Easy Dinner Prep Tips for busy Moms (and Dads!)

For those who struggle to find the time to cook, this crockpot prep ahead method has been an absolutely lifesaver!!! 

I don't know about you, but between taking care of two active toddlers, trying to keep the house clean and prepping food for the family, I am wiped out every day and still feeling like I couldn't get everything done that I intended to. With stress levels high, but still needing to remain happy-peppy-rah rah rah for the twins my therapist suggested I take 15-20 minutes out of my break each day (aka nap time) to meditate. I got a good laugh out of that suggestion at first, but once I actually did it and felt a WORLD of difference mentally, I decided I needed to make it a daily priority. But something had to give as I usually prep dinner during nap time. I thought "Mission: Impossible" until I learned of a handy trick  to minimize meal prep time and boom! Life just got a little easier.

Enter "dump" recipes. Now, at first glance it sounds gross, but I assure this will be your new best friend. You'll need a crockpot and some freezer bags and the world will be your oyster. 

The idea is that you can prep a whole bunch of meals at once, throw all the ingredients into freezer bags, pull out as needed, toss into crockpot in the morning and have a delicious meal at the end of the day! Sooo easy! 

What I do that makes is even easier for me is I label all the bags first and put the time and setting on the bag (6 hours-Low) then write ingredients for each on sticky notes and put them on the bags to make stuffing them easier. Roll them up and stick in the freezer! That's all there is to it!!

My suggestion for finding recipe ideas is to look up "dump" recipes on Pinterest (you can also look up "crockpot" or "slow cooker" recipes. I always look using a different search word each time to generate different results. The "dump" recipes are a good start because they are geared specifically for prepping and freezing ingredients). But you can make it even easier than that... If you're in a time crunch or short on ingredients (like I was tonight!) you can just throw some chicken breasts in each