To all you meal prepping mamas(29 Posts)
I never meal prep or batch cook but yesterday I gave it a shot. It was spread throughout the day but by the end I was wiped!
Here is what I made but I still don't feel like it's helped me out enough! Sandwiches aren't great for my LO as she is fussy with veg atm so I prefer to sneak it in hence the sauces and soups.
Soup for a few lunches which we will eat with some bread and butter.
Vegetable sauce to serve with pasta or gnocci and cheese.
I also made a rice and black bean dish for DP for the week. He doesn't expect me to make him lunches and I never normally do. I guess I am trying to feed all of us!
After breakfast and dinner which was mash with spring chicken I don't feel like I have got very far at all.
I still have to make dinner every night. I can use some of the veg sauce for one but still.
I kind of think maybe it is easier to continue to serve eggs with veg and bagel or bread for lunch and spend 45 mins feeding DD /bribing DD etc. And then make dinner but at least I am not cooking as much.
So my question is how much do you prep? How far does it go? Was it harder at first but you have got used to it? And are there any appliances you use to help?
I recently bought the latest Ninja blender which blends, chops etc. and is just amazing which does help.
I'm not a mum but I food prep A LOT. Not in exactly the way you have though.
On a Sunday I will make pack up for me and DP for mon and tues, so it's ready. I also cook all recipes to serve four so that there are two more to be portioned up and refrigerated or frozen. These normally get used as work lunches or quick dinners. I never work more than ten days ahead.
You might also find it handy to use your ninja to pre chop onions, garlic, chilli, peppers etc. These can be chucked into sandwich bags and frozen - handy for cooking.
Our main batch cooking thing is soups but in the summer we also make a lot of hearty salads. Our main reason for batch cooking is to have plenty of stuff for lunches during the week (rather than buying lunch at work).
We tend to make dinner fresh each night, rather than batch cook dinners, but as most recipes are for 4 people, we usually end up with portions of leftovers for the freezer which are useful for lunches (depending on what the leftovers are) or for dinners on those nights when you come home and really can't be bothered cooking.
My go-to bits of equipment for batch cooking are:
- hand blender (for soups)
- big cast iron pots with lids for stove-to-oven 'one pot' cooking
- slow cooker (better for meat dishes than veggie dishes IMO) - chuck everything in and forget about it for 12 hours!
I find I don't use my food processor that much as I can't be arsed cleaning it.
I find dinner is the best one to prep for, as you're knackered and hungry at the end of the day. I batch cook loads of the following in the slow cooker, freeze some and keep one or two days worth in the fridge:
I also make lots of individual sized servings of pizza dough and put them in freezer bags to take out the night before, then we can pile on lots of veggies and have big veggie pizzas.
I then just serve lots of fresh veg and salads with everything.
reow what is your pizza dough recipe please? That is such a good idea and something I can serve with a salas so perfect for Summer! I also like your meal ideas as that is all stuff I like.
clara yes I need of those stove to oven pots. Will save on washing up too!
Thank you twenty for the idea of batch chopping those vital ingrediants! Great tip!
Make a giant bolognese sauce
Make some into lasagne and freeze ready to cook
Freeze some in food bags (one portion per bag here)
Make a moussaka (although aubergine doesn't freeze well so that's more same day)
Savoury mince. Cottage pie freezes very well.
I also make and freeze fish pies as whole meals and individual portions.
Soups. Nice and easy!
When DH and I were both working FT and in offices I would make a week's worth of sandwiches on a Sunday and freeze them as well as enough crudités and keep them airtight in the fridge out the freezer in the morning and they're defrosted by lunch time
Portions of curry
When we did our batch cooking before the baby arrived we also cooked rice, portioned it with the chilli/curry and it all microwaves well :-)
My local Costco was selling plastic "food containers" (like Chinese food comes in) and so they're my batch cooking saviours. Freeze and reheat all in one!
And when the baby's needing a lot of attention, I eat out of them too!
In the summer, we have an enormous salad bowl in the fridge too. Constant quick and easy dinners!
I found a big batch cook at the weekend too exhausting, but what works for me is to never cook just one meal - always cook double quantities of what you'd cook anyway and either freeze or chill to use for another meal.
I'm quite half arsed about it but yesterday for example I made a onion/celery/carrot/tomat/mince base then split it in half.
One half I made into chilli (6 portions, so dinner for last night and dinner for another night).
The other half is now a lasagne which will do tonight and another night.
The kids don't care about eating the same meal on repeat but I will chuck the leftovers in the fridge and do something different for tomorrow, again double portions so I can save cooking another night.
