Meal Prep for Healthier Dinners
With three kids, getting a healthy dinner made seems to be impossible at times. Over the years I have learned that planning ahead is key to having healthier meals that can be prepared in a timely fashion in-between work, pick-ups and drop-offs, homework help, cleaning and all of the other tasks we have to accomplish each day. Planning ahead saves time, makes it so that there is no relying on processed foods and prevents a last minute run for take-out.
To help you, we’ve got some time saving tips for getting healthy dinner meals on the table:
Write out your meal plan for the week
Make at least two of your dinnertime meals a big one where you can use the leftovers for another night’s dinner. Lasagnas, homemade mac and cheese, chili, salads, and soups are all great ones for this.
Take a few hours on a day during the week that you have a lighter schedule to get some prep work out of the way
To do this, take a look at the dinners that you have planned to see just what can be taken care of and stored ahead of time. This includes:
- Chopping vegetables. These can be stored in the fridge for use on the day they will used.
- Seasoning and marinating meats. You can marinate meats a few days ahead of cooking them. Doing this ahead of time means that all you have to do on the night it is to be cooked is to place it in the oven to bake.
- Roasting two big trays of vegetables for side dishes. It helps to choose two vegetables that roast at the same temperature. This can be broccoli and cauliflower paired together, butternut squash and sweet potatoes, or carrots and brussels sprouts, as examples.
- Use a few minutes of your morning to do quick and easy prep for that evening.
- Soak any grains. I am a soaker. Soaking grains is the key to the body actually being able to use the nutrients of the grain. In particular, I use quinoa and brown rice often, so the morning of the day before or on the day that I will be using one of these for dinner, I soak it in a bowl with water and some lemon juice. That way by the time I need it, the phytic acid will be significantly broken down, making the nutrients bioavailable for your cells.
- If pasta is on your list for a night, fill the pot with water and set covered on the stove that morning. Coming home to just have to turn the knob and pour the pasta seems to make things less complicated than having to take out the pot and get it ready all at once.