Taking care of everyone–but yourself? Here are some ideas for food prep for moms so you can feed yourself well too!
This post was written in partnership with Healthy Family Project.
You packed lunch boxes last night, flipped pancakes for your kids this morning, and prepped healthy after-school snacks.
Meanwhile, YOU nibbled a cold, leftover pancake for breakfast, ate an energy bar at your desk for lunch, and grabbed a fistful of Goldfish crackers while cooking dinner.
If this rings a bell, you’ve fallen into a common trap: focusing so much on feeding your family that you forget to properly feed yourself. And yep, I’ve been there too.
You deserve better
We all care about our kids. But we also need to care about ourselves–and how we feed ourselves is an important part of that. When we’re well nourished–with foods that give us energy, satisfy us, and (this one is important too!) make us happy–we’re better equipped to handle everything and everyone else.
So let’s agree that nourishing ourselves is just as important as nourishing our kids.
How food prep can help
Honoring your own food needs will be easier if you earmark some weekly food prep for yourself. I like to call it Treat Yourself Right Food Prep. Here’s how to get started:
- Identify the trickiest spots in your day, the meals or moments when feeding yourself properly is just plain hard. Maybe you skip breakfast because you run out of time or scarf down your kid’s discarded pizza crusts in lieu of making your own lunch. Those tricky spots will be different for everyone and different for each stage of parenthood.
- Take some time at the beginning of the week (or whenever you can steal a moment) and prep something to tackle those tricky spots. Here are some ideas:
Food Prep For Moms: 8 Ideas
1. Lunch Containers. Those pretty rows of prepped lunches aren’t just for Pinterest. They’re totally doable. So instead of nibbling your kids’ leftover sandwich crusts, make a beautiful lunch container for yourself.
You can batch cook a recipe you love and fill a few containers (I got my containers at Costco but these glass food prep containers look similar).
If you like the meal idea in the photo below, follow these steps:
- Cook a batch of rice, quinoa, or farro (or buy pre-cooked rice in a microwavable pouch)
- Roast a pan of whatever vegetables you like
- Include a protein-rich item (like grilled chicken breasts or shrimp, a chopped block of tofu, or canned chickpeas or other bean)
- Buy or make a sauce you like
Recipes to get you started:
2. Salads: Salads always sound good in theory. Then you think about all that rinsing and chopping and prepping and before you know it, you’re grabbing slices of salami from the deli drawer and calling it lunch.
So take some time to prep a few jarred salads (place heavier items on the bottom, greens on the top, dressing kept separately) that you can dump into a bowl and dress. Here’s a no-brainer formula for you: How to Build a Healthy Salad
Or pick up a few salad kits that look especially good (this Sweet Kale is a favorite of mine) and pair them with a satisfying source of protein, like canned tuna, hard-boiled egg, canned beans or lentils, or a chopped veggie burger.
3. Snack Bites & Bars: Sometimes you need a snack that quickly and easily satisfies your hunger when you’re, say, nursing a baby or shuttling kids to and from sports. You could grab a bar, but you could also save money by making your own snack bites, bars, and balls. I’m always relieved when I have a batch in the fridge.
Recipes to get you started:
- Nut-Free Snack Balls
- Nut-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars
- 4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Protein Balls
- Quinoa Peanut Butter Bars
- Chocolate Granola Bars
4. Prepped Veggies: Do you eat more vegetables when they’re washed, chopped, and placed in front of you? I do! You’ll save even more time by buying veggies that are already washed, like celery sticks, baby carrots, and snap peas. Portion them into containers you can grab, toss into a bag, or set on your desk to eat while you’re working.
5. Smoothie Packets. Simplify your morning smoothies by prepping packets. Then you can dump the contents into a blender, add a cup of water or milk (dairy or non-dairy) and whirl into a speedy shake. Here’s how to make these green smoothie packets in reusable bags.
6. Prepped Single Ingredients. Sometimes just having one main ingredient ready makes having your own satisfying lunch or snack feel more doable. Here are some to consider:
- Hard boiled eggs (how to make hard-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot)
- Batch of cooked quinoa, farro, or brown rice (how to make brown rice in the Instant Pot)
- Roasted vegetables
- Grilled chicken breasts
- Cooked beans
- Batch of rinsed salad greens (pack with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture)
7. Staples You Love. You spend so much time shopping for food your family likes. Are you forgetting about yourself? Whether it’s your favorite brand of hummus, a veggie that you (and only you) will eat, or a salty snack you have no intention of sharing (I have a hungry teenager, so I fully support secret food stashes), you deserve to eat the foods you love.
8. Sauce or Dressing: Sometimes all you need is something especially delicious to drizzle onto your favorite salads, some leftover roasted veggies, or pasta and make them feel special. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Easy Peanut Sauce
- Lemon Tahini Dressing
- Everyone Loves This Vinaigrette
- Creamy Greek Yogurt Poppyseed Dressing
About my partner: Healthy Family Project
I currently serve as the official dietitian for Healthy Family Project, a cause marketing organization dedicated to creating a healthier generation. Since their start in 2002 by Shuman Farms, they’ve raised more than $7 million to benefit children and families. They work closely with Feeding America and other charities that benefit children and families nationwide.
I wrote this post as part of their annual Mission for Nutrition campaign, which was created to help families eat healthier and understand the power of meal planning. You can access a free mini meal planning magazine here and sign up for free virtual cooking classes with registered dietitians around the country.
Healthy Family Project also has tons of healthy recipes and family-friendly tips on their website, and they’re fun to follow on Instagram. Or join me on their Facebook Group, The Healthy Family Project, where we talk about feeding kids–and ourselves!
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.