week on a Sunday afternoon. Gross! I can’t eat the same thing every day either. Good meal prepping starts with prep – not cooking.
This is how it works in my house.
I’m a big fan of buying what’s on sale – so we generally fluctuate our grocery shopping based off what’s on the 50% off cart, what will last between the most amount of meals, and what the kids will eat along with the adults. In short, we buy food that everyone will like; but sometimes cauliflower that costs 6.00 a head isn’t feasible when you’re trying to feed four people without your grocery bill costing more than a mortgage.
So where do we put our money?
Veggies and protein.
Veggies and proteins are the base of every meal, and they’re relatively easily adaptable to most budgets. Whether it is frozen, canned or fresh, veggies and proteins should make up the majority of your plate. We’re talking buying cauliflower, broccoli and brussel sprouts; kale, swiss chard, cabbage, onions, garlic, ginger, green onions and bok choy as the base of meals. Then we add in tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, lettuce as it makes sense.
Same with proteins. We buy tenderloins, cheese, chicken thighs and ground pork when it’s on sale, and part of our food budget each month goes into a savings account to pay for the beef we get from a farmer each year. It took us 2 years to get to the point of pulling money out every month to do this – but now that we have it makes everything so much easier. We just need to remember to defrost it.
When it comes to carbohydrates, the choices are rice and potatoes. Bulk buys that last longer, and that help get the simple carbohydrates to our kids that they need to grow.
Fruits can be very expensive, and just don’t make a ton of sense in our budget most of the time. So we buy oranges and pomegranates at christmas time, apples and pears in the fall and berries through the summer. But frozen fruits are our saving grace when you want something sweet – but it shouldn’t be the bulk of your buying power at the store.
So now that you’ve grocery shopped and filled your cart with foods that are adaptable, we need to prep it.
Spend 2 (ish) hours a week cutting your veggies. Veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, etc can be cut up and placed in an airtight container with olive oil, salt and pepper and put in the fridge. Then, you can turn your oven on, put your veggies on a cooking sheet and cook them up fresh. This is the same with most proteins. Chicken thighs can be marinaded (we love a combo of salt, pepper, olive oil and onions) and placed in an air tight container in the fridge. This act allows more flavour to get into food, but it also saves time in the evenings during the school week.
Carbohydrates like rice can cook on the stove easily day of, especially when it’s the only thing you’re doing from scratch
Left over proteins and rice and veggies go into the kids lunch bags, along with some snacks – and with the adults to the workplace.
Yes, I’m talking the days when you don’t have something prepped and you’re crunched for time. My favourite options are ensuring that there are frozen simple foods in your freezer. Frozen pizzas, chicken pot pies, casseroles, lasagna and Shepard’s pies are things that are simple to pull out in the morning to defrost and then put in your oven when you get home. Our tip for frozen pizza’s? Load them up with more veggies and proteins.
And if you’re seriously crunched for time and haven’t pulled anything out? Grocery store rotisserie chicken and a bag of salad. Done.
The goal of meal prepping is to save you time, not cause you more headaches. Remember that.
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