Meal Prep Mistakes
Sunday was another meal prep day in my house. This week though, I made a couple of mistakes and I wanted to talk about them in a bit more detail for a couple of reasons. The first being, in hopes that you don’t make the same mistakes and second, to show that even someone who’s been doing this for years still stumbles!
This is the second week I’ve requested the help of my entire family, which, overall, is fun. Last week is detailed in THIS POST.
I kind of burned up some good mojo though, so next week has to run much better or my kids are going to not be so thrilled to help anymore. Since our lives are so busy as it is, having my kids in the kitchen is great bonding time I don’t want to lose!
Mistake #1 – I didn’t really think through the recipes
I let my kids pick their own recipes this week. This, ultimately, is a good idea. I want them to be excited and proud about what they’re making. Also, it gives me great insight in to what they like to eat for dinner. Since I’m so over hearing complaints, letting them own some of their dinner choices takes the weight off my shoulders.
With all that being said, here’s where it went south this week.
Every recipe was incredibly detailed and involved SO MANY steps. It was awful. I can’t believe I missed the boat on this one, but I did. Even my 9 year old picked an incredibly difficult recipe! I did skim his recipe, it looked easy enough, but once we got into it, my husband had to take over at one point. Who knew poaching salmon could be so complicated?!
I let them choose recipes out of America’s Test Kitchen and it’s definitely a double edged sword. The recipes are great, and I love reading WHY they’ve made the choices they’ve made, but there are NO shortcuts in most of their recipes.
My two teens had about seven DETAILED steps to their recipes and took a couple of hours to prep them. It was tough to keep them motivated to push through. I was even dying a bit inside.
Learn from my mistake: Read the fine print. Are there a ton of steps? If you have many detailed recipes, it can be too overwhelming. Keep at least one or two recipes simple and easy.
Mistake #2 – I didn’t Read the Instructions
This sounds a lot like mistake #1, but I feel it is important to separate them to highlight the things to consider!
We made six recipes this week, doubling two of them for a total of eight recipes. All but one recipe required using the stovetop. I have 4 burners and 8 pots waiting to use those burners. We hit a MASSIVE backlog for the burners which lengthened our meal prep day. This dragged out meal prep and everyone was tired and irritated. Huge mistake on my part!
This is a step that can easily be avoided by choosing recipes that use different cooking methods! There’s the oven, the grill, the stovetop, slow cooker, Instant Pot, and even dishes that don’t need to be cooked.
Learn from my mistake: Be aware of HOW the items need to cook and make sure you don’t hit a backlog.
Mistake #3 – Didn’t Plan for the Day of Cooking
One of my number one suggestions when starting to meal prep is to look at your week and plan ahead. PLAN. AHEAD.
Guess who didn’t do that?
So, we prepped ALL of these meals, but because it was the Super Bowl, everyone wanted snack foods – finger foods. Party foods. And, so, after way too many hours in the kitchen, I wasn’t about to make anything else. None of these meals fit the criteria! Actually, the chili could, but nobody else really agreed with me.
We ended up getting pizza. After all that cooking, we ate pizza. Had I thought ahead, I could’ve incorporated some great snack foods into our meal plan for the week.
Learn from my mistake: Study your week, ESPECIALLY the day of meal prep. Know what you are eating that night as well!
What am I going to do different this week when I meal prep?
Well, I will let them pick their recipes FIRST, then read them, make sure they’re not too complicated or that we’re going to be stuck waiting for an appliance. I will warn the kids If they’re recipe looks too complicated.
Next, I’m going to fill in gaps with my own choices. Let me explain. I already know that Addison wants to make homemade macaroni and cheese (I won’t get into how THAT cheesy goodness will fit into my macros, lol). So, that’ll be a GREAT side dish but I need a protein. So, I’m probably going to grill some chicken breast so that I can make sure I get a few bites of mac and cheese on my plate.
I highlight my mistakes because I want to show how easy it is to make something so much more complicated than it has to be! My kids, so eager after last time in the kitchen, are NOT thrilled about cooking again this Sunday. I feel like this is how a lot of people feel after trying meal prep for the first time.
It doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take some thought and planning to prevent overwhelm and exhaustion on the day of cooking. Some weeks will go smoother than others, but if you have more good than bad, maybe you’ll find there are some incredible benefits to meal prep!