Want to see what my morning meal prep looks like?
I’ve always been a planner-aheader. This has been mostly good for me except that God has had to teach me to also live in the moment and not always be working on or thinking about whatever needs to be done next. :)
As I’ve learned to chill out and to let go of what can’t get done (and know that what needs to get done will and what doesn’t won’t) – I’ve truly been grateful that being efficient in the kitchen is a strength God gave me. I have found that I have to be very organized and that I have to keep everything as simple as possible so that I can get everyone fed (and clothed, but you don’t want to see what our laundry looks like).
Here’s our current kid breakdown:
- Asa, 25, married and living in Lincoln
- Justus, 22, getting married in July!
- Elias, 20, a college senior living at home and working this summer
- Malachi, 17, a high school senior with a growing video production business
- Brayden, 8, a 3rd grader
- Bonus Girl, 6, a 1st grader
- Keith, 3, a preschooler
- Bonus Bonus Girl, 2, fit thrower, little mommy, and snuggler
- Bonus Bonus Bonus Girl, 1, mess maker, giggle box, and book reader
- Bonus Bonus Bonus Bonus Girl, 1, observer, stair climber, and toothy grinner
Well, all that to say: Whenever possible, I spend five minutes or thirty minutes or an hour in the mornings getting food ready for the day in whatever form I can. I do this:
- After my morning coffee time with my Bible, prayer, and journal
- If possible, before all the kids are out of bed, or at least when most of them are eating breakfast or happily playing
- Before Matt leaves for work
- And/or after my friend Pam arrives to help (she comes every weekday morning for two hours, and she’s a huge reason I am still alive, bless her dear heart)
Morning Meal Prep
Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what I might do during my morning meal prep time. Often it’s as simple as using the five minutes I have to unload and reload the dishwasher. Sometimes it involves cutting fruit or doing a quick clean-out of the fridge. Whatever it is, I find that if I have a minute to get something done, I need to take advantage of it!
One morning the three baby girls slept in until 8, which was amazing and unusual and I took advantage of it! I cut a watermelon and put it in the fridge for side dishes. I sliced kiwi for breakfast to have ready for all 6 littles. And I used up the avocados to make Guacomole to go with that night’s dinner.
Then, I put chicken thighs in a bag with dressing to marinade so that we could put it on our smoker that night for dinner.
Another morning I made a double batch of Peanut Butter Honey Rice Krispie Treats, which we enjoyed for breakfast the next two days. I also made a blender full of this smoothie so that Matt and I could just pour and drink as needed at lunchtime.
See the frost-covered ham in the above picture? Someone had given us that and I really needed to use it up! So I set it out to thaw so I could quickly slice and fry it for lunch later. Then I mixed up a crock pot full of Party Potatoes to cook while we were taking a walk and playing all morning.
I don’t usually make “big lunches” like ham and cheesy potatoes. But that day it just made sense and it wasn’t difficult, so I went with it. We were out taking a long walk all morning and got back just in time to be starving, so I was so glad to have this ready to go when we walked in!
We didn’t eat the entire hunk of ham, so while everyone was finishing lunch, I diced what was left and put it in the fridge for our next baked potato meal.
As it turns out, our baked potato meal was the next day.
Keith (3) was so eager to scrub potatoes, so I got a chair and put him to work the next morning. He was so proud!!
I let the potatoes sit, then turned the crockpot on high at lunchtime. They were cooked and ready for our baked potato dinner by 5:15!
I took advantage of a cooler morning and make some muffins and bread so we’d have easy breakfasts and snacks. With so many littles, having these bread items on hand is always very helpful!
I made a triple batch of Pumpkin Muffins (this recipe but without chocolate chips).
Then since I had a few more minutes and the ovens were already hot, I used our ripe bananas to make Banana Bread. See the loaf on the left? That was the pumpkin muffin batter that I had left after filling all my muffin pans!
One morning, we planned on walking and playing at a park all morning, so I planned ahead to have lunch ready to make right when we got home. I am so glad I did, as you’ll see a few pictures below. :)
I cracked a bunch of eggs into a bowl so we could quickly scramble them to go with pancakes at lunchtime.
I set out the pancake mix (a splurge from Sam’s, and it’s really good!), put the prepped eggs in the fridge, and put the skillets on the stove.
Well. It is a very good thing I had everything ready to cook when we got home from playing at the park. The kids were all beyond hungry (as was this mom) and the three baby girls completely melted down screaming at my feet while I scrambled eggs and flipped cakes. Poor dears.
Don’t believe one bit of sweetness you see in this picture. (I mean, they are super, super sweet. But in this picture they were also 100% unhappy.) Blondie Girl was throwing out lids as fast as she could and screaming with every throw. Brunette Girl, well, you can see her whole body was involved in the meltdown. And Baby Girl, oh she was banging that lid with all her might. Elias came home for his lunch break right then, shook his head with a grin, and grabbed the nearest screamer, bless him. We got lunch on the table quickly and then put everyone down for much-needed naps. Oy.
And that, my friends, is why I have to prep ahead in the mornings if at all possible. If I don’t, we still find something to eat, even if it’s stale cereal and mushy apples. Sometimes it’s cheese sticks and slices of turkey lunchmeat. Canned fruit is a lifesaver, so I buy it by the case.
But prepping anything I possibly can in the mornings makes our days a bit less stressful, so I do what I can when I can! :)