I cook a main meal on Sat, Sun, Mon and Tues but I always double up (or triple) and freeze the extra. Then Weds, Thurs, Fri it's no cooking, just pull out of the freezer and prepare what's going with it. I also make a soup at the weekend for weekday lunches for me. DD either gets soup for lunch or a small portion of leftovers from the night before.
I have a 6 week meal planner that rotates the stuff in the freezer so it's always full but I know that we're going to use it. (I do occasionally go off plan!)
I use my hand blender a lot and got an instant pot for Christmas which has been amazing. Desperately want something that chops though!
teaand very interested in your 6wk meal planner. Can I have a glimpse?!
The Ninja I have is great for chopping as you can choose how fine you want it. I have had way more veg than usual because it is so much easier.
Thank you all so much for your responses. They are helping mw figure out a plan.
Oh blimey, I'm not sure it's up to Mumsnet scrutiny! But I'll try to put it up.
I basically went through a couple of favourite recipe books for everyday meals and wrote down all the meals we like to eat (and that toddler will eat) and then picked out the ones that would freeze. Then I just started slotting them in, so if we were having bolognese on the Saturday of week 1, we could have the frozen portion on Weds of week 3. Fishcakes on Sunday of week 1 could be the Thursday of week 5 etc. Took a bit of tweaking to make sure we weren't having a week of red meat or pasta but it's made life so much easier.
I don't do it like this. If I'm making a curry/spag bol/chilli etc. I just make twice what I'll need for that meal and freeze the rest for another time. Then just defrost, reheat and add pasta/rice etc.
teaand ah I see, that is a good idea. I think when the toddler and baby are napping together (?!) I will have a shot at that! Maybe I will start of with 3 weeks to begin with. I suppose it saves on money in the long run?
I definitely need to start freezing the second meal of bolognese/cottage pie etc. It goes in the fridge but we never fancy it again that week and so in the bin it goes not anymore!
We don't meal prep but on a day when we're home we cook at least double, or triple if it will fit in the pan. Then I am really strict on freezing it. If there isn't a whole family worth of left overs they go in individual portions which either get used for a mix and match dinner day or lunches.
The days we are both working we can just about manage to boil pasta or defrost something from the freezer.
I am not sure if I had savoury mince in the freezer I would remember what to serve with or even have time to mash potatoes on a busy day. So I'm not sure how much prepping would work.
Oh and as for cooking with a baby.,. I make stuff during her lunchtime nap and then cook the rice/pasta when we want it later in the day. We only eat meals that need prepping at the same time as eating on a weekend. Midweek meals all improve (!) with 4 hours on the hob!
I tend to nap myself if I get baby and toddler down at the same time! But I only do any cooking when DD is at nursery so I've only got the baby to contend with.
The meal planner is definitely saving us money. I don't scrimp on shopping but I'm not wasting as much as we used to. I online shop to pick up on a Friday but it's so much easier when you don't have to think through meals for the week. I'll try to get my plan up later - nap time probably!
katyn love the idea of putting leftovers into small portions if not big enough for family meals; definitely going to start doing that!
teaand I tend to nurse a coffee for half an hour and slouch on the sofa for the rest! I am too scared to cook in case I wake one of them but I can definitely jot down a meal planner is silence ha ha
And thank you if you do get the time to share!
I'm back to work soon after mat leave so trying to do a bit of meal planning to make life easier.
DD is a swimmer so need to have a few nights where she gets a good feed quickly before training.
Here it is! Not perfect by any stretch but it works for us.
Friday is a bit different because DH and I try to eat together after the toddler is in bed so the Friday column is just ideas for quick things that one of us can make whilst the other does bedtime. Or we get a take away (more often than we cook!!) Sometimes we eat all together and I'll just pull a spare meal out of the freezer.
Thanks tea looks amazing and very clear. I am definitely inspired by you and I am going to make a monthly plan. Actually quite excited about that! I also love your soup day! DP isn't keen on soup
but then he isn't keen on anything I make unless it is steak or burgers etc.! but he will have to make do!
I find the weekends difficult for cooking and fitting around whatever we may be doing so the freezed food would be especially great then.
Lots of food for thought here
Thanks again! I really appreciate it!
I started with a plan for a month and found we hardly had any of the basics in that we wanted so had to go to 6 weeks. Thinking of increasing ours to 8 weeks - crazy!
I like soup day. DH has proper meal in work, DD eats a proper meal at nursery and I have a single portion of something in the freezer at lunch. I do tend to do soups with pulses in just so there's a bit more to them and then at the weekend, I also do a basic soup for lunches during the week.
Enjoy your meal planning!
That's brilliant tea, really helpful.
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