Many of you have been asking me how I meal prep and get things done quick. Everyone is busy these days, stay at home parents, working parents, and non parents, it doesn't matter. We are ALL busy!
Being a busy mom to 3 growing boys, dinner time or the hour before turns into a mad house. Usually it's the time of day where everyone is throwing a fit or losing it and I just have to plan ahead for those unexpected tantrums that might play in before dinner where someone is throwing a fit because I won't let them eat a snack, or someone is being dramatic and says they may not survive and need something right then.
Between the homeschooling, pickup/drop offs, me time, gym time, school, extra curricular activities, stuck in traffic commute, and socializing, we all need a little prep time to make meal time easier on us.
Here are a few things I do to make my kitchen prep time short during the busy weekdays.
#1. Garlic/Ginger Paste
This is my everything! It's a staple in all my dishes and really cuts the time of peeling, chopping and cleanup while making any dish. Add it to marinades, curries, salad dressings. It's a great staple to have on hand and I explain how I make it here with an extra special ingredient for health benefits.
#2. Fried Onion
This is exactly what it is, deep fried onions. Another staple to any South Asian dish and another important ingredient for delicious flavor packed curries or rice dishes. Just slice up 7 to 8 large onions thinly with a mandolin or food processor slicer attachment and then fry them on medium heat until golden brown. Drain in a single layer on a sheet tray lined with paper towel. Let them completely cool then store in a resealable bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 months or freezer for 6 months. The oil helps preserve the freshness and you don't have to worry about wasting time during the week frying onions for each individual dish, let alone stinking up the whole house.
#3. Premarinate/ Cook Meats
This is a big one. I like to plan ahead for the week on what I will be making. Pre cutting and marinating meats on Sunday before the week starts is great. Sundays are also our garbage day so I'm able to get rid of any unwanted waste and can make sure things are cleaned and sanitized for the week.
I like to marinate things I know both us adults and our children will enjoy. I also try to marinate items that I know if leftover, can be used in sandwiches or salads for the next day. Some of my staple marinades are:
Fajitas and Taco Meat
Whether I premarinate and store them in the freezer in resealable bags or precook them for the week and store them in airtight containers I know I can quickly whip up dinner having these on hand.
Chicken 65 Pizza and Chicken Shawarma Casserole are two dishes I have on rotate for the boys and I know are meat items that go well with salads or sandwiches if leftover.
This is a pretty simple item but makes such a difference to have on hand. Whether it may be for lunch or dinner, salads are always great to have ready so it's just a quick toss. It's also something great to put out for the kids to snack on while you're still getting the rest of dinner on the table.
My go to is usually the big Costco Sweet Kale Salad Kit. It's the perfect size to last us the week and I add extra toppings like cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions that go well with it. I don't always use the dressing provided or I dilute it with some lemon juice and have it in a separate bottle ready to drizzle as we eat. Depending on the day I'll also throw in extra fruits like Mango, apples and oranges along with extra nuts like walnuts if I have them on hand and pre-chop and store veggies I need to cook for the week as well.
A quick shake in the container with the dressing, or a pop in the oven to roast, topped with your precooked meat and you have a quick filling meal on the go!
These are my sons favorite. Anytime I pull out the blender he's always asking if I'm making a smoothie. A go to breakfast and great way to get your kids to take in nutritional foods they may not eat in solid form. On busy days I go as far as getting my dry ingredients ready in the blender and chopping up my fruits and veggies into individual bags and freeze them so it's just a quick dump and blend.
Here are my 4 top smoothie recipes approved by my boys:
Another great way to enjoy your smoothie is in a bowl. Smoothie bowls have been all the rave and kids love them too and think it's like ice cream. Here's an Acai bowl I made using frozen Acai berries, almond butter, milk, coconut and honey. Top with your choice of toppings and enjoy!
#6. Overnight Oats
Oatmeal is a great breakfast item but when you're on the go in the morning or have a million and one things on your mind, the last thing you want to do is spend half your morning in the kitchen. These overnight oats are a great breakfast item or even as a sweet treat for those with a sweet tooth.
I like keeping my pantry stocked with all types of toppings that work great in these overnight oats and the smoothies I make. Nut butters, vanilla, seeds, granolas, good fats and dry fruits are all great topping options that are not only nutritional but delicious and filling.
My main base to the overnight oats is the same. The toppings and fruit are interchangeable to create a variety and not bore you with just one kind of oat everyday.
⅓ cup Old Fashioned Oats
¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon (optional)
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
1 tbsp Nut Butter of choice
½ cup for thick or ⅔ cup milk of choice for loose consistency
½ cup Fruit (fresh or frozen berries store well)
Drizzle of maple syrup or honey, if desired
Just add your oats, cinnamon, seeds and a splash of milk and give it a mix. Now add the rest of the milk and mix until well combined. Top with fruit and toppings of choice. Store in airtight containers in the fridge, mix in the morning and enjoy. If you like other fruits like bananas or apples I recommend adding them fresh in the morning to avoid them from turning brown.
*A couple fruit combinations I enjoy:
Banana Foster: caramelized bananas and pecans
Peaches & Cream: sliced peaches with an added splash of cream and walnuts
Piña Colada: coconut milk, pineapples, coconut flakes
Tropical: coconut milk, mangoes, kiwi, coconut flakes, sliced almonds
So these are my top 6 mealprep tips that help me get through the week and make my life easier. I hope you try some of these quick tips and find them beneficial. Be sure to tag @blendofspice so I can see how you're enjoying my posts!