What are the best meal prep tips for busy moms? How can busy moms figure out how to meal prep and prioritize their health? If you want to know the best meal prep tips for busy moms, learn about how to live a meal prep lifestyle and get ideas on some delicious meal prep recipes, like ground turkey cauliflower fried rice, then keep reading.
What makes me qualified to share meal prep tips for busy moms who want to be healthy? Well, I have lived a meal prep lifestyle for 8 years. I started meal prepping because I wanted to see if I could become even healthier by combining my love of extreme workouts with food that was good for me. Through years of trial and error, I have discovered the best meal prep tips. I have successfully juggled meal prepping while being a full time teacher , completing multiple advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. and starting and running a business . Four years ago, I also became a mom and life got busier, so busy that I had to adjust the way that I meal prep and now I’d love to share with you 17 of the best meal prep tips for busy moms who want to be healthy.
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What are the Best Meal Prep Tips for Busy Moms?
Before we dive into 17 of the best meal prep tips for busy moms who want to be healthy, I do want to give you some information on meal prep. Meal prep is the practice of preparing meals in advance of when you will eat them. After preparing the meals, most people who meal prep will divide the meals into individually sized containers, so that it is easier to get their prepped meals ready for eating.
What is the Value of Meal Prep Tips for Busy Moms?
As I mentioned above, I discovered my meal prep tips for busy moms over 8 years of meal prepping, first as a wife and then more recently as a mother. As a wife, meal prep was essential due to the fact that I was completing my PhD. I did not have much time and I wanted to be sure that the meals my husband and I ate were nutritious and healthy. The meal prep tips I used for the first 4 years of my meal prep journey would not work for busy moms. Those meal prep tips would not work for busy moms because even though I had limited time, I still didn’t have some of the challenges that come from being a mother, such as having your child with you and having to plan your life around their schedule.
However, after my first 4 years of meal prep, when I became a mother, my meal prep practices and tips drastically changed because I was now living the same life as busy moms. Some of the most important changes were that I had to be more firm in the day I prepped my meals, I had to meal prep in much shorter periods of time and as my son got older, I had to select and cook meal prep that he would also want to eat.
To get back to the value of meal prep tips for busy moms, it will help you to feed your family quality, nutritious meals. It will reduce some of the stress you feel in feeding your family. Meal prep will save your family money and minimize the need to order food. It will also help busy moms to achieve and maintain their health and fitness goals.
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What Supplies and Tools are Needed to Follow the Best Meal Prep Tips for Busy Moms Who Want to be Healthy?
The tools and supplies that are needed to follow the best meal prep tips for busy moms will vary from mom to mom. When I first began meal prepping, I didn’t have any specialized tools and I got by, but later I started being more intentional with the tools I bought because they helped me to shorten my meal prep time. What are some of these supplies and tools I used as part of my best meal prep tips for busy moms who want to be healthy?
I primarily use the following tools and supplies as a part of my meal prep tips for busy moms. I will have a follow up post, where I get more specific about the tools you need to help you carry out my meal prep tips for busy moms, but here are some of my essentials.
1. Air Fryer
2. Glass Meal Prep Containers
3. Food Saver
5. Popcorn Air Popper
6. Quality pots and pans
Now that I’ve shared why you need these meal prep tips for busy moms and some of the tools and supplies that can help you to shorten your meal prep time and be successful, let’s jump into the 17 best meal prep tips for busy moms who want to be healthy.
1. Plan ahead for busy weekends
First up on my meal prep tips for busy moms is to plan ahead. It seems obvious, but I cannot stress how many times this has happened to me and how it almost derailed my meal prep routine. When I say plan ahead, I mean to think of busy or challenging weekends when your schedule will be thrown off.
Planning ahead is my first meal prep tip for busy moms because if you plan ahead, then you can prepare extra meal prep recipes or ingredients on normal weeks. Planning ahead will help you to know when you need to make simpler, less time consuming meal preps . This meal prep tip will help you to stay on track, in spite of challenging weeks, which will help you to succeed as a busy mom who wants to be healthy.
2. Prepare extras of your favorite meal prep items that can be frozen and preserved.
In keeping with tip one above, my second meal prep tip is to prepare extras of your favorite meal prep ingredients that can be frozen and preserved. Preparing extra meal prep will help you in those unavoidable circumstances when you are unable to prep. It will save you financially from having to order out and will also save you health wise from having to eat less healthy food options than you would have preferred. Some of my favorite meal prep ingredients and meals to make extras of are chilis and chicken.
