preparing meals

Preparing Meals Ahead of Time Can Reduce Stress & Increase Quality Family Time

By Eryka T. Johnson

Do you ever feel stressed when it comes to preparing meals on a daily basis? You get home from work in the evening after working 8 long hours and you find yourself walking into an environment where the entire family is dying of hunger. No, not literally but you have not put your purse down yet and the kids are already asking what’s for dinner. Instead of rushing back out the door to grab a combo from McDonald’s, let me share how preparing meals ahead of time can reduce stress and increase quality family time.  

I was notorious for not thinking ahead of time when it came to preparing meals for my family. Yes, I would cook for my husband and my young kids but I failed to realize the benefit of preparing a few meals ahead of time for the week.

My oldest son was the absolute worst when it came to playing on the fact that I was typically pressed for time to come up with a meal and get it on the table within 30 minutes of getting home. So, as we travelled home in the evening, he would literally try to convince me that I was tired and didn’t want to cook. And of course, it would lead right into “Mom, go ahead and stop at McDonald’s or Piccadilly and get something for us to eat.”

He was always so convincing! Truthfully, I would give in to that more times than not until I finally realized how much money was being wasted on fast food.

Now that I’m wiser, I have managed to develop a system that works well for me when it comes to planning and preparing meals ahead of time for my family. I love that I have moved to this system because it allows me to have some free time in the evening to spend with my husband and kids & enjoy every moment.

Let me share how you can plan your weekly meals…

Use the local grocery store ads to figure out what’s on sale. This will allow you to get the best deal on meats and other items needed in the meals. If you are into getting the best bang for your buck, you may want to do price matching as well. But, I know this is a totally different subject so let’s just stick with first figuring out what the sales are for now.   

Determine what items you can put together to create a meal. It’s amazing how I can find lean ground beef on sale along with pasta, tomato, and grated cheese. Instantly, my thought would be to cook a spaghetti meal or even some type of meatball casserole. I usually find beef, pork, and poultry on sale in any given week.

Re-purpose your main ingredient. There are times that I purchase chicken breasts and cook it all at once. Then, I take the chicken breast and use it for chicken fajitas, barbeque chicken subs, chicken salad, and even chicken pasta. When you develop your meal plan, look for ways to re-purpose your main ingredient for different dishes.

Cook with a slow cooker or crockpot. My favorite way of cooking now is with crock pots. I typically mix my ingredients together in the crockpot and forget about it. Based on what you are cooking, you will need to choose the appropriate cook time to prevent over-cooking.

Store your food in the refrigerator or freezer. I typically store food in the refrigerator because I let my family tell me what they would like to eat each day. But, if you plan for everyone to eat the same dish each day, you can certainly freeze the other meals until you are ready to eat them.

This is the quick version of the meal planning system I use that allows me to not carry the daily pressure of running home from work to prepare meals. Instead, I can relax a bit and enjoy my family.

Do you stress out about meals every day? Let me hear from you.

Eryka T. Johnson