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With the kids at home and many camps closed this summer, your days probably look a lot like mine: wash and prep, cook, serve, clean. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Although scratch cooking and serving real, whole foods can encourage healthy eating habits, your life will be so much easier with some healthy meal prep ideas for the week.
While meal planning is a great idea, I’m also a big fan of meal prep and batch cooking because it takes the guesswork out of dinner, ensures you always have healthy meals and snacks available, plus, it saves so much time.
Here, read on to get some of my best healthy meal prep ideas for the week plus 16 recipes to try.
HEALTHY MEAL PREP IDEAS FOR THE WEEK SAVES YOU TIME
1. GET CLEAR GLASS CONTAINERS
Meal prep is awesome but you also want to make sure that everything you prep is visible in your refrigerator.
Not only does it make deciding what’s for dinner and cooking meals easier and faster, but when you have healthy choices front and center, your kids are more likely to reach for those instead of heading to the pantry when they want a snack.
Clear, glass containers (I like this set from Pyrex) also keep all of your produce fresh, and prevent food from spoiling, drying out, getting soggy or absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator.
I also like using glass containers instead of plastic because they easily go from the fridge and the freezer to the microwave or the oven which also helps you save time.
2. MAKE BREAKFAST THE NIGHT BEFORE
The silver lining to the pandemic is that more families are cooking and spending more time around the table together— and breakfast is no exception.
Cereal is super-easy and quick but if you’re looking for new ideas, here are some you can pull together ahead of time:
- Overnight oats
- Baked oatmeal
- Green smoothies
- Breakfast casseroles
- Breakfast bowls
- Egg muffins
- Freezer breakfast burritos
- Muffins, breads, pancakes, waffles (they all freeze well!)
- Fruit and yogurt parfaits
3. PULL TOGETHER SMOOTHIE PACKETS
Whether it’s for breakfast or an afternoon snack, smoothies are a great non-sneaky way to get more fruits and vegetables in your kid’s diet and one of the best healthy meal prep ideas for the week.
Simply wash and prep your fruits and vegetables and set them aside in individual Ziplock bags. Then when you’re ready, pop them in your blender or Vitamix—so easy!
Related: How To Make Smoothies For Kids
4. USE YOUR APPLIANCES
One of the ingredients I despise having to prep is garlic because it takes so much time to peel.
I used to buy peeled garlic, but to save money on groceries, we’ve been buying regular garlic.
Pampered Chef makes a great Garlic Slicer and Peeler which I should probably buy because having kitchen gadgets and appliances on hand makes meal prep so much easier.
At the very basic level, a processor or mandolin can go a long way in prepping vegetables.
5. BUILD MEALS IN MASON JARS
Using mason jars in different sizes is a great way to meal prep ahead of time and allows you to know what you have in your refrigerator and pantry. Use them to store:
- Herbs and spices
- Pasta, rice and other grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts, seeds, and nut butters
- Sugar and sugar substitutes
- Leftover smoothies
You can also use mason jars to pull together meals and snacks like:
- Overnight oats
- Yogurt parfaits
- Fruits and veggies for snacks
- Chia seed pudding
- Chocolate avocado pudding
- Eggs and omelets
- Burrito bowls
- Pasta salad
6. GROUP & MULTITASK
Productivity experts say the best way to save time is to group similar tasks together.
So think about washing, peeling and cutting several fruits and vegetables at one time instead of switching back and forth between meal prep tasks.
That’s not to say however, that you shouldn’t multi-task because it can save you time.
For example, I’ll boil water for pasta or simmer a batch of lentils while I’m cutting up fruit for snacks. Or I’ll pre-heat the oven while my kids and I are mixing up batter for breads.
7. GET THE KIDS IN THE KITCHEN
When we were in the midst of distance learning these past few months, my kids often asked to make their own lunches in the morning.
While it wasn’t exactly what I would have packed for them, it gave them ownership and empowered them to make their own healthy choices.
When it comes to healthy meal prep ideas for the week, it may seem counterintuitive to get your kids in the kitchen but depending on their ages, when they take the lead, it can actually save you time.
You can give them certain parameters like “please choose a fruit and a vegetable,” but other than that, let them learn, experiment and be creative.
8. CLEAN UP AS YOU GO
My husband used to work as a chef and so although he can whip up the most amazing meal in no time (and I totally don’t mind!), one of my pet peeves is the mess he makes.
While he would rather clean up when he’s done (if I don’t beat him to it), when I cook, I clean up as I go because I think it saves time.
When dinner is in the oven or simmering on the stove, use that time to load dishes in the dishwasher and wash pots and pans. Sure, you’ll still have to clean up the dishes after dinner, but you’ll have less mess than if you wait to do everything at the end.
HEALTHY MEAL PREP IDEAS FOR THE WEEK: RECIPES
These healthy meal prep ideas for the week are delicious, kid-friendly and so quick and easy.
1. Mixed Berry Fruit-On-The Bottom Yogurt Cups – from Kitchen Confidante
2. Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats – from Momables
3. Freezer Breakfast Burritos – from Gimme Some Oven
4. Easy Veggie Waffles – from LaLa Lunchbox
5. Vegetarian Breakfast Casserole – from Well Plated by Erin
LUNCH & DINNER
6. Make Ahead Lunch Bowls: Greek Chicken and Veggies – from Super Healthy Kids
7. Vegetarian Mason Jar Burrito Bowls – from She Likes Food
8. Kid-Friendly Broccoli Cheddar Soup – from Easy Real Food
9. Greek Chicken Meal Prep Rice Bowls – from Skinnytaste
10. Rainbow Fruit Popsicles – from Weelicious
11. Mini Buffalo Chicken Salsa Dip Jars – from The Girl on Bloor
12. Healthy No-Bake Granola Bites – from Tastes Better From Scratch
13. Skinny Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip – From SkinnyMs