3. Use a variety of meal prep methods
My third meal prep tips for busy moms is to use a wide variety of meal prep methods. Now, if you’re a beginner to meal prep, you may need an explanation. Just like with your typical meals, there are of course many different methods of preparing your meal prep. Some types of meal prep are more time intensive and others require very little effort, which would be great for busy moms.
It is my third meal prep tip for busy moms that each week you vary your meal prep method. You should especially be sure to vary your prep based on the amount of time you have available and other important factors that may be happening in your family. For example, some weekends all of my meal prep meals happen in crockpots because they typically require less monitoring and effort. Other types of meal prep that are highly recommended for busy moms on weeks when you are short on time or just exhausted are one pot/pan meals and meals that can be made in the air fryer or oven.
This meal prep tip for busy moms has come in handy on weeks when we had to be away from home (crockpot), went out of town and returned late on Sunday (one pot/pan) or were dealing with illnesses or other unplanned events. I typically leave my stove top and more difficult meal prep methods or recipes for weeks when we have more time or when I’m feeling energetic and well rested. Varying your type of meal prep method is one tip that every busy mom definitely needs to know and use.
4. Use base ingredients that can be used in many ways
My next meal prep tip for busy moms who want to be healthy is to use base ingredients that are able to be used in several different meal preps. The easiest example that comes to mind is chicken breast. Chicken breast, cooked in the oven or crock pot, can be added to chili, stir fries, casseroles, one pot/pan meals, quesadillas, tacos and the list literally goes on and on. My fourth meal prep tip for busy moms is another that will be a time and sanity saver.
5. Carve out the same day and time for meal prep
One of the best tips that I can offer for meal prepping busy moms is to create and carve out a schedule, preferably the same day and time weekly. The reason I recommend this is to ensure that it will actually get done. If you make meal prep a priority and it is consistent, you will be more likely to complete it. Those in your family will know that your meal prep time is “protected” as well. This meal prep tip for busy moms has worked well in my family. My husband and son know that on Sundays, as early as possible, depending on our other obligations, I will be missing for about an hour while I complete meal prep for the week.
6. Memorize your favorite meal prep recipes to maximize time
My next meal prep tip for busy moms is one I wish someone would have shared with me when I first started. Meal prep used to take a long time for me. It took anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, sometimes even more time than that. A great part of that time was spent with me bent over my phone trying to see what step came next in the way too difficult recipe I had located on Pinterest. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I love Pinterest and it has helped me to find and modify some of my now favorite meal prep recipes, but as a beginner, you are better off using some simple recipes, maybe some that you already know that you’ve modified to make healthier.
Here’s an actual example of this meal prep tip for busy moms in action. I love fried rice, but of course depending on how it’s done it’s not the healthiest, but with some simple changes, it can be much healthier and still a very simple recipe to make.
7. Cook items in batches
My seventh meal prep tips for busy moms is one I’m disappointed in how long it took me to realize. Early on, I didn’t have any real rhyme or reason in the way I meal prepped and that is another reason why it took me so long to complete meal prep weekly, but then I started trying to approach my meal prep more efficiently.
In this meal prep tip for busy moms, I highly recommend that you prepare parts of your meal prep meals based on the time and level of monitoring needed. Over weeks and years of practice, I’ve learned that boiling eggs, cooking brown rice or pasta and chicken in an air fryer take approximately the same amount of time. Each of these require little to no monitoring once you’ve started, so you can start them at around the same time, set them to cook and then just get back to them when it’s time to take them out or off. On the other hand steel cut oats, on the stove, need to be stirred, so that is a step that needs to be done on its own.
Knowing and cooking meal prep meals in batches is a meal prep tip that will help busy moms to maximize their cooking time and greatly reduce the overall time from beginning to end of their weekly meal prep.
8. Buy frozen/canned veggies
This meal prep tip for busy moms is one that I use sparingly and one that I advise you to use sparingly as well. I would love to have all my vegetables cooked fresh, but for financial, availability and sometimes time reasons, it is not always possible. In those cases, I try to have frozen and/or canned vegetables on hand to complete my meal prep meals. Some of my favorite frozen vegetables to have on hand are broccoli, cauliflower rice and mixed vegetables. I almost always also have canned green beans on hand, in case I cannot make them fresh. This meal prep tip has helped me tremendously. I have grabbed extra chicken breast from my freezer and combined it with a canned or frozen vegetable to get me through a weekend when things went crazy. This meal prep tip will help other busy moms save their meal prep weekends as well.
