It’s still early in the month August so I feel a bit like someone talking about Christmas during the summer but getting prepared in advance for the start of a new school year can take a lot of pressure off when the time does come.
If you’re not a teacher or the parent of a school-going child you might be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you but the “end of summer” can be a good time for anyone to look at their organisation and see if they can put some structure in place to make their days and weeks run a little more smoothly.
I find one of the hardest parts of being an adult is the constant need to keep feeding myself and now my family too. Cooking a nice meal is all well and good if you’ve got plenty of time but most of us don’t and so it can end up feeling stress-full and like a lot of hard work.
One way that I’ve found to make it easier is investing a couple of hours in food preparation over the weekend. Having some freezable meals ready can save us a lot of time and energy and means that we’re not constantly trying to come up with ideas mid-week or cooking on demand.
Step 1: Boxes & Bags
Get yourself some decent lunch boxes for meals and snacks. You don’t have to spend a fortune but I do advise that you go for higher quality as the cheaper ones can leak and that will create a whole other problem for you.
I recommend the ones that have the little snappers at the edge. A big roll of freezer bags is essential too.
Step 2: Make a Food Plan
If, like me, you’re a bit of a Monica from Friends then you can go all out with your food plan and use an Excel spreadsheet and lots of coloured labels (hello teachers) but a piece of paper and a pen will also suffice. Draw up a table of the days of the week and the meals and snacks that will be needed for your and/or your family.
Step 3: Decide on Your Meals and Snacks
After taking everyone’s likes and dislikes into account decide what meals and snacks you will have for the week and see how many of these can be prepared in advance.
If you struggle for meal ideas Google is your best friend. You can find a multitude of simple, affordable recipes online. To get really serious about saving time look at the nitty-gritty things that can be done.
Things like making overnight oats, chopping up the fruit for your porridge and putting it into a little container that you can reach for in the mornings, making one big salad that you can take from on consecutive days to prevent you from having to prepare a new salad for each day etc. There is so much that can be done in advance of a busy week.
Step 4: Make a Shopping List
Now that you know what everyone is going to have you can look at what items you need to shop for. Making a shopping list is hardly a revolutionary idea but so many people go blindly into their supermarket with only a vague idea of what they need.
This often results in them running out of the things they need during the week and also buying things that they don’t need. Online shopping is also a great time-saver and another way to stop you from buying unnecessary items.
While all of this may seem like hard work to begin with it does get easier when you get into the routine of doing it. I do my meal plans every Tuesday evening, order online on Wednesday evening, the food comes on Thursday evening and then I try to do my preparation on Friday evening so that it’s not dragging into the weekend.
There was a time when I thought that being really prepared was boring but thankfully I’ve been enlightened (and by enlightened I mean I’ve had more mid-week food meltdowns than I care to admit) and realise that the more order I put on the mundane things in my life the more time I then have for the fun stuff.
It also helps me to stay on track with eating healthily and leaves me with more time to exercise too. As part of my online courses I take all of the hard work out of meal planning by including six weeks of simple plans and shopping lists to follow.
I will have a new course starting soon and I also share meal and snack ideas regularly on my social media so come on over and follow if you’d like some help.