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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Meal Masters: Learning how to Meal Prep like a Pro

This lovely woman, Linda willingly created a space for 10 women to gather at our church to learn all about meal prepping. Why her? Well, she has been meal prepping for years. Maybe even decades. She started when her kiddos were little and she shared about being the mom who took the slow cooker to the soccer field instead of picking up fast food. If I wasn't already interested, she had me there! She shared all of her tips and tricks with us and then we actually had the opportunity to make a few meals ourselves. I was most amazed by the fact that she makes all of her dinners for an entire month in one afternoon! This full-time working mama wants that reality in her own life! Bring on the learning. And cooking. 

I was pretty busy cooking and taking photos so there might be tips I don't remember. However, these are the main points that stuck with me.

Tip 1: Shop sales & with a list
I think most people meal prep to save time and to save money. Shop sales before planning your meals ensures you're getting the best bang for your buck! She said to really learn your meat prices because you can save a whole lot there.

Tip 2: Double recipes & make sure they're freezer-friendly
This is pretty obvious, I think. She kept telling us that it only takes a minute to chop more of an ingredient to double or triple a recipe so you might as well make it happen. #worksmarternotharder Picking freezer-friendly meals is sure fire way of keeping meals fresh to use weeks or even months later.

Tip 3: Storage and labeling matter
She said to skip the generic bags and buy name brand to keep leaky defrosts to a minimum. Knowing myself, I think trial and error is a good plan. Linda also said that bypassing the fancy labels for masking tape is a must. It's cheap and gives you enough space to write a lot of information.

Tip 4: Try the meals first
I've made the mistake of doubling a recipe that didn't turn out too well, so when she mentioned this I was like, "Sister! I totally get you." It is quite discouraging to meal prep for hours just to throw food away.

Tip 5: Keep a freezer inventory
I don't know about you, but things get lost in my freezer. I could make a gazillion meals and think I will remember all of them, but that's just not true. Linda suggests keeping an ongoing list of what you have, which makes using all of those wonderful meals possible.

Tip 6: Defrosting can be tricky
Basically, when you take something out to defrost in the fridge, put it on or in some type of dish that will catch any leakage. I don't want to spend an evening cleaning my fridge any more than I want to spend it cooking dinner.
This wasn't my first exposure to doubling recipes or meal prep, but it was really wonderful learning from a woman who has lived this lifestyle out for years and years. It brought a little more validity to it for me than scrolling through Pinterest does. Don't get me wrong, my Pinterest is exploding with ideas on the subject, but face-to-face human interaction just can't be replaced. Plus, I can relate to her experience as a fulltime working mom and wife. It was such an encouraging experience!

We made a vegetable chicken soup and chicken enchiladas. Everyone took them home ready for the freezer but ours never made it there. I made both meals for our little family plus some other family and friends. Everyone raved.

I currently have 3 bags of the soup in my freezer, 1 tray of enchiladas, and 3 trays of enchilada quinoa bake. The week goes a bit smoother when cooking dinner only requires pulling something from the freezer and heating it through. I'm toying with the idea of making 4 containers of the same 5 meals every month. It's kind of like a capsule wardrobe for your kitchen.

What do you think? What are your favorite recipes to make ahead and freeze? How do you feel about capsule cooking?

Happy meal prepping!

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7 comments :

  1. These are awesome tips! Before Z was born we did a ton of meal prep-we learned a lot and now quarterly restock our freezer with easy meals for company or as a gift to a family with a new baby. Our go to's are: beef or chicken enchiladas, burritos, lasagna, and beefy spaghetti sauce. Whenever I make a soup in a crock pot I freeze half of it. I also cook and shred a ton of chicken or beef and freeze it in smaller bags-ready for tacos or salads. Having a magnetic whiteboard of what is in our freezer has also been a lifesaver.

    -Amanda

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    1. Amanda, I love the fact that freezer meals can just be dropped off to a family in need and that your heart is set to that dial. Do you keep your whiteboard on your fridge? What does it look like? I'd love to see it in action. Also, how do you make your spaghetti sauce? I've tried multiple times, the first time being in our first real apartment, and I have to say things have not improved on my end. XOXO Lindsey

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  2. I am so bad at this and I really think it would help me a lot to prep. I never realized how many meals could be frozen!

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    1. Becky, I think meal prep looks different depending on where you are in your life, but it is so helpful for budgets, healthy, anxiety, etc. Whatever your looking to improve in your life I think it can help. It's like a magical tool. Haha. If you're ever looking for ideas, I'd be happy to share anything I've learned. Thanks for reading! XOXO Lindsey

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  3. I hope Linda does another one! This is a skill I do NOT have but need desperately! Working FT and momming is hard! Next time we get together you’ll have to share these recipes with me!

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    1. Alex, it is SO hard! Josh just told me that me meal prepping is like him budgeting. I love it and feel inspired when I do it. I'd love to talk about it! We could even put our own night together to make meals if Linda doesn't do another one. Love you! Lindsey

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