With such a busy schedule at work and home, Tony and I have found meal planning and meal prep to be the best way to keep us organized. It also helps us stick to a budget, which has gotten a lot more important after adding a baby to our family. Getting everything set up ahead of time has also cut back on the time it takes up during the week, so we have more time to spend with Wyatt (which is a huge plus). While it may not always turn out perfectly it helps to already have a plan in place to keep us on track. With that in mind we wanted to share some of the things we have learned and implemented through this process that have helped us.
Here are some great hacks to simplify your weekly meal planning and prep process.
Have a Menu Plan:
I know we’ve said it before, but having a weekly menu plan can be so helpful. It has saved us so many times when we come home after a long day. If we hadn’t already had a plan for dinner it probably would have turned into buying something quick that wasn’t good for us and wasn’t in our budget. Because we plan 3-5 meals a week for dinners, when we get home we either have left overs or a plan for what to make.
Use Similar Ingredients:
Using similar ingredients in your meals helps with a number of things including sticking to your budget, cutting back on your waste, and utilizing ingredients in a different way than your norm. Sticking to a budget can be difficult when each recipe calls for a bit of an ingredient that isn’t used in any of your other meals. All those start to add up and then by the end of the week you have all kinds of left over ingredients, some of which won’t be good by next week. Using similar ingredients for multiple meals can cut back on this, because if it isn’t used up in one recipe there is still another one to utilize it in. This is something we have focused on with our clients so that they use everything that they buy. Utilizing these ingredients throughout our menus also gets us to cook them with different techniques such as grilling, sautéing and roasting. With this versatility similarity becomes different so it’s never boring.
Shopping for your meals ahead of time can save time and money. We try to shop once a week, so that when it comes time to cook we have everything we need and we aren’t having to rush to the store, possibly forgetting things along the way. Having to make multiple trips to the store creates multiple times you could forget items and or buy things you don’t really need on impulse. It also takes up a lot of time especially if you have little ones that go with you each time. I never appreciated how quickly Tony and I used to get out of the house until after Wyatt. Since then finding ways to save time has been great so that we have more time to spend doing the things we enjoy.
Prep Ahead (When Possible):
This can be a huge time saver if you have a chance to prep ahead. When we do this we try to get it done on the same day we shop so that as we are unpacking we prep for each meal. This could mean grouping ingredients together in the fridge for the meal they go with, or it could mean chopping up the vegetables needed. Whether it’s major or minor prep, time is saved in getting set up and organized.
One of the biggest things I learned in culinary school was “mise en place” which means “everything in its place”. This is also something that I have trained others on throughout my career. It’s the entire organization system of having everything needed for a task at hand or in its place before starting. So before we start cooking we make sure our kitchen is clean and set up with any equipment, tools and ingredients we will need for our recipes. This helps keep us organized and it also shortens the time it takes us to get finished.
We hope that even just one of these tips helps get you more organized in your weekly prep and helps save you time, money and energy so you can spend more time on the things you want. We are also excited to tell you about our soon to come meal plan subscription page so look out for more information on it coming soon!