Meal Prep is Real Prep

So pretty much two months in back at work and the thing I’m finding toughest is ensuring we’re all eating healthy meals still. I’m slightly obsessive on the subject since the realisation that there is a history of bowel cancer on both my maternal and paternal side. Coupled with the fact I took not getting on with breast feeding pretty hard and now feel like I have to make up for it, I can’t stop thinking about what everyone will eat next! Oh and I should probably try and shift that last bit of baby weight huh??

No processed foods, organic where possible, no sugar, no salt, good fats, no weird chemicals, all whole foods. The list goes on. The new challenge of course is managing all this when you don’t get home till 6pm and have a 10 month old who needs to eat almost instantaneously after that time in order to be bathed, bottled, booked and bedded (?!) by 7.30pm… With all this in mind I thought I’d share a few ideas I’ve come up with so far.

Easy cheat bits I can’t see the harm in using from time to time; 

Cook do an amazing range of kids meals, all sorts of things and Eadie seems to go wild for them. There’s no nasties and can be thrown in the microwave at a moments notice. As she’s still so little (well, I mean she’s never been that little..) the portions are still a wee bit big. No worries though Mummy and Daddy are always keen for a taste! I think the whole range is £2.75 per meal. A little expensive but occasionally worth it for massive convenience. They’re often on offer so we tend to buy a few and keep in stock!

The humble fish finger. In a ideal world we quite like making these from scratch but in a realistic world these are a life saver with a few peas and sweet potato mash! I try to get the wholegrain one as the orange freaks me out a little. I’m pretty sure it’s just paprika though! Mum and Dad can enjoy the delights of a fish finger sandwich here!

Anything on toast! Beans, cheese, egg, avocado (she’s still not totally sold on this!), peanut butter. Easy for all and tasty!

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Homemade faves to make ahead and freeze;

We love a batch cook in this house! So we tend to make a big whatever the have a dinner from that (usually over the weekend) freeze a portion for us and a little one for Eadie in case for some reason she ends up eating earlier than us. So here’s the ones that work well;

Spaghetti Bolognese (with mince or lentils)

Chilli Con Carne (again with mince or lentils)

Macaroni Cheese (we like to add a bit of butternut squash to this for extra veg)

Vegetable Casserole (add meat later if desired)

Sweet Potato, Sage and Cheddar Burgers (amazing will share recipe sometime)

Cottage Pie (topped with mix of sweet and white potato and again mince or lentil)

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Homemade baked beans, chicken nuggets and fish fingers

The last goes on but these are the regulars. And this is also easy on the old pocket (massive win when you’re on statutory maternity pay!). We try and get as much veg into all of these as possible so celery and carrot etc snuck in where possible and then serve them with some fresh veg either salad or seasonal greens.

Speedy fresh meals;

These are a bit basic but seem to please everyone and tend to be more of a lunch time vibe;

Quick tomato sauce made with load of cherry tomatoes and garlic (will share recipe if people are keen) served with spiralized courgette (obviously not at the moment that stuff’s like frickin’ gold dust), Pastrella veggie pasta (see photo below, only ever found this in Waitrose but it’s great and cooks in one minute!), fresh Deli Ugo gnocchi (they do spinach and pumpkin) and straight up dried pasta (Eadie seems to get on best with little macaroni pasta at the moment).

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Pesto. Homemade when possible otherwise from the jar. The Waitress own one seems to have the least salt and no sugar in it). Serve with any of the above and often grate in some courgette for extra veg.

Jacket potato (sweet or white) with cheese (either a little hard cheese grated or cream cheese) and some peas mashed in. An absolute Eadie fave!

Omelette with all the veg I can find thrown in! Probably a little cheese for good measure too!

Roasted veg. Chop it all up throw in in a baking tray. Sit back and relax (ish) for half an hour.

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Brilliant Breakfasts;

A truly massive challenge has been to give Eadie, and me, a decent breakfast before we have to leave at 7.50am (in my dreams!).

This has to be both nutritious and relatively mess free…

So far I’ve come up with very few but she getting quicker and tidier!

Hard boiled egg with soldiers. I tend to boil the egg the night before to save some precious minutes. Also means it’s an appropriate temp for her to eat.

Oat puffs or spelt fakes with greek yogurt and chopped berries. Rude Health Oat Puffs and Spelt Flakes are great. Just what they say on the tin! Relatively cheap and really nice addition to my own granola in the morning. Also the spelt flakes make a great coating for homemade fish fingers and chicken nuggets.

That’s really all I’ve got so far for work days… There’s only four though so we just alternate. Ideas welcomed!

When we’re not rushing out the door we love porridge, overnight oats, buckwheat pancakes, egg and grilled tomato on toast. Will definitely share an overnight oat recipe as this is great for Mums and Dads to grab out of the fridge and eat on the go/in the office.

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Further Reading;

So there are a few books I’m finding really handy…

Jamie Oliver Superfoods

Jamie Oliver Superfoods Family Favourites

Leon Books

Hemsley Hemsley The Art of Eating Well

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I really hope this is of some use to a few of you. We’ve certainly benefitted from sharing ideas between the three of us. Would love to hear any top tips you have?

Ali xx

3 thoughts on “Meal Prep is Real Prep

  1. Great ideas Ali, thank you!

    I am trying to feed the babies as much fresh Organic food as possible, Riverford and Waitrose are great for this but it is not so kind on the bank balance when not working, so knowing how to manage that stresses me out! You have given me some fab ideas as it’s easy to get a bit stuck in a rut sometimes xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great blog post Ali, healthy eating is such an important and favourite topic of mine. I have a real thing against ready meals and try where I can to cook everything fresh, but I am human and sometimes there is no time so thanks for sharing about the Cooks meals, will definitely be looking into those.
    My slow cooker is my saving grace when I know I have a busy day ahead of me, and would be absolutely lost without it. Whenever I do a big shop I always pre prep a couple of meals into large freezer bags (you will be surprised how much you can actually freeze) then if I know I have a busy day the next day I will just get the bag out the freezer the night before and let it defrost in the fridge. In the morning I just dump the contents of the bag into the slow cooker, turn it on, and by the end of the day there is a lovely meal waiting for us. Zero preparation, and even better very little washing up, leaving more time to spend with the kids.
    Look forward to seeing all your recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

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