4 Genius Meal Prep Ideas to Save Time & Money

Every Sunday, I do meal prep. This isn't something I've always done and to be completely honest, I dread it every single week. It's something I cannot do when Forrest is around because he loses his mind the moment he sees food. 

This is my way of saving: meal prep isn't fun. I won't pretend it is. However, I always thank Sunday me when Wednesday rolls around and Forrest is scream-crying because he has a fever from his molars and I just cannot cook

If you're like me and you end up buried up to your eyeballs by halfway through the workweek, then these meal tips are for you. 

1. Set aside one day, two hours, and do it. 

This is the most basic of basic tips, but meal prep doesn't have to take an entire day. In fact, I beseech you: don't torture yourself by meal prepping all day. Here's how I typically meal prep: 

  • I make my husband's lunches for the week (always stir fry). 
  • I make my husband's breakfasts for the week. 
  • I make something we can use in meals every single day (like a huge batch of roasted veggies or a bunch of rice). 
  • I make something I can grab as a quick lunch every single day (like pasta or chicken). 

That's it. I don't make huge batches of overnight oats or cute little jars that take up way too much room in my small fridge. I don't torture myself. Don't torture yourself. Set aside two or three hours in one day, plan a menu for the week, and execute it. 

2. Remember to actually eat the things you prep. 

Okay, another really basic tip: remember to eat all this stuff. Whenever my husband forgets his lunch, I basically want to start tearing the doors off our house. (I don't. But I want to.) Remember to keep a list on your fridge or phone of what you have prepped, as well as a rough outline of things you can make every day. I personally do not like to do a menu plan for each day because, guaranteed, by Tuesday evening, I will rebel. Instead, I just make a list of what I have and what possible combinations can come from that. 

3. It's ok to be simple. 

I recently started following a budgeting program and one of the most revolutionary tips was, dinners don't have to be over-the-top insane, crazy. Dinners don't have to be three or four courses. BLTs and salad is fine. Chicken and veggies is fine too. You don't need to go crazy! It's healthier, and will save you money, to not feel like you have to prep a ton of food for each dinner. My advice is to go after simple meals and items. Chicken with rice and veggies can be just as delicious as a huge, hearty, steak-and-potatoes meal. My husband's favorite dinners are stir fry days, when I literally just reheat roasted veggies with some teriyaki sauce, add some chicken, and cook some chow mein noodles. Minimal effort, truly. 

4. Stretch what you make with bulk items. 

When I prep rice and vegetables for the week, I make sure to have things like pre-cooked chicken, beef, and meatballs in the freezer. I usually keep a batch of turkey meatballs and beef meatballs frozen and thaw as needed. I also cook ground beef with peppers and onions and freeze in bags to use for spaghetti, tacos, lasagna, and more. Chicken is easy to cook in the oven, cool, and freeze in individual servings to be de-thawed as necessary. Having these things in your freezer can be added to your weekly prepped items, like rice and roasted vegetables, for a quick lunch or dinner. Keeping canned goods (like black beans, corn, and chickpeas) on hand can also be a quick addition. 

When you meal prep ahead of time, you save yourself time and you save money. None of these items are particularly expensive and if you shop sales, you can get good deals on ground beef and ground turkey to cook in advance. 

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5 Meals for Baby-Led Weaning

By the time I had Forrest, I hadn't heard about baby-led weaning. Which is surprising, because I'd read about just about everything else. I didn't learn about baby-led weaning (or, BLW) until almost 6 months later, when moms in my mom group were starting to introduce solids (or talk about the unnecessary introduction of purees, same difference, I guess). 

I introduced solids at 5 months (I know, blasphemy), which is pretty controversial in the mom world. Most pediatricians recommend not starting until 6 months OR when a baby can sit up. Well, Forrest wasn't sitting up by 6 months, but he WAS eating me out of house-and-home with formula, so, you know what? Solids it is. 

We started with purees and kept with purees for a long time. Whole foods made me nervous. Babies can choke on just about anything, including rice cereal, which is approximately the texture of thinned out Elmer's glue, so I wasn't 100% sold on the idea of handing Forrest a piece of chicken. 

As Forrest got bigger, and started eating stage 2, 3, and 4 purees, I realized he was ready. He was ready to try this BLW thing. He was 7 months old by then and eating just about everything I offered him on a spoon. 

We started having toast in the mornings with him--toast with avocado or just butter or occasionally peanut butter--and he loved it, often eating an entire piece of toast on his own. Forrest has only choked on one thing and that's a meatball; and, to be honest, it's because he was shoving pieces of it into his mouth as fast as he could. 

I recently was writing down the foods he has the easiest time eating and I realized other moms who are nervous nellies about introducing table foods might appreciate these. Here they are. 

1. Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Who doesn't love a nice grilled cheese? I make Forrest's two different ways: either with olive oil, 1 slice of bread (cut in half), and cheddar cheese; or with cream cheese and mashed fruit. He likes both and while yell if I don't hand him pieces fast enough. 

2. Quesadillas

A common thread among these foods is that they are easy to pick up and chew on for him. Quesadillas are one of those things. I usually mash up refried beans, avocado, and cheese (plus any veggie puree I have on hand to make it healthier), spread on half a tortilla, top with the other half, and then grill until a little crisp, but still soft. He will eat the entire thing if I let him. 

3. Toast

Toast, like sandwiches and quesadillas, is easy to pick up. We do avocado on toast, mashed banana on toast, fruit puree on toast, peanut butter, butter, jam, cream cheese... whatever I've got on hand, if it spreads on toast, he's probably eaten it. 

4. Roasted Carrots

Okay, this isn't really a meal, more of a snack. Available finger food baby snacks out there are very... binding. It's rice puffs or corn puffs or generally processed stuff that kind of, well, gross. And if it's not rice puff things, it's straight up choking hazards; those yogurt melt drops for babies are seriously gag-worthy and I've heard of way too many babies choking on them! I cut up two big carrots into sticks, roast them, and keep them in a container in the fridge. I can microwave them for a few seconds and give them to Forrest to gnaw on while I finish his dinner. 

5. Fruit Smoothies

Fruit smoothies are easy to make and it helps babies learn to use a sippy cup. I make mine with a pouch of fruit puree (usually whatever is leftover from breakfast), a scoop of Greek yogurt, a bit of apple juice, and water to thin it. I just shake it up in Forrest's sippy cup and let him go. If you use a puree pouch, it often has veggies in it too, so you're basically supermom. 

Have baby-led weaning tips of your own? Send them to me on Twitter!