Healthy eating should be a top priority for your family. You want your children to grow up knowing how to eat well. However, when you’re running a busy household and working full-time, it can be hard to find the time to good a healthy meal.
That’s where meal planning comes in. Weekly meal plans can take some of the stress out of daily meal prep. Luckily, there are tons of recipes out there for freezer meals and crockpot meals that will save you some time in the kitchen as well.
Making a Plan Ahead of Time
Menu planning can take some of the stress out of cooking each week, and it can make grocery shopping easier as well. When you know exactly what’s going into your weekly meal plans, you can save money at the grocery store and make sure the foods you buy get used (less wasted food is less wasted money).
There are meal planner books, menu planner apps, and other ways you can find help making a meal plan for your family. These outlets offer you recipes, meal ideas, and the ability to make the right sized meals for your family.
Meal Planning Apps even give you the grocery list, so you know what to get without reading through a week’s worth of recipes. Here are some meal planner apps to consider looking into.
Forks Meal Planner – If you want a whole food, plant-based diet for your family, Forks is the app for you. This isn’t a free app, but you can test it out for free. The cost is affordable, especially when it comes to getting healthy meal ideas that include your grocery list.
You also get a personalized 5-day meal plan every week, lots of recipes, meals plans for people with food allergies/intolerances (nuts, gluten, and soy), and a 30-day money back guarantee. They also let you opt for family and individual plans.
LaLa Lunchbox – If your meal planning struggles revolve around packing lunch for your kids, LaLa Lunchbox has what you need. It counts out the servings of all the healthy items your child needs in their meals. They also have products you can purchase to help make lunch creations easier.
Big Oven App – This is a great app if you prefer in-season fruits and vegetables in your meals. Big Oven has another neat aspect as well – it has a “leftovers” option that can help you create a meal out of the items you have left in your fridge.
Prepping and Cooking Ahead of Time
Even with a meal plan on hand, you may still want to do some prepping and precooking to make life easier. Here are some ways to save time on daily meal making.
1. Use the Crockpot
Crockpots are a great kitchen gadget for busy families. You can toss your ingredients in when you get up in the morning and let it cook throughout the day. You then come home to a fully cooked meal. There are endless amounts of crockpot and slow-cooker recipes available online.
Anything can be cooked in a crockpot, depending on how long you want to wait for it to be ready. You can cook a whole turkey in one if it’s big enough. People make dessert in their crockpots, lasagna, and even mac and cheese.
2. Prep or Cook and Freeze
One handy thing to do – if you have the freezer space for it – is make meals and freeze them. You can store them in individual or family-sized containers. Then you can just pull them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge the night before or the morning of the day you plan to eat them. When it’s time to eat, toss them in the oven or microwave.
You don’t always have to precook the meals you freeze. You can toss together the veggies you need for a soup, and then put diced up meat in a separate container. When it’s time to cook them you just empty the two bags into the crockpot with some broth and wait.
3. Prep Ahead
If your freezer’s too full or you don’t want to cook too many meals ahead of time, you can still do some night before prepping. Having your veggies all cleaned and chopped up ahead of time can cut a lot of time off meal prep.
It’s also helpful to keep veggies clean and diced, and meats diced and ready, then repackaged. You’ll find your food items last longer, and you spend less time chopping and more time cooking when it comes to making something to eat.
Healthy Eating Is Important
Practicing these meal prep and planning tactics can help you make healthier meals in a shorter amount of time. You won’t feel the need to order pizza or run out for fast food when you have a healthy meal in the freezer then needs ten minutes in the microwave to be ready to eat.
Feature image via quorn.us