Healthy Meal Plans for Homeschoolers: Tips for Pre-Prepping Ingredients
Welcome back to the next installment of our Healthy Meal Plan for Homeschoolers Series for Enlightium Academy. Be sure to check out previous posts on here. In case you haven't realized it yet, in general, I like to cook. I like finding new recipes and creating my own tasty meals to share with loved ones. I am one of those weirdos who even enjoys grocery shopping. But that does not mean I always feel like doing it! One strategy that helps me feed my family throughout the week is by preparing the ingredients I will need before cooking.
This is the third entry in the Healthy Meal for Homeschoolers series. You can find the entire series at this link.
Let me share an example.
At the grocery store last week, I picked up a a few sweet potatoes, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms for a couple of different dishes. I knew the week would be a busy one and when I got home from the store, I prepped all of the fresh ingredients for the recipes I would use them for. I also know that I am usually most excited about my grocery store purchases right after I buy them. So, I cubed the sweet potatoes and sliced everything else for fajitas I’d be cooking later that week. After I roasted the sweet potatoes and let them cool, I stored them and some vegetables in separate containers in the fridge. Throughout the week, I added sweet potatoes to my lunches. On a particularly hectic evening that week, I was able to quickly toss the fajitas with the seasoning mix (which I also prepared ahead of time) and start cooking.
What if I don’t have time to prep?
What if you don't have time or don't feel like prepping ingredients when you get home from the store? Then do it when you want to! Maybe you are chopping onions for dinner. Instead of just chopping the one onion you need for your recipe, chop a few extra that you will use later in the week. Simply store them in a container in the fridge and pull them out when you are ready. And while you have the cutting board out, you might as well slice up those greens for tomorrow night’s salad.
I find this method to be particularly helpful for actually eating those fruits and vegetables you buy intending to eat but end up throwing out two weeks later. By preparing these ingredients before cooking, you give yourself a better chance of actually using them. Think about all those heads of broccoli and bunches of spinach you will actually eat! Or, try slicing carrots and cucumbers into sticks or mixing fruit for a salad before snack time, so when the kids say they are hungry, you can point them to the fresh ingredients you have already prepared.
When it comes to cooking, I like to take all the shortcuts I can to set myself up for success. Preparing ingredients before cooking helps me use all the ingredients I have and still feed my family well on those inevitable evenings when I just don't feel like cooking.
Check out these great resources on preparing foods ahead of time:
- Great tip: Precook a Week’s Worth of Vegetables
- How to Store Salad So It Stays Fresh & Ready to Mix-n-Match
- 25 (Actually Easy) Ways to Prep for Dinner Before You Leave for Work
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