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Overwhelming words for many at the end of the day!  We are busier than ever, and outsourcing grocery shopping and meal preparation is quite appealing.  Home delivered meal services are popular and offer quick, tasty, and convenient meals.  Are these meals nutritious and worth the extra money?

These meal kits are a lifesaver for many busy families or those who have limited cooking experience.  The meals are delivered ready to cook, saving time at the recipe planning stage, the grocery store, chopping food items and prepping the meal.  Many meal kits are ready in 30 minutes or less and save time to spend on more fun things!

Consider meal prepping on your own.  The advantages are healthier options, cost and time saving strategies.  Getting organized is the first step in meal preparation.  Choose favorite recipes for the week.  There are three stages of meal preparing.

  1. Batch cooking.  Make large recipes on one selected day (weekend) and freeze to use later in the week.
  2. Individually portioned meals.  Prepare meals in individual portions ahead of time for a gran and go meal.
  3. Prepped ingredients.  Chop, peel. Slice or roast beforehand and use these prepare ingredients in recipes.

Meal prepping saves time and money with buying and preparing home cooked food ahead of time.  Most people shop and cook on the weekends.

Here are guidelines to start meal prepping at home:

  • Take inventory of your storage containers.  Use reusable airtight containers.
  • Select meals you want to prep for: breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Choose a shopping day.  Sunday and Wednesday are two popular days.
  • Determine how many meals  you want to prep.  Experiment with prepping for two to three days before attempting five or more.
  • Consider using a meal prep cookbook.  There are several available and check with your local library.
  • Meal preparation Apps are available to use on your smartphone.
  • Prep afternoon snacks of cut up vegetables with a yogurt dip.
  • Prep your recipes and put together in containers.  Refrigerate or freeze.  Prepared foods can remain refrigerated for 2-5 days or frozen 3-4 months depending on the ingredients.

Meal prepping does not need to be complex.  Basic steps help cut back on cooking time and increasing time for activities that matter most!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Margaret Jenkins, OSU Extension Educator, Clermont County, jenkins.188@osu.edu

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What's for DinnerIs this the cry in your home as you walk in the door after a long day at work?  Here are a few ideas to assist with having a healthy meal without spending hours in the kitchen.  And, without a lot of expense of buying prepared or take-out food.  Caution:  It does take a little pre-planning time.

  • Make a list before going to the grocery store.  This list should include all you will need to make meals for at least a week.  Some items can be used for more than one meal.  For example, you may cook chicken breasts for one meal but have enough left over to make chicken tacos or chicken casserole for a meal later in the week.  Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months.  I sometimes freeze my leftover meat or vegetables if I only have a small amount and then make soup at a later date.
  • Have nutritious snacks available before the meal.  Whole or cut-up fruits and vegetables are great before the meal and will not spoil the appetite. Keep washed, cut-up fruits or vegetables in the refrigerator for quick use.
  • Start with a salad before the main meal is ready to serve.  Doing so will add a healthy dose of vegetables to the meal, and salads can be easy to prepare.
  • Prepare the main dish the night before or use a slow cooker.  This way you can plan ahead and not be stressed at the last minute.  You can find ideas here:  http://www.choosemyplate.gov/index.html

By planning meals ahead of time you won’t be as tempted to pick up something on the way home.  You will know what is planned for dinner!  What ideas work for you?  Please share with us.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County, rini.41@osu.edu

Resource:

Ohioline, Refrigerator Storage, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5403.pdf

 

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