Back To School Quick Meal Planning Tips

meal prepNext week is officially the start of back to school for us teachers and coaches.  My daughter will be starting cross country as well so that means I will be her chauffeur to practices a few times a day.  Usually the beginning of the school year is nuts and I am running around like a crazy woman and can barely get dinner on the table.  Not this year!  I recently went to a sports nutrition symposium and got to hear some tips from an awesome co-worker Hilary Horton Brown RD.  She is the Director of Sports Nutrition for BSU and is also an amazing fitness instructor too!  She had some great ideas for quick meal planning that I am going to do this weekend and try to keep up during the school year!  First I have to hit the grocery store!  I thought I would share her tips with you and maybe inspire you to start meal planning as well.  

The main goal of meal planning is to prepare many meals and snacks all at once to have ready for the week or longer!  This will not only save you time and money but also avoid impulsive eating and calling for pizza delivery on those rushed nights.  Try to add as many veggies as you can into your meals to increase your fiber intake and boost antioxidants.  

Here is what I plan to do this weekend to kick off my back to school meal planning: 

  1. Cook 3-5 pounds of lean ground beef.  Season your meat as you would like and freeze if you don’t plan on using it within a few days.  
  • Add in some taco seasoning, a can of rinsed black beans, and veggies.  You can use this for burrito bowls, tacos, or taco salads.  
  • Use italian seasoning mix and make spaghetti.  Add some finely chopped zucchini or carrots to up the veggie intake.
  • Make sloppy joes.  Keep sandwich thins or whole grain buns in the freezer.  My favorite sloppy joes recipe is http://www.skinnytaste.com/skinny-sloppy-joes/
  1.  Bake a bag of chicken breasts or a whole chicken in the oven.   
  • Dice up portions of the chicken and freeze in freezer bags with a bit of chicken broth to add moisture.  Pull it out of the freezer and mix with veggies for a quick and easy stir fry or fajitas.
  • Marinate slices in your favorite dressing or sauce and freeze in the sauce.  Pull them out add a veggie and a sweet potato and you have a quick and easy meal.  My favorite dressing is a ginger sesame!  
  • Slices can be frozen plain and pulled out for easy lunches like salads, quesadillas or wraps.  Endless possibilities!  
  1.  Make a large pot of whole grain pasta or rice and use it throughout the week.  
  2.  Prepare your veggies for the week.
  • Clean, peel, and cut up veggies for the week for salads, stir frys or snacks.
  • Stock up on frozen veggies to add to soups or stews.
  • Make a large salad or mason jar salads for lunches or dinners for the week.  
  1.  Bulk cook your favorite meals
  • Make bulk batches of your family’s favorite meals like enchiladas, chili, lasagna or other faves and double or triple the recipe to freeze for later use.  
  1.  Break out the crock pot!  Or try an insta-pot.  My friend Ashley just got one of these and is raving about it!  I gotta get one!  
  • Layer chicken breasts in the crock pot with salsa or teriyaki sauce cook on low for 5-6 hours and when you get home shred and add to your veggies, pasta or rice.  
  • Cook an inexpensive roast with a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce or season with a chipotle seasoning blend and cook on low all day.  When you get home shred it and use it with your favorite sides.  I love to make this into street tacos! Save the rest for a later meal.  
  1.  Prepare your snacks.  
  • Portion out veggies and dip into container for the week.
  • Make some energy balls for the week.  Try my no-bake energy ball recipe
  • Make some chia puddings
  • Make individual bags of trail mix with dried fruit, dark chocolate, nuts and pretzels.  

I hope this helped you to get started with meal planning.  There are so many awesome recipes out there on the web for crock pot recipes and meal prep.  I encourage you all to give this a try especially for you busy moms out there who tend to feel like me at the start of the school year!  I am hoping to get some pictures of my meal prepping (it may be scary) and share with you the outcome next week.  Have a great weekend!