Our family has entered a different stage of life as our kids begin to enter teenage years. We seem to be busy with the needs of our two older kids, while trying to meet the demands of a baby and toddler. Stretched thin and short on time is an understatement most of the time. But, we wouldn’t have it any other way! We recognize that this is just a phase of life, it won’t last forever, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. So we may as well buckle up and enjoy the ride!
One of the adjustments we’ve had to make in order to fit in what matters most, is finding ways to cut off time in preparing meals. As you know, we rarely eat out and buy minimally processed food at the store. So these tricks we’ve come up with to make quick, healthy meals are game changers for us. And, I hope they will be for you too!
Here are 10 Tips for Making Quick, Healthy Meals
Get organized. I recently put all of my recipes into a recipe software program. It was no small task and took months to complete. I am forever glad I did though! My life is easier because of it. Find what system works well for you…digital, hand-written, both? Then, organize them based on category (breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc.) You may need subcategories within your categories if you have lots of recipes. 🙂 Finally, meal plan. Take 10 minutes once a week to plan out your next week’s meals.
Have a plan in place. For example: Part of my morning routine is seeing what meal is planned for that night. This allows me to recognize if I need to prepare anything ahead of time and at what time I need to begin dinner based on that evenings activities. Knowing this ahead of time makes for a much smoother evening.
I can’t tell you how many years I went without knowing what was for dinner until it was time for dinner. Because of this, our evenings were more stressful and chaotic than needed. We were all hangry most evenings! And, we ate much later all because I didn’t have a plan in place. Take fifteen minutes each week to plan out your meals, and one minute each morning to assess any prep work for your meal.
Cook in bulk. When possible, cook two of something. Then, you can either freeze it and save it for a busy day or keep it in the fridge for another dinner that week. This cuts off a lot of time in future meal prep. Examples of things to cook in bulk are: chili, muffins, homemade salad dressings, burritos, pancakes, fajita filling, soups, granola bars, breakfast burritos, etc.
Keep a clean kitchen (most of the time (wink!)). Studies show that you will be more likely to cook meals if you have a clean kitchen. But that’s not all. It also shows that you will be more likely to eat healthy if you have a clean kitchen. Interesting connection, right?!
Have a list of quick-meal ideas and keep those ingredients on-hand. Create a list of quick, dinner ideas and always make sure you have those ingredients stocked in your pantry for those times when you’re in a pinch!
Consider purchasing a food meal service for those busy seasons. Whichever service you choose, pick a reputable company that has fresh, healthy ingredients and recipes your family will enjoy. I recommend Hello Fresh, who can help get you through a busy week or month with already prepared ingredients and beautiful, easy-to-follow recipes. And right now, they are offering $60 off your first 3 boxes! I’d definitely give them a try…let them take care of the meal planning, shopping, and preparing ingredients (at least during your super busy weeks!).
Keep you freezer stocked with freezer meals, frozen meats, frozen fruits and vegetables (like frozen diced onions, broccoli, corn, blueberries, etc.), homemade smoothie packets, extra loaves of bread, frozen homemade muffins, frozen spinach (for smoothies), etc. All of these are ideas to help make getting healthy food on the table easier! To take away the freezer burnt effect, I always use freezer bags. I like to buy them on Amazon because it’s easy and I get free shipping.
Buy already chopped produce When feasible, buy bags of already chopped produce. It saves so much time to not wash, dry, and chop. My favorite vegetables to buy already washed and chopped are celery, broccoli, cauliflower rice, and baby carrots.
Utilize the grocery store salad bar! Smith’s/Kroger has an excellent salad bar at many of their locations. Our family will use this as our “fast food” on busy nights. Our kids love this!
Use your crockpot and Instant Pot. Both are awesome and are used at different times depending on my schedule. The crockpot is great for when you have time earlier in the day to prepare food into crockpot and if you need your meal ready as soon as you get home. The Instant Pot is for those last minute, flying-by-the-seat of your pants kind of meals. You can have amazing savory stew in 30 minutes! The Instant Pot is more my style and is used most often in our house. Here is a stew recipe we enjoy making using our instant pot: Instant Pot Perfect Beef Stew
I hope you found some of these tips helpful toward making quick, healthy meals. I’d love to know some of the tips you have for quick meals. Comment below and let me know! <3