Going back to school and getting into your work routine after a long summer is sometimes hard. One of the biggest issues is having enough time to make healthy meals. It’s only been a few weeks and already the hustle and bustle is starting to wear us thin! It’s time to get creative for meal prepping. From packing lunches for kids to midweek meals, there just never seems to be enough time. When you’re short on time it is easy to go and grab the quickest easiest meal, which can be unhealthy and end up costing more in the long term. There is also the environmental impact that should be taken into consideration when meal prepping and packing lunches. It can seem impossible to avoid the plastic sandwich bags and foil juice pouches!
If you’re like us, you’ve saved a good portion of your produce from your summer harvests. You’ve frozen tomato sauce, blanched, chopped and frozen beans, dried herbs, and all around got creative when it came to preserving the harvest. All the veggies you froze over the summer can now be added to meals that you can make ahead of time and freeze until you are ready to cook.
A great tip that helps make lunches easier for the week is to double meal sizes. For example, if you are making homemade pizza, double what you are making and either freeze the extra for popping in the oven on a busy week night, or cook the extra and enjoy it for lunch throughout the week. This also works well for casseroles since they freeze well, but another favorite to double is to double meat. You can add left over taco meat to a salad for added protein, take chicken to make chicken salad or add chicken to a rice or pasta side dish to re-purpose it as a main course for lunch. Soups are also easy to freeze for later dipping and sipping or packing for lunch.
Our favorite is to meal prep (chicken teriyaki, chili, potato and ham chowder, pot pie filling, etc.) and package it up with the seal-a-meal (the bags can be reused if cut and used correctly). Pop that in the freezer and when you’re ready to eat, just pull whichever package from the freezer, fill up the crock-pot with water and (gently) toss the sealed bag in the water. Set a timer and walk away. 8 hours later, you’ll have a hot home cooked meal with absolutely zero mess to clean up. Just make sure the bags you are using are heat and food safe. We can’t stress that enough!
Being sustainable when you are able to not only helps our environment, but also saves your wallet. Instead of buying plastic baggies, try wrapping sandwiches in wax paper, or making your own reusable bags with food safe fabrics and liners. Don’t buy juice pouches that only last a week for school lunches. Make a pitcher of juice and fill reusable water bottles. Remember all those apples you harvested and turned into apple sauce? Now’s the time to portion those out in reusable Tupperware and send to school with your kiddo.
Have fun and healthy meal ideas of your own? Please share with us! We’ve all had recipe block after a long week of school, soccer practice, work, and life.