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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

meal prep

I know everyone has heard of meal prepping and how great it is and how it helps you to stay on track with healthy eating for the week and all of that is true {at least for me} and great. But here's the thing...it's not just for adults! 

Say whaaaaat?????

I recently started meal prepping for the kids and I seriously cannot tell you how great it is. 
Well actually I can...and here it is ;)

Why I Love Meal Prepping
  1. They now make their own lunches everyday with little help and they eat all their food because they packed it.
  2. Snacks are easy to grab and organized so they already know what they can have instead of asking me.
  3. They are choosing healthier food options because of how easy and available they are.
Yes it does take extra time for me. It's not really fast to prepare but it is fairly easy. All you need to do is give yourself a few hours out of a day to get it ready. I find meal prepping right after I grocery shop the easiest. As I unpack the groceries, I set aside what I am going to be using and then once everything is unpacked I get to work. I also usually choose Sundays {because Cam is home to help keep the kids occupied} or Monday {because Amelia is usually worn out from the weekend and will gladly sit down and watch a movie} to get it done. I have found most success with Mondays but when I know my Monday is going to be busy I adjust to Sunday.

First thing I start with is fruits and veggies. I stock up at the store on the kids favs and I rotate every week so they aren't eating the same thing over and over. My kids love fruit and will pretty much eat anything! Veggies...well that's another story. I offer carrots, raw broccoli, green beans {I just buy canned, heat them up and separate in plastic containers for the week} or spinach leaves because these give me the least amount of complaining ;) I also wash all the fruit after I buy it and cut the tops of strawberries and have in an open container so they are easy to grab, wash grapes and pull them off the stem and also keep them in an open container and the same with blackberries. This way if they don't want oranges or plums because that's what they had at school, there are other easy and fast options right there in front of them!

This week I chose plums, oranges and carrots. 
I peel the oranges for the kids so it's easy and appealing to them.

Then I load them up in the cute plastic fridge organizer I picked up at TJMaxx. 

I love these packets for our whole family. I buy Cam and I little hummus cups from Costco and grabbing a bag of veggies and the hummus is a great on the go snack for us.

I have 4 different bins {all from TJMaxx for $6 each}.
the 4th bin wasn't finished being prepared when I took the pic

We have the fruit and veggie bin {above}, the yogurt bin

and then the random snacks bin. I keep string cheese, snack packets of olives, the hummus cups and then yogurt drinks in it. 

Lastly is the cooked foods bin. This week I made mac and cheese {we prefer Annie's}.

Again, this takes a little prep work but it's so worth it! Just yesterday the kids came home, grabbed one and popped it in the microwave for an after school snack. It's so much better then grabbing chips or cookies. They had mac and cheese and fruit and were satisfied until dinner.

For their lunch prep they choose 2 things from the fruit and veggie bin, then something else from another bin if they want, 1 thing from the pantry {usually crackers or cookies or something along those lines} and then a protein. My kids are not sandwich eaters at all so this part takes more time and I usually take care of it myself. Things they like are buttered noodles, Campbell's chicken noodle soup, fish {I buy the already cooked frozen portions and just heat them up in the morning}, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, spaghetti {I will make a big batch at the beginning of the week if this is an option for that week}, quesadillas and mini frozen pizzas {we use the Kidfresh brand because it has hidden veggies in it}. I know cooking food in the morning might seem nuts for some, but when everything else is ready and the kids are packing their own lunch, popping a corn dog in the toaster oven or heating up noodles on the stove really isn't that big of a deal. Promise!

The key is finding what your family likes. I put mostly the things my kids love in these bins but I also add other things that they might not normally choose to encourage them to try new things. Like with the veggies...they normally wouldn't eat any veggies, but I have found if they are there and if I encourage them to take a veggie every other day in their lunch they will. And the best part...they actually eat it. Other ideas for snacks are hard boiled eggs, Campbell's chicken noodle soup, any fruit, any veggie, applesauce, individual peanut butter cups with apples, homemade zucchini bread, yogurt and granola cups...you can seriously use anything. Plus Pinterest is always good for ideas like this :)

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