Your Family’s Ultimate Weekly Meal Prep Plan
The last thing you want to think about on a busy day is what your family will have for dinner.
Planning out a healthy meal prep schedule in advance can save you hours of time and stress. Need tips on how to meal prep? Follow these steps to create your family’s ultimate weekly meal prep plan and get a stress-free, healthy dinner on the table every night!
- Start by writing down all the meals your family enjoys – Gather the family and write down 12-15 meals everyone likes that take no more than 45 minutes to prep and cook. If you’re cooking an average of three meals a week, that means you’ll have no repeat dinners for at least a month! Try to make sure each meal you choose is balanced. For example, if your family loves pasta and meatballs, think about adding fresh veggies to the sauce or plan to toss a fresh garden salad to serve on the side.
- Mark the meals that can be easily doubled (or tripled) – The goal with meal prep is to reduce the number of times you’re cooking during the week. If you’re making large-batch recipes that can be easily doubled, that means you’ll only have to cook 3-4 nights a week.
- Plan your weekly meal schedule – Buy a mini whiteboard to stick on your fridge and write out your family’s dinner menu for each night of the week. Put asterisks next to the days that you’ll be cooking a meal so that you can work it into your schedule ahead of time. Not only is this little board handy, it’ll fend off the annoying question of “What’s for dinner?”
- Stock up on food storage containers – Invest in some quality air-tight, BPA-free plastic or glass storage containers of various sizes. You’ll use them to store your prepped ingredients ahead of time as well as to freeze any leftovers.
- Choose your grocery shopping day – Choose one day of the week to do your big grocery haul, and put a repeating reminder on your calendar for every week. The best day to do your shopping is 1-2 days before your meal prep day so that all your food is at peak freshness.
- Choose your meal prep day – Select the day you’ll do your weekly meal prep. This is the day you’ll spend 2-3 hours getting all recipe ingredients for the week prepped, portioned and ready to go, so that you have minimal work to do on the nights you’re cooking. Get the kids involved by having them help chop veggies (if they’re old enough), stir the pot or help put the prepped food in containers.
Things you can do on meal prep day:
- Chop veggies: Chopping “hearty” vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and potatoes for the week’s recipes can be done in advance. These foods stay firm for 3-5 days in airtight containers in the fridge.
- Cook starches or grains in advance: If you’re planning on serving grains as a side dish for your meals, cook them now in a big batch. Crockpots and instant pots are especially great for cooking healthy grains like pasta, quinoa, brown rice and barley in large quantities – all of which keep well in the fridge for up to five days. Add spices, onion and garlic, hot sauce or even a little butter or olive oil to add flavor without many calories.
- Portion/marinate/cook protein: Which meats can be put into the oven or crockpot right now for the next couple meals? Which ones may need time to marinate? Do any meats need to be trimmed, sliced or tenderized before cooking? Doing all the legwork now makes cooking dinner a breeze a few days from now!
For your family’s best nutrition tips and advice in San Diego, check out all of Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ helpful articles!