Meal Prep guide for the family– how to start and finding your WHY.

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” ~Ann Wigmore~

non-sandwich meals for kiddos!
non-sandwich meals for kiddos!
As a mom, I want my kids to fit into ‘society norms’.  These ‘norms’ now exclude eating.  Instead I am teaching my family ways to navigate modern society and avoid food traps that will set them up for health issues and feeling crappy later on.  For example, I use to let my oldest kid buy lunch from school everyday.   The school sent home a beautifully illustrated quad chart, that described what students would eat every meal.  This quad chart looked adequate, plus having him buy food would save me time each week. Ideally, I wanted my child to eat protein, veggies, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates at lunch.

In reality, when I asked him what he ate each day, it was alarming. The quad chart presented, clearly held different definitions on food groups.

Walk with me for a minute…..imagine a six year old presented with the freedom of choice, where ketchup counted as a vegetable, and friends all buying the same yummy foods…. of course he would pick the pizza, chocolate milk, 2 fruit cups, and tater tots (ketchup being the vegetable) as his meal (this was standard).

The facts of the situation are: he is a child full of energy being told to sit most of the day; now fully amped with tons of sugar.

Lets break it down:
8 oz chocolate milk: 32 grams of sugar
2 Fruit cups: 16 grams (each) of sugar
tater tots: 1 gram of sugar BUT 20 grams of simple carbs
cheese pizza: 2 grams of sugar BUT 21 grams of simple carbs
2 tbsp ketchup: 8 grams of sugar

Sugar total for 1 meal:
112 grams of simple carbs–aka sugar–equals about 19 teaspoons!

“The actual limit of sugar for children is 3 to 4 teaspoons during the preschool and early elementary years, and between 5 and 8 teaspoons during the tween and teen years.” Source.

*note*  Although white potatoes are technically a complex carbohydrate, not all complex carbohydrates act the way you expect them to. White potatoes, act more like simple sugars, breaking down quickly into glucose and causing a sharp insulin response.

So What.
Why should I care?  I mean everybody eats this way, isn’t it okay? No its not okay.  It actually is a far cry from okay.  Never has a nation been so obese, but starving for nutritious foods.

The science.
Sugar causes a spike in insulin.  When your body has a spike in insulin, it raises inflammation.  The inflammation is the primary cause behind chronic disease, pain, and more. (For more information on the impact insulin spikes and your health please look at this article.)

How to set your family up  for success.
Meal Prep for not only yourself, but everyone!

Personally, I meal prep for: my oldest kid,  4 year old twins, the hubs, and myself each week. It sounds like a lot, and no I’m not going to sugar coat it, it is a time killer!  BUT when you read the above facts, it makes every ounce of sacrifice worth the effort.

Tip: Establish your battle rhythm.

Step 1) Plan 2 days prior to meal prepping.

Menu I write out for the family, plus the containers
Menu I write out for the family, plus I label each container with ‘name, meal, & date’
I like to write out the main meal items AND snacks, that way there is no room for guessing or grabbing the wrong meal.

Step 2) Food shop–Preferably not on the same day as meal prepping, it helps break up the routine.
–For example, I make food menu & shopping list on Friday, food shop Saturday morning, and Meal prep Sunday afternoon (cooking enough food for Monday-Friday OR if short on time Monday-Wednesdays with double doses for leftovers, Thursday & Friday).

Step 3) Pick a designated meal prep day and make that non-negotiable!

Think of this as an appointment you make with yourself; no-rescheduling allowed!   Do not look at this as a chore, think of this as a choiceYou are choosing to use your time to fuel yourself and control your health!

This way of thinking is powerful! Essentially, when you free yourself from thinking of cooking as a chore (apply same mantra to exercise/moving more), but rather as a tool to nourish yourself….This process, really helps keep things in perspective and becomes the ‘WHY’ you depend on when motivation is low.

Step 4) Meal Prep (around 4 hours).

Brew a strong pot of coffee, throw on Netflix/favorite tunes/or Sunday Football, and get prepping!

My personal battle rhythm.,

I always start Sunday with double the serving size of breakfast. That way, I have already knocked out one meal for later in the week.  I also throw in a slow cooker meal for that day’s dinner.  I make double the serving and either use it as another meal for that week or freeze the leftovers for the following week.

Next, we make it a family affair. Husband fires up the grill (or I do if on single parent ops) & he handles dishes, I cook all sides, pack up everything, and clean counters & floors, the kids either play outside or clean the house (if misbehaving).

I then layout the list of meals, tupperware, tape, permeant marker, and veggies I plan on cooking.

produce I plan on cooking for the week
produce I plan on cooking for the week
Not sure why, but I believe it is because I love crossing off items on a to-do list! I absolutely love watching the progression of meal prep day and the pile of Tupperware’s get smaller as the process winds down. I know, I am a nerd…but its all about the small joys in life!

Step 5) Clean up the mess.

Yes you are tired, and yes you deserve a break….but trust you, me.  A dirty kitchen starting off the week will put you in a sour mood!  Put in the extra 30 minutes (if that) and clean.  That way you have a fresh kitchen to get your Monday started hassle free!

Step 6) Enjoy No cooking, minimal clean up, and food for the rest of the week!

**Next post in Meal Prep guide- for the family Series**
Kids Lunch Meal Prep Ideas (no sandwiches & all gluten-free)
Snack Meal Prep Ideas (gluten-free)

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