Learning how to meal prep doesn’t just save you money, but it also saves a ton of time, no matter how many people you are planning for. Meal prep for a large family can be easy and fun.
Keep reading for tips on how to prepare healthy meals for every day of the week.
Determine a Budget for Your Groceries
Do you want to meal prep for a month? For a week? Take a look at what you spend on groceries and consider what you need.
You don’t need to plan everything down to the last cent, but you should have a list. Using a list will help you structure your menu, stay within your budget, and learn where you may be spending money on unnecessary items.
Staples Ingredients and How Much to Buy
Ingredients and food that are versatile and can be used in a wide number of dishes are rice, dried beans and lentils, oats, potatoes, pasta, eggs, carrots, canned fish, chicken, and ground beef. These foods, especially when bought in bulk, often come to less than one dollar per serving per person.
For example, the average cost of quick-cooking oats is about $3.99 per 42 ounces. The serving size for oatmeal is half of a cup, meaning each serving costs around $0.13.
A one-pound bag of dried lentils will cost you about $1.29 and yield a little more than thirteen servings. The ending cost is $0.10 per serving.
A traditional box or bag of pasta yields about seven servings, so at an average of $1.69 for a 16-oz box, that's about $0.24 per serving.
Depending on how much you intend to rely on these ingredients, pay attention to the cost per serving. A large canister of oatmeal will give you up to 30 servings for pennies on the dollar.
Join a Wholesale Club
Wholesale clubs are large retail stores that sell groceries, home goods, and more. These stores sell items in bulk and can help you save hundreds of dollars due to their unique business structure. When you join a wholesale club like Costo, BJ's, or Sam's Club, you sign up for a membership, which costs around $45 to a little over $100 a year.
These stores also offer different membership tiers, granting exclusive discounts to those at higher membership levels. Even with a basic membership, you’ll have your pick of diverse inventories and bulk items. When you buy in bulk, the cost per serving or ounce is typically much lower.
See if there is a wholesale club in your area and ask if they offer guest or trial memberships. That way, you can try shopping there and see if you enjoy it before making a year-long commitment.
Look for Inspiration for How to Meal Prep
There’s an app for everything, including meal prepping. These apps can help you create your calendar, find recipes, stay organized, and suggest new ideas based on what you’ve cooked. Sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook have great meal prepping tips for families of all sizes. If you’re looking to eat healthier, check out these nutrition tips.
Additionally, if you have some favorite family meals, make them in bulk and freeze them. Sauces, curries, pasta dishes like lasagna, beef stew or chili, are freezer-friendly and taste great when they are reheated. However, some foods aren’t quite as well-suited for the freezer.
Ingredients in creamy sauces made with half-and-half, heavy cream, milk, cheese, and so on may separate or have a grainy mouth-feel when they are reheated. Similarly, raw ingredients like potatoes, leafy greens, nuts, and onions may lose their taste or crunch. Fried foods, cooked pasta, and fully cooked rice may become soggy if you thaw and heat them again.
Create a Menu
With a large family, you’re bound to have a few picky eaters or different dietary preferences. So in order to please everyone, creating a menu ahead of time is essential.
Start by asking your family members for some ideas or what meals they would like as grab-and-go lunches, and keep these ideas so you can make a master list that you can refer to in the future. Or, make a list of meal ideas that you think everyone in the family would enjoy and ask them to check off what they would like to eat.
Once you know the meals everyone agrees with, use a blank calendar, list, or an app to write out your ideas for the week. Make sections for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, and the days of the week you intend to serve those meals. Finalize your menu and run it past your family members a week or two before shopping and prepping those meals.
Get Some Help
If you have extra hands in the house willing to help, pick a day that you can all take off to do your meal prep for the week or the month. If you have young children, have them do some steps that don’t require using sharp knives, appliances, or the oven.
Your little ones can get involved by helping you mix ingredients by hand, peeling fruits, veggies, or hardboiled eggs, arranging containers, or putting together food for storage.
You could also hold a meal prep party. Meal prep parties are a fun way for you to get together with friends and prepare for your upcoming week at the same time. Invite your friends to bring meal prep ingredients, containers and spend an evening cooking and assembling dishes.
You could even share a menu and cook huge batches of the same meal so everyone can take home an equal share.
Get Prepared Meals Delivered
If learning how to meal prep and preparing your own healthy meals every week is not something you have time for right now, consider having pre-planned meals delivered to your door. At AthleticsFit, we offer multiple types of fresh, healthy, chef-prepared meals delivered straight to you. In addition, our menus use locally sourced ingredients and change weekly, so we always offer a variety of great food.
Take a look at our menus to see the packages we offer!