It’s here. School is back in session. That means sports have started and life is busier than ever with extracurricular activities. It also means eating together may not happen as often or meal prepping may go by the wayside.
Taking the time to sit down as a family and eat a meal together seems like a big task some days. In the end, it makes a huge difference when it comes to engaging with your kids. The conversations you have with them over meals make more of a difference than you think. Ask your family members what the best part of their day was, or ask everyone to contribute some fun questions, write them down on a piece of paper and put them into a basket. Then, you can spark a conversation the next time you eat together.
Taking time to prepare for meal times can make things much easier. Doing this also seems like a mundane task, but the additional time that it shaves off when you are trying to eat early, or your kids are telling you they want ANOTHER snack, makes it all worth it!
Meal Prep Basics
Meal prepping can feel overwhelming. Let’s start with the basics:
- Create a plan. This includes what your meals, snacks, and other events look like for the week. Do you have a busy or slow week? What do you have in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator already? Can you use one item to make multiple meals? For example, you can use a rotisserie chicken for chicken tacos one night, but use the leftover chicken for wraps or sandwiches the next. Think about repurposing!
- Make a grocery list. This is huge. We all know if we go into the grocery store without some sort of a list in our head, you either aren’t going to buy what you need to buy, or you are going to spend much more money than you budgeted for. There are a variety of methods to keeping lists; pen and paper is great, or you can use an app. We have an Amazon Show in our kitchen to help keep our lists ongoing. When we run out of something, we add it to the list and use the app on our phone as well.
- Take time to prep. This looks different for everyone depending on how much time you have. It may take an hour, or it may take two. Maybe it doesn’t even take that long for you! Wash and cut vegetables, prep protein, and get your week in order. Typically this is something that may be easier to do on the weekend after grocery shopping, but it also may be easier to do on a weeknight.
- Pack the night before. If dinner leftovers are your lunch for the next day, simply prep your lunch when you are cleaning up after dinner. Regardless, if I am working outside of my home, I always prep my food the night before since I usually eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks at my office. I’ve tried to do it the morning of, and trust me – it doesn’t go well, and I always regret it.
Having a plan, but being flexible is key.
As parents, we know schedules can change quickly which means we need another game plan. Knowing you have taken the time to make sure meals and snacks are relatively ready to go is just another thing you can check off of your list.
Just like you take time to do other things for yourself, taking time to create a plan, make a grocery list, prep your food, and pack the night before is worth it. It’s part of creating a routine that will continue to help you and your family thrive.
If you are looking for some extra recipes to add to your weeknight meal routines, check out my previous post about Easy Meal Ideas.