It’s officially back-to-school time! Are you ecstatic? Wishing for more summertime? Both? Regardless of which way you feel, you are probably trying to slip back into the routine of weekday meals and packing lunches. Meal prepping for kids and adults can help you navigate this change of schedules and routines.
After a lovely summer of relaxed schedules, bountiful summer fruit and produce, and lots of summer fun, it can feel overwhelming to contemplate a return to school. Starting with breakfast, prepping and packing lunches, gathering snacks, and getting dinner on the table can be a lot to face.
And when it’s time to feed your baby, bökee can help you bottle prep with ease so that you can move on to getting meals ready for you and the rest of the family. Choose your favorite bökee color today.
Meal Prepping for Kids Will Save Your Sanity
Action-packed family life can make it feel nearly impossible to get nutritious food into your kids some days. One busy mom mentioned that she’s certain her youngest child’s first solid food was fish crackers the older siblings had dropped between the couch cushions. I think all parents of multiple kids can relate to that!
Preparing food ahead of time can be an enormous time and sanity saver. Here is our real mom’s guide to meal prepping for kids…and yourself! And remember that you don’t need to do all your planning, shopping, and preparing in one day. Spread it out over a few days to keep it manageable.
1. Make Your Plan
Start by setting aside some time to consider your food options for the week. If you’re new to meal prepping, consider starting with just one meal. For example, plan all the week’s dinners, so you have one meal settled each day.
Look at your calendar to determine if there are any particularly busy days when you’ll need to have an effortless dinner that night. Or perhaps you have a date night planned and need something quick for the sitter to make for your children.
And if you are breastfeeding, keep that in mind while you plan. Do you need to pump extra milk for a day or evening that you won’t be home with your child? Meal prepping includes breast milk for nursing moms! And don’t forget that your bökee can help you transfer breast milk securely so that you don’t spill one precious drop.
As you meal plan, consider theme nights to reduce decision fatigue and boost the fun. For example, if you know Mondays are meatless, and Tuesdays are for tacos, that makes all your planning and prep that much easier.
Are Fridays for take-out pizza and a family movie? Great! Put it in the plan. Repeating themes or meals makes this process much simpler. There’s no need to create a whole new menu every week.
When you feel up to it, start adding breakfasts and lunches into your weekly plan. This piece is extremely helpful if your kids are school-aged and need to take lunch each day. You won’t be standing in your kitchen trying to figure out what to throw together because it will already be decided for you.
Your plan can be simple. You don’t have to get fancy and try a bunch of new recipes all the time unless that is something you enjoy doing.
Focus on the nutritious foods your family loves, even if you eat similar things more than once during the week. Planning meals that you all love and are easy to prepare leaves time and energy for connecting and enjoying each other.
2. Turn Your Plan Into a Grocery List
Once you’ve laid out your menu, use it to build your shopping list. Check the status of all your staples, too. Nothing is more frustrating than starting to cook dinner, only to discover you’re out of something basic like olive oil.
Include your kiddos in the list-building process by asking them to name a few snacks, fruits, or vegetables they’d like to have. Children enjoy and deserve some say in how they fuel themselves. Involving your children in these plans also gives you the chance to talk about nutritious foods that help us feel our best.
3. Prep and Batch Cook
One of the best parts of meal prepping for kids and yourself is that you don’t necessarily have to “cook” every night. Here are a couple of ways busy parents can streamline and limit their time in the kitchen:
- Double a recipe and freeze one portion. If spaghetti is on the menu, make a double or triple batch of sauce and freeze what you don’t use that night. The next time it’s pasta night, you simply need to boil the noodles and thaw the sauce.
- Batch cook for mix-and-match meals. Batch cooking once a week can be an excellent way to simplify breakfast, lunch, and dinner for everyone. Cook a large amount of different proteins, grains, and vegetables and then store them in the refrigerator. Chop up some veggies to leave fresh for snacking or to throw into other recipes. For a quick meal, put all the options out and let everyone load up their plates or bowls with the items they like. Add a few different sauce options, and you have an easy, customizable breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
- For school lunches, did you know you can make and freeze sandwiches? They freeze well and thaw by lunchtime! PB&J does great in the freezer, as do meat and cheese sandwiches. Just leave off veggies and condiments when you freeze them. If your family enjoys those items, they can add them before eating.
- Freeze portions of fruit for quick smoothie making for breakfasts or snacks. You can assemble the fruit combinations that each person likes and freeze them in resealable bags labeled with the person’s name. This preparation step can be an excellent way for your children to help.
- Don’t forget about your baby’s food! If you’re breastfeeding, consider pumping extra milk to store in the freezer for days that you are on the go or your schedule changes. If you happen to be a teacher or a student yourself, building up this supply may be the most important part of your “meal prepping!”
Make sure your form of meal prepping works for you. Often when you see recommendations for doing prep on the weekend, it can seem like you’re supposed to spend your whole Sunday in the kitchen. But this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal.
Instead, find a middle ground that works for you. Perhaps you can set a timer for one hour and prep as much as you can in that time. Or prepare enough for a few days and plan another short prep day later in your week. Or just make the spaghetti sauce you’ll need later in the week. Meal preparation is supposed to make your life easier, not more hectic. Do what works for your family’s needs and schedules.
4. Prep the Night Before
Each evening, look at the next day’s meal plan and calendar to prepare as much as possible.
- Set bowls and cups on the table to speed up breakfast in the morning.
- If the next day’s dinner requires something in your freezer, get it out to thaw.
- Take frozen breast milk out of the freezer to thaw if needed. Make sure your bökee is where you can reach it easily!
- Set lunch bags on the counter and add napkins, utensils, and any foods that can sit out overnight.
5. Keep Your Kids Involved
Children who take part in planning, shopping, and cooking are often more likely to eat a wider variety of nutrient-dense foods. Admittedly, having children help you in the kitchen can make things take longer, but the payoff is worth it.
Depending on their ages, here are several ways kids can join you for meal prepping:
- Choose one meal to go on the week’s menu.
- Help write the grocery list.
- Wash the produce.
- Set timers for cooking.
- Chop vegetables for recipes. This site has all kinds of child-sized kitchen tools that can give your child a safe way to be successful as a chef.
- Put prepped ingredients into containers to go in the refrigerator.
A Fed Family Is a Happy Family
By mastering meal prepping for kids and adults, you can help avoid the hangry meltdowns that happen when nothing is planned. You also protect your budget when you don’t have to fall back on take-out more often than you intend.
The bökee started as a way to help streamline your bottle feeding time. From babies to adults, we all need proper fuel, and each family navigates that the best they can. Meal prepping is one way to make it easier to get everyone fed without too much drama.
Having a bökee or two around the house is another way. The bökee allows you to bottle prep and open jars one-handed to make life even simpler. Grab yours today.