How to meal prep like a BOSS for the whole family

We hear it often: ‘preparation is key to success…’ but what does that actually mean and how do you get started when you have no idea where to begin? The first thing you need to do is set aside some time on whatever day you consider your week to start. For me my scheduling goes like this:

Planning Phase

(Friday) Set out for the week ahead ‘Monday to Sunday’. What am I doing? I have a magnetic weekly planner on my fridge – Hubby and I sync our iPhone calendars so we can both add appointments and work commitments. This way there is ‘less disputes’ around sharing information of what’s happening each week. I use my iPhone calendar to map put on my whiteboard:

  • Hubby’s shifts and other work commitments (day shift / night shifts / late meeting etc)
  • Kids school / after school activities (library day – swimming lessons, soccer etc)
  • Any appointments or one-offs (doctors / physio appointments etc)

Dive into the detail of seasonal buys and specials

Check out Coles and Woolworths catalogues for any specials. Now of course you don’t have to do this step, but this is a great way to save money, help you with meal ideas and to shop seasonally. If all the Mexican or Indian food is half price, you can bet that this will form part of my weekly dinners! I like to shop at Aldi but sometimes the logistics are too hard with the kids.I’m also a fan of using the ‘click and collect’ services.

Mapping the week of cooking

Ok we are on a roll, we have a weekly tasks mapped out, we have planned what we are going to make for dinner. Keep in mind that on the days when you have a busy afternoon – don’t plan to cook something time consuming like a chicken curry from scratch! You are setting yourself up to fail with these small errors of judgement… Don’t be afraid to plan for a ‘leftovers / easy night’ I do for us.

When we have swimming lessons finishing at 5pm, I know I’ve got less than half hour to get dinner on the table from walking in the door to starving whining boys, so this is the night I might plan to have bacon and eggs or pancakes for dinner as I know I can have done QUICK! (yep, that how we roll some nights) and I’m 100% fine with this as it means I haven’t spent money on take away or compromised on a really unhealthy meal.

Don’t forget all the other meals and items you need

Don’t forget to plan out all the other meals you eat as well. A rookie mistake I made in the early days was forgetting to prep out lunch and snacks… I kept running out of food and wondering why I was still ending up in the grocery store a few times a week? Once I realised I was missing this huge step – the stars started aligning and everything got easier again! So what are you having for lunch this week? Quiche, zucchini fritters, chicken salads?

Whatever you decide on, add the ingredients onto your list, same goes with your snacks, and lunchbox items for the kids. Now the last things you need  – do a walk through of the house, do you need soap, washing powder, toilet paper, toothpaste – add in anything else you need outside of the kitchen.

Bulk buys

Depending on how you budget, if you can afford to ‘stock up’ on items that you use often when they are half price this is a great way to save in the long run… if body wash / laundry soaker / deodorant / batteries are on sale, I’m buying double and putting it aside as I know that I’m using these things often and it saves money in the long run.

This isn’t the best strategy to use if you need to stick to a tight budget weekly or fortnightly. I prefer to meal prep and shop weekly. We eat a lot of fresh produce (and just a lot of food in general with a family of 5!) so I don’t think I could actually fit a fortnight of food in my fridge. Our weekly grocery spend is about $250 all inclusive.

Laying down the plans

I plan out all the details on the Friday, I’ll get the shopping done / ordered on either a Saturday or Sunday depending on what commitments I have over the weekend, and I will generally spend Sunday arvos doing my weekly prep work. I am very grateful to own an abundance of Tupperware so I don’t let myself put anything in the fridge until I chop up all my vege into containers to keep the best freshness for my food.

If you are the type of person that just puts all your fruit and vege in the fridge as is – I can bet you are throwing it all in the bin by the end of the week and have a whole bunch of celery that is wobbling more than that balloon stickman at your local car yard!! If you are looking to up your fresh food game invest in the tools to help you keep your food snap fresh for longer, it does have an upfront cost, but ultimately will save you lots in the long run from not throwing away food.

Time to cook!

Ok it is finally time to move on to actually prepping all the food you have just bought! So what are you having for lunches this week? Get that quiche in the oven to start baking… Are you making a Sunday roast? While the quiche for lunch prep is cooking away, start cutting up your vege for dinner, get that ready to pop into the oven as soon as the quiche is done.

Let’s get on to making some protein balls for snacks, grab those ingredients, blend, roll and get those into the fridge to cool. HOT TIP: If you despise rolling these treats just pop it all into a slice tray, smooth out and once refrigerated for a few hours you can cut these into squares!! Yay, we just saved some more time and no sticky hands…who said they have to be balls anyway!

By now you’re starting to grasp the idea of what you need to do here… there are no hard and fast rules, it will be trial and error of working out what suits your own personal style – the key to getting it done like a BOSS! is preparing your time in the most efficient ways to get through multiple tasks without feeling overwhelmed.