Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Sunday meal prep

Remember this, when I showed you our pantry? I'm back with a peek inside our refrigerator. Stop me when I start sharing our closets please!

It's a long one today, but conversations with mom friends these days often gravitate to the dread of getting dinner on the table, so I hope you find some value in these details.

Although I enjoy cooking and baking, I'm very limited with my time in the kitchen at this stage of our lives. Extracurriculars, homework, and a little one at my feet can make dinner seem impossible. But eating well helps me feel my best and my hope is it also encourages my children to eat a balanced diet.

I'm going to share a secret that's been working for me for years, Sunday meal prep. It's not a novel idea, but it has changed the way I shop, prepare, and stress about mealtime.

It all begins with grocery shopping. I keep shopping and meal prep separate because I currently don't have a four hour window in my weekends, but more power to you if you do. Most weeks, I hit the grocery store on Fridays, but I've also been known to send my husband a second time on Sunday mornings for last minute school lunch fixings. 

I couldn't do once-per-week shopping without Thrive Market. I have tried all the grocery delivery services, but this is the one that has stuck. My youngest is usually trying to throw himself from the cart, so anything that eliminates time in an actual store is invaluable. Thrive Market is an online health foods store, selling at a discount with an annual membership fee. We purchase all our pantry and snack items here, including: apple sauce, baby food, dried fruit, jarred tomatoes, almond and cashew butters, granola bars, the best gluten-free pasta, beans, muesli or oats, our favorite crackers, nuts and seeds, salsa, and tortilla chips

All our meat, eggs and speciality items are purchased from our local co-op. I'm a total freak about where our meat, fish, and eggs are sourced (only local and organic). I'd probably be vegetarian if I didn't think my husband would starve! I make this trip mid-week once every two weeks to stock our freezer.

My Friday weekly grocery run (Trader Joe's) includes bananas, apples or pears, oranges, lemons and limes, mangoes, seedless cucumbers, kale, cauliflower, avocados, herbs, carrots, sweet potatoes, organic hummus, almond milk and whole milk, yogurt smoothies, greek yogurt, crackers, mini pizzas (makes an easy school lunch), string cheese, cheese slices, frozen organic brown rice, and organic tahini. This is the list saved in my phone and in order of our local store because I'm efficient, err weird, like that. Each week I also purchase a couple packaged/precut veggies such as butternut squash zig zags, organic slaw, broccoli, or green beans. 

Are you still here? It seems like a lot, but I've eliminated all those extra grocery store runs, and this works so well for us.

Sunday mornings, I dedicate a couple hours to meal prep. I have been doing this long enough that I can hammer it out in two hours and my husband helps with dishes. All the produce is washed/cut, veggies are chopped, I make green juice for my mornings, any sauces are prepared (like lemon tahini that works as a salad dressing or atop roasted vegetables, pesto in the summer months, Asian dressing, always guacamole with a thin layer of salsa or water so it doesn't brown). I also make a half dozen boiled eggs, a large pan of roasted root veggies, shredded chicken in the Instant Pot to add to meals throughout the week, and the kid's sandwiches for the first part of the week's school lunches.

Sunday meal prep is one major session with one major clean up, but then the rest of the week, I'm spending maybe fifteen minutes in all to prepare dinner.

I can confidently tell you this tupperware has the best lids and is the most durable. Jelly jars work well for sauces. I swear by these containers because berries and herbs last over a week. We use these lunch containers because they stack well and don't leak (the center piece is removable). I also love the convenience of these plates because we put the kids' breakfasts together the night before since we have a couple of early risers.

A freshly cleaned kitchen, a stocked refrigerator, and a plan for the week makes me happy. What is your grocery and meal prep routine? Are you able to wing it each night or do you prepare meals ahead of time?

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