When it comes to managing a busy school schedule, meal prepping for school can be a game-changer. Whether you’re a teacher, a parent, or a student, planning and preparing your meals in advance can save you time, money, and stress. In this article, I’ll share 15 tried-and-true secrets to help you master the art of meal prepping for school.
1. Keep It Simple and Quick
Pick meals that you know are fairly simple and manageable to make, and pick meals you know you’ll actually enjoy eating. Meal prep shouldn’t be complicated!
Don’t shy away from time savers like precooked protein or 3 minute rice. We love shortcuts!
2. Prep Smart Snacks
Pack portioned snack packs with baby carrots, apple slices, nuts, or whole-grain crackers to stay energized between classes. Here are 30 Easy Snack Ideas for a College Dorm
3. Make Meal Prep a Social Activity
Make cooking and meal-prepping a social activity to do with your roommates or friends, or make visits to the grocery store and farmer’s markets together. This is a good idea when you want to socialize, hang out and set yourself up for the rest of the week.
4. Schedule Time on Your Calendar
Taking the time on Sunday to prep everything seems like a lot, but it’s SO WORTH IT to not have to think about cooking during the week and to focus on your classes.
Meal prepping on Sunday can be really fun! Make it an event. Throw on comfy clothes, watch your favorite TV shows while you chop veggies or call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile. And always get takeout after you’re done!
5. Explore No-Cook Options
For a refreshing change, explore no-cook options like salads, cold pasta dishes, or pre-made smoothie bags that you can blend on the spot.
TIPS FOR TEACHERS
1. Prioritize Portable Foods
As a teacher, you’re often on the move. Opt for portable options like salads in mason jars, bento box-style meals, or whole fruit that’s easy to eat. Here are 25 Easy Teacher Lunch Ideas for you to comb through… things that are easy to eat on the go – you never know when you’ll be eating in a meeting, during prep, while walking, etc.
2. Use Slow Cooker Magic
When you’re overwhelmed, use the convenience of slow cookers to have warm, hearty meals waiting for you when you return home from a long day. Prep one easy meal and supplement with pre-made lunches (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s)! Having lunch ready to grab all week takes off so much stress!
3. The Right Meal Prep Containers are crucial
Invest in a solid set of meal prep containers to make grab and go easier in the morning! Plus plan your meals for the week on the weekend. Read more about The Best Lunchboxes and Meal Prep Equipment for Teachers and Students
4. Have Quick Snacks On Hand
Snacks are just as important as a meal. If I need to stay late unexpectedly or I’m just a little extra hungry one day I need to have snacks on hand that will fill me up. Try one of these Easy to Make Snack Ideas.
5. Coordinate Potluck Prepping
Collaborate with fellow teachers for potluck-style meal prepping. Share the load and enjoy a variety of dishes throughout the week.
MEAL PREP TIPS FOR PARENTS
1. Involve the Whole Family
Turn meal prepping into a family activity. Spend quality time together while prepping meals, and let each family member choose their favorite ingredients. This is one of my favorites…
2. Freeze Kid-Friendly Portions
Prepare extra batches of kid-friendly meals and freeze them in individual portions for those busy school nights. Because these are frozen meals, you want them to thaw out as slowly as possible… I use these freezable lunch boxes for my kids.
3. Plan Nut-Free Alternatives
With school allergies in mind, explore nut-free protein sources like turkey, chicken, or seeds to keep lunches safe for all.
4. Make a List of “Favorite Combos”
Figuring out new things to pack can be a PITA. Ask your kids what their favorite part of lunch was and keep a running list. If you ask them if they liked a specific item, they might just give you a generic “yeah” response. Open ended questions are best when it comes to figuring out their favorites.
5. Introduce “Build Your Own” Meals
Set up “build your own” meal options with different proteins, veggies, and grains. Let your kids customize their lunches to suit their tastes. This is also a good primer for when they get older, so they can think about meal prep styles that work for them, like Buffet Style Meal Prep.
Wrapping up… Meal prepping is a practical tool that can make school days smoother and more enjoyable for teachers, parents, and students alike. You don’t have to try and do all of these things at once, pick one or two and see how they work for you. You can streamline your meal prep routine, save time, and ensure that everyone in the school community is fed and ready to face the challenges of the day.
Let me know if the comments below, which of these tips was most helpful for you. OR… please share your favorite tips and we might feature you in this blog post.