How To Meal Prep For Back To School + Recipe Ideas
Keep the school year sane with these meal prep tips! With September almost here moms everywhere are scrambling to get their sh*t together and start a new routine (here’s how to make mornings less stressful). And the worst part of the routine: back to school food!
From fast breakfasts to school lunches, after school snacks and finally dinner, us moms need to be on our A-game when it comes to food (though I personally think living off energy balls is cool :P). And since I am an organizational freak, I wanted to share with you some simple meal prep ideas, tips, and recipes to help keep the process a little more sane,
Let’s be honest, getting your kids to eat healthy on a normal day can be a challenge. (though here’s a few tips to get them to eat healthily!) Couple that with work, school, activities and packing for it all and it definitely sounds easier to stop at a donut shop on the way to school 😛
Unfortunately, kids (and us mamas!) need quality, real food in order to stay fueled, focused, and full of lasting energy.
Why You Should Learn How To Meal Prep
While it may suck to hear (#sorrynotsorry ) it takes a little bit of work is to make your household run a bit more smoothly. When life gets busy, meal prepping can help:
- Save time
- Save sanity
- Keep yourself & your kids healthy
- You to not be scrambling every day for food
In the past few years, I’ve switched from a crazy meal prep junkie to having zero food made at all. Now that I have kiddos I like to always have something on hand.
I’ve come up with a system to keep our house running smoothly. Thankfully, it also doesn’t have me in the kitchen for hours either! So I thought I’d share my best meal prep ideas and recipes with you to help the chaos of back to school seem a bit more practical.
Healthy Meal Prep – Start With Breakfast
I always like to tackle the first meal of the day. So, when it comes to simple tips on meal prep, I figured we’d jump into breakfast first.
Spend an hour one week making up some pancakes, scrambled egg wraps, and muffins. These items freeze well and, in the morning, just pop them into the toaster oven while you’re getting ready and voila!
Add some fruit with them and you’re good to go.
Don’t have that hour? I get it.
How To Meal Prep Hack: The next two times you make pancakes on the weekend, double the batch. Then freeze the leftovers between some parchment paper and you’re set. I love these green smoothie pancakes because they sneak in a veggie 😉
This makes a fast grab and go breakfast for the school week which is still full of healthy fuel. These make-ahead breakfast recipes are a lifesaver for super busy mornings.
Wash & Cut Veggies
As soon as veggies come in my door, they are washed, cut, and placed into an organizational container.
Does this make the grocery shopping trip a bit longer? Yes. There’s an extra ten minutes when you come home (though my toddler currently loves washing veggies, so I save a bit of time by recruiting child labor!).
This makes it so much easier to whip up simple dinner recipes or grab some veggies and hummus for an after-school snack.
Really, wash, and cut. You’ll thank yourself later.
When it comes to meal prep ideas- that one is a staple!
Cook Meat In Bulk
This may seem like a no-brainer, but we totally fall into the trap of cooking only what we need for dinner that night. Which makes even the easiest of dinner recipes annoying.
This is just silly. If you’re cooking two chicken breasts, cook four and you’ll be set for a super speedy dinner the next day. You can check out insanely fast dinner recipes in The Busy Mom’s Cookbook.
Having your protein cooked keeps coming home from activities far simpler! You’ll have dinner on the table in thirty minutes or less.
So, spend Sunday or Wednesday cooking off a bit more than you normally would. I do about 4-5 chicken breasts and sometimes some ground beef.
Keep Rice, Quinoa or Beans Cooked
This is easily my favorite tips when helping people learn how to meal prep- especially for back to school!
But it also took me a bit to latch on to. Always having grains/starch cooked in the fridge is a lifesaver! Mom hack: rice and quinoa actually freeze really well also so I make big batches, freeze and then thaw when needed.
This is one of those things that just makes dinner so much more time-efficient. Then all you have to do is throw everything into a pan, put some sauce on it and you’ve got stir fry in fifteen minutes!
If you need some help for dinner, Fit Foodie Mama has some great resources for planning out your meals for the month. No need to re-invent the wheel, just rotate your favorites! You can also peek my 30-day dinner meal plan to get some great, speedy, meal-prep friendly dinner recipes!
Step Up Your Snack Game
Once a month I spend 60 minutes whipping up a variety of bars, balls, muffins, and some protein items. This makes it so after school and weekend snacks are a freaking breeze. Pair them all with some fruit and you’re good to go. Healthy, fueling, and already made.
Being the crazy mom, I’m always trying to reduce sugar where I can (if you remember, I even rocked a sugar-free, dairy-free smash cake for the first birthdays!). And making snacks is just one more way I help to decrease our sugar consumption. It’ll never be perfect but trying is half the battle.
Here’s a list of our favorite back to school snacks and a few tips on making anything nut-free!
Does it suck sometimes to spend an hour making snacks? Yes. Is it worth it as we’re running out the door trying to make it to something on time? Yes.
The biggest lesson when learning how to meal prep for beginners? Just do it.
Keep Your Life Simple
Sometimes you just need to do what’s fastest. If this means buying pre-cut veggies instead of hitting a market and washing/prepping yourselves? Rock it.
The same goes for frozen veggies. These can be a huge time saver!
I always tell clients I’d much rather have them eat vegetables than not. So, save yourself the sanity and opt for some packaged stuff if it keeps you sane.
Meal prep tips are all about sanity- not more stress. I’ve long since stopped spending Sunday mornings making every single dinner we’ll eat during the week. Instead, I make sure everything is washed, prepped, and half-cooked to keep life simple.
But Fruit & Nuts/Seeds- Lots
Silly suggestion, right? But honestly, grabbing a piece of fruit with some nuts is not only insanely fast but also healthy. Pairing it with some nuts and seeds helps prevent a sugar crash also, so yay.
The fruit is the fast food or packaged food of the healthy world. It’s simple, tasty and you can run out the door with it in your mouth. So, don’t skimp on buying the simple stuff (like apples and oranges) in place of the less healthy stuff (like fruit roll-ups and dunkaroos – do they still make these?!)
Don’t forget to pint these back to school tips on how to meal prep!
Eating healthy meals while struggling to maintain a routine can be a challenge- a big one. And we all know that us mamas don’t have a lot of extra time (HA). But with a bit of thought and some simple tips on meal prep, you can definitely rock this healthy eating thing for you and the family. Stay sane when it comes to back to school food by planning ahead!