9. Know the food places near you with healthy/healthier food options
Here’s yet another meal prep tip for busy moms that’s based on your world falling apart, which let’s just be honest is a part of what happens as a mom, know the food places close by that have healthy or healthier food options. Life happens and sometimes you just cannot get your weekly meal prep done or not on your regular day. You may need a day or two to get back on your schedule. This is when knowing the healthy options near you will come in handy. For example, there is a Chinese restaurant near my home that has a delicious and fairly healthy shrimp with broccoli meal. It is typically served with rice but I just ask them to hold the rice and add extra broccoli. Using this meal prep tip for busy moms, I can still eat well and continue to work towards my fitness and health goals.
10. Be honest with yourself
This is another meal prep tip for busy moms that I wish I would have learned faster. Why is it important to be honest with yourself when meal prepping? Easy, so you don’t waste time, effort, food and money. You need to be honest about what you like to eat or are willing to try. You also need to be honest about how long you can eat the same thing and you need to be honest about your willpower to turn down the offer or offers from your coworkers to go out and eat, even when you have your meal prep with you. The last one wasn’t hard for me, but the others were. I cannot tell you how much food I wasted, at first, just cooking any healthy meals I found that reheated well. I would make myself eat it on the first day, but would then decide I didn’t like it or was tired of it and yes, you guessed it...there went wasted food and money down the drain. Please use this meal prep tip to help with your success as a busy mom.
11. Timers are your friends
This meal prep tip for busy moms is essential when you are starting out with meal prep: timers are your friends. Set a timer while cooking to make sure that the chicken or rice doesn’t burn, while you are busy prepping the vegetables. Yes, I’ve fallen victim once or twice, but now I am meticulous about setting timers and I also do some of my prep out of habit. Use this meal prep tip to save your delicious food and prevent you from losing your cool as a busy mom who’s burned the meal prep.
12. Use your family as helpers, if possible
This next meal prep tip for busy moms will again help with efficiency and stress. Make meal prep a family time where, if appropriate, members of the family help out. Even my four year old helps by fetching ingredients and by cutting up veggies and fruits. He loves to crack eggs and also help me stir things. Initially, you may want to use your family sparing until you work out how you want things to run, but after you have a system, then they can be really useful to move your meal prep along. This is yet another meal prep tip that busy moms can use to make meal prep easier.
13. Meal prep recipes that keep and reheat well
This next meal prep tip for busy moms should be obvious, but I have learned not to take things for granted. Be sure to meal prep recipes and meals that keep well and taste good reheated. As an example, some premade enchiladas with the tortilla baked in don’t always keep well. Instead, make the meat sauce and then carry it separate from your tortilla to make sure that you can reheat the sauce and meat without having the tortilla get soggy or hard. I hope this meal prep tip saves busy moms from unappetizing food.
14. Watch your portions
This next meal prep tip for busy moms can work in both ways and makes me think about Goldilocks. You want to stay away from making too much and too little. You want it to be just right. I have experienced all of the above, but have now perfected my portions. When you first begin to meal prep, measure everything and then multiply as needed. This meal prep tip for busy moms will help you to make the amount that’s actually needed.
15. Decide on meal prep for the following week early
Yet another meal prep tip that will be key for busy moms is to decide on your meal prep for the following week early, maybe by mid way from the day you complete your prep. This will help you to feel confident, look up a recipe, talk it up with toddlers and whatever else you need to do to be ready before your weekly meal prep actually begins. This meal prep tip will help busy moms, especially beginners, wrap their minds around their meal prep.
16. Make Your grocery list well before your meal prep day
Learn from my failure with this meal prep tip for busy moms and make your grocery list well before your meal prep day. Meal prep lists, made in a hurry, are usually incomplete and then you will be stuck without something you need to complete your meal prep. You could get lucky and be able to replace or work around it, but take my advice with the sixteenth meal prep tip for busy moms and just make your list ahead of time.
17. Make up your Mind to Meal Prep and Mean it
My final and most important meal prep tip for busy moms is to make up your mind about meal prep and mean it. Decide that you will do meal prep to save money, feed your family and be healthier. Think about how stressed you feel making daily meals or how much money you waste eating out and just make up your mind to meal prep. There will always be an excuse, but I can tell you eight years in that I have yet to regret my meal prep lifestyle. Heed my seventeenth meal prep tip for busy moms and make up your mind to meal prep and then do it.
Before You Go
I hope my meal prep tips for busy moms have been useful to you. If you aren’t already, you should definitely follow me on Facebook and Instagram because I share my weekly meal prep meals there and also answer questions as needed. If you found these meal prep tips for busy moms helpful, please share it with someone else and don’t forget to pin it for later.
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