For many of us, saying goodbye to summer and hello to a new school year means easing back into routines and thinking about meals more seriously. Goodbye carefree summer snacking. Hello, set meal times and hungry after-school-kiddos.
The transition from summer to school is made easier with meal prepping and here are some useful tips to get back into the swing of things. Whether you're sending the kids off or you're homeschooling, getting the kitchen or dining room table cleared off and the pantry organized and stocked will ensure that tummies are fed and your family is satisfied.
Getting Started: Organize the Refrigerator and Pantry
The first order of business: clean out the fridge and pantry. Purge outdated or spoiled foods and make room for the new. Stock up on cleaning supplies. Here are some things we suggest from The Kitchen Store:
1. Silicone Soft Scrubbers in Turquoise, Green, & Yellow. Tackle the dishes with these soft and gentle silicone scrapers. They clean without scratching and don't hold germs and bacteria like sponges often do.
2. Sweet Grace Multi-Surface Cleaner- A TKS fave fragrance is now available in a multi-surface cleaner full of fragrance but free of parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, phthalates, and ammonia.
3. Norpro - My Favorite Scraper- These plastic scrapers are great for hard-to-remove foods, like baked on cheeses or dried foods on cookware, bakeware, and countertops. Safe to use without scratching.
4. Swedish Dishcloths- We LOVE these. Did you know one Swedish dishcloth can replace 17 rolls of paper towel. 17 rolls! Great for dishes, washing countertops, soaking up spills, cleaning faces!
5. Mud Pie Fruit Sponges- make cleanup fun with these fruit shaped colorful sponges.
6. Compost Pail - Save scraps of food for compost and reuse in the garden.
Storage Solutions for Pantry Organization & Meal Prepping
Now that the fridge and pantry are cleaned, it's time to think about bringing in storage supplies for both. Storing foods in clear containers helps keep them fresher longer and allows you to monitor supply easily and quickly. It also allows the kids to help themselves better!
7. Microwave Cookware & Storage Set - A sturdy set of microwaveable storage containers goes from fridge to microwave.
8. Stand -N- Seal Bag Set - These re-useable bags stand up so you can easily fill with snacks like chips and pretzels. Easily portable for on-the-go, too.
9. OXO Snap Glass Storage Containers - Freeze, store, and re-heat in these glass storage containers with snapping lids.
10. Berry Boxes - Prep fresh fruits and berries and store in these colorful berry boxes so they last longer and stay fresher. Perfect for after school snacking and ready when your snackers are.
11. OXO Pop Containers - We LOVE these containers for keeping pantry items at-the-ready. The popping lid locks in freshness and the ability to see what is stored makes accessing snacks so easy. It's also easy to see what needs to be restocked.
12. Food Jars- these keep foods warm or cold and are perfect for packing in lunchboxes or picnic baskets.
Tips for Meal Prepping
So we've got the fridge & pantry cleaned up and organized and the storage supplies procured. Now, for the fun part: meal prepping. Here are some tips to get started.
1. Make a plan. Write a list of meals your family enjoys. A weekly meal plan can help you organize your thoughts. Run the plan by the fam and take their suggestions into account, too.
2. Schedule time for food prep. Literally. Write "food prep" into your planner. Sundays often work for most people, but any day of the week you can commit and hour or two to preparing food for the coming week will work. Use this time to chop, dice, slice, and freeze whole meals or even just components of the meal to be used later in the week.
3. Start small! Break out tasks over several sessions to ease feelings of overwhelm. Write down each small step.
Having the right tools makes the job easier. Some tools we think you'll LOVE for meal prepping:
Freezer Meals, Crockpot Recipes, and Instant Pot Meal Ideas & Inspiration
Finally, we've made it past cleaning, organizing, and stocking up on all the things. Now, the question every parent dreads after a long day of work, school, and extracurricular activities:
WHAT"S FOR DINNER?
There are so many great resources online for finding meals specifically for freezer preparation and crockpot recipe sites. A couple of our faves are:
And if you're inspired to dust off the Instant Pot or slow cooker, we have these at The Kitchen Store:
Don't forget to SAVE this to your fave DINNER OR RECIPE Pinterest Board for future reference!