Weekly meal planning and food prep is all the rage these days – and for good reason! Setting aside time at the beginning of the week to plan ahead will not only save you hundreds of dollars in wasted food but it will cut down on calories and boost the nutrition in your diet. Win, win, right?
So why does it sometimes not happen? Well, if you’re anything like me, life gets in the way. Perhaps you forgot to wash all of your dark leafy greens from the farmers market and that lacinato kale got lost in the produce drawer. Maybe you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer and ran out of time for it to thaw before dinner. Believe me, you name it, I’ve been there and done that.
To help you make meal planning enjoyable again, I’m going to share my five best practices to help you save time, reduce stress and stay healthy all week long:
Make Recipes Your Own: Following a recipe can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of worrying about whether you have every single ingredient or the absolute correct cut of meat, give yourself the freedom and flexibility to substitute and swap out with whatever you have on hand or is in season.
Take Advantage of Healthy Short-Cuts: Instead of creating three new recipes with every meal, I usually make one main dish and add in a store-bought short cut. Dole’s new Organic Salad Kits are not only delicious but come with everything you need (from greens to dressing!) to create the perfect salad.
Cook Once, Eat Twice: Every week I like to make one big batch of meat in the slow cooker to use in salads, soups, enchiladas, pastas, tacos and more. Whether it’s shredded chicken or pulled pork, make extra and save yourself time all week long.
Enlist Helpers in the Kitchen: I can’t stress the importance of getting kids in the kitchen enough. While they aren’t always the tidiest in the kitchen and don’t always follow directions perfectly, they can’t get better unless you continually include them in meal prep. My little ones love helping me make the Organic Apple Dijon Kit from Dole which includes crunchy walnuts, dried cranberries and shredded cheddar cheese. They probably eat more than what ends up in the salad but that’s another story.
Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry: We love cooking Asian food at home so I always keep a well-stocked Asian pantry filled with soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha and more. Love Mexican food? Make sure you have canned beans, chipotle peppers, cumin and hominy on hand. By taking the time to keep your pantry stocked, you’re never more than 15 minutes from a healthy and delicious homemade dinner.
Your turn! What are your best practices for making meal prep a breeze? I’d love to hear from you!!
Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Dole Fresh Vegetables. All thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Lemon Bowl possible. Photography by Alejandro Photography.
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