3 Healthy and Easy Meal Prep Steps for Busy Families

Jul 16, 2018

Between checking all the boxes in the food pyramid and getting home-made meals ready in time for lunch and dinner, how do you efficiently prepare meals for your family? We have your answer in three words: sheet-pan dinners. If you have yet to perfect this easy-to-cook, quick-to-clean food hack, now’s the time! For our first-timers, we’ll even walk you through the steps of a preparing these meals for your family in a timely manner without compromising quality or flavor.

1. Start Meal Prepping on Sunday Evening
Start your week off strong! Taking a moment to prepare meals on Sunday gives you time to sit back and relax during the rest of the week. During the weekend, take note of all the ingredients needed for at least four sheet-pan dinners. This should cover meals from Monday night to Friday afternoon—a good time range before fresh ingredients lose their quality. While putting it all together, we suggest overestimating to make sure you have extra servings to store as leftovers.

For those who haven’t made a sheet-pan dinner before, it’s as easy as a, b, c! You’ll just need three core ingredients for each meal: protein, vegetables, and sauces or herbs. You can order family dinner plans that include all of the above or research popular sheet-pan recipes that you can bag up in ziplock bags. When you’re ready to get cooking, all you need to do is…

  • Preheat your oven within an hour of dinner time.
  • Lay your ingredients out on a sheet pan.
  • Bake your meal and serve when ready!

2. Seasoned to Each Family Member’s Tastes
With multiple family members comes multiple preferences, including chef’s personal taste. Looking to find a way to please everyone at the table? The secret is adjusting each plate to fit your and your family’s needs with spices!

Note: Keep step 3, which focuses on tomorrow’s lunch, in mind while you’re seasoning everything.

  • Add Spices Before You Bake
    You have two options: you can use two small baking pans or one large pan. With two pans, simply split your ingredients in half and lay them out evenly on each sheet. If you’re using a single pan, you can section off your meals using foil. Lay out two to three pieces of foil, depending on your family’s size. Fold the edges of the foil up to create makeshift trays. Lay out the contents of your meal evenly in the four sections.

    Whichever method you choose, you’ll be able to season your meal according to each family member’s taste! Unsure where to start with spices? Try pre-mixed seasonings that will add distinct flavors to any type of meal.

  • Sprinkling Spices After You Bake
    You can also individualize meals after the cooking is done. Lay your plates out and pull your sheet pan out of the oven. Transfer your meal onto the plates, add spices and garnishes as necessary, and mix contents as needed. Your meal is ready to be served!

3. Leftovers for Lunch

Remember when we encouraged overestimating the number of ingredients needed during your Sunday night meal prep? To knock down two birds with one stone, tonight’s dinner can double as tomorrow’s lunch.

Like we mentioned in step 2, keep the packed lunches in mind while adding spices to your entrees. Your family members will absolutely appreciate that their lunches are just as thoughtfully prepared as their dinners were the night before!

  • Add spices as necessary or pack each person’s favorite seasoning in their lunch bag.
  • Label each with the family member’s name.
  • Leave a note on the fridge to make sure no one forgets their lunch on their way out!

Voila! You have fresh dinners and packed lunches ready for Monday night through Friday afternoon. Give it a try and let us know how it goes! We’d love to hear if you have additional tips on how to get family meals ready for the week on our Facebook page or tag us (#EatCleanMealPrep @EatCleanSanDiego) on Instagram.

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