Posts Tagged ‘meal management’

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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meal-planning-heroDo you run out of time to make a decent family meal at the end of the day?  Too many school and social activities can get in your way?  Think about keeping your meal preparation simple. Here are few tips:

  • First, make time for dinner.  Put a chalkboard or calendar in your kitchen to keep track of your family schedule.  Then, coordinate dinner around what is happening with each family member.  Dinner doesn’t have to be the same time each day.  Just make a schedule and try hard to stick with it.
  • Involve everyone in meal planning, preparation and clean-up.  Choose a time, possibly on a Sunday evening when everyone in the family is available to discuss dinner choices as well as schedules.  Then, divide tasks so that everyone can have a job.  Age-specific jobs can be assigned for each family member.  Try to give family members jobs that they like.  A younger child can set the table, while an older sibling is making tacos or preparing food in the microwave.  Find out what works best in your family.
  • Keep essential ingredients on hand so you can avoid those last minute trips to the grocery store.  By making a list from your weekly menus, you can shop one day and be prepared for the entire week.  Don’t forget to include fresh vegetables and fruits.  They are a quick and easy to prepare healthy addition to any meal.
  • Finally, don’t forget to use leftovers, or as I call them – “planned overs.”  By cooking extra on one day or during the weekend, you can be ready for a quick, easy meal on another day. An example might be cooking a whole turkey or chicken with a family dinner on Sunday; then using the leftover meat to make stir-fry, soup, sandwiches, on a salad, or in a pasta dish.

·         Keep food safety in mind by always refrigerating any planned over in a shallow (2-3 inch container) within about 30 minutes of preparation and reheating them to over 165 degrees. Use within 3 days or freeze.

Work on making your life easier by planning your meals and including your whole family in the process.

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

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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