Bulk Cooking For Your Family: Tips & Tricks from a Busy Mom
One of the top excuses for lack of motivation around eating healthy is time. Reading that, I’m sure your to-do list comes rushing back to your mind. And while those reasons are valid, the truth is our time is spent however we want it to be! While tracking macros and reaching your goals is a top priority, you still have to make dinner for the family.
As a nutritionist and coach, I also have the “Mom, what’s for dinner?” challenge. The more organized and prepared I am, the more consistent I’ll be in providing a nutritious meal for my family while also achieving my goals.
I’m going to share with you my top busy-baby-wearing-mom strategy for meal prep that will help you stay on track! Planning will allow you to feel good about setting the table for the people you care about the most.
This bulk prep requires about three hours on Sunday to prepare four meals. I plan for this every week and can be flexible if I need to shift days or times. Most of my week is prepped and ready to go by Sunday night, but I also plan for a Thursday “mini-prep” to make it through my weekend. Planning and pre-logging my meals are truly the only way I hit my macros and feel good about the food I’m feeding my family.
Plan your meals: 15-20 minutes
This involves sitting down with a notebook and piece of paper (or my fancy meal planning notepad) and outlining my meals. I usually spend 20 minutes doing this, and it’s my favorite 20 minutes! I have a few go-to sources, starting with anything I’ve seen on Instagram that I might have saved.
I break up my meals into different cooking methods to save me time in the kitchen! This allows me to spread out my resources, so I’m not waiting for the oven to be done to put something else in. Time saved in the kitchen from multi-tasking is huge!
Instant pot/slow cooker recipe
Grocery list: 5-10 minutes
Since I do weekly bulk cooking, I know what I have on hand in the pantry or freezer. Building my grocery list each week takes 5-10 minutes. I always start with the recipes I’ve picked and move to other staples or snacks to fill in the week.
Grocery shop: 30-45 minutes
I am all for leaning into Instacart or other delivery or pickup services if that’s something that will save me time. Some weeks I’ll gladly wander the isles of the grocery store; other weeks, I take the convenient option and order my groceries ahead of time, so someone else does my shopping!
Prep your ingredients: 30 minutes
Once I’m home from the grocery store, I take out my produce, wash it, and prep it. This includes all the dicing, slicing, and chopping! Here is also a great time to prep a few extra snacks like carrot sticks and bell pepper slices that I can quickly grab out of the fridge throughout the week. Setting up for my prep takes 20-30 minutes.
Bulk cooking: 2 hours
Here’s where the magic happens - I have all my ingredients ready, and I dive into whatever recipe takes the longest. My order usually looks like this:
Prep and start the oven recipe
Prep and start the instant pot or slow cooker recipe
Prep and start the stovetop/skillet recipe
Prep and start the air fryer recipe
Bulk cooking four recipes usually take around two hours. Once all my meals are cooked, I can organize and portion out my servings so they are ready for the week. I also like to spend a few extra minutes logging my food, so I don’t have to worry about it during the day. Doing so allows me to spend that time being present with my family during the week!
My most important takeaway for ensuring I can set our week up for success is being realistic about how much time I truly have to spend in the kitchen. There is always room to simplify. Check out our WAG’s Ultimate Meal Prep Guide for more component cooking and easy prep tips!
Maria is a CrossFit and WAG nutrition coach who loves inspiring people to be creative in the kitchen. Maria has a master's degree in Nutrition and Functional Medicine and lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two girls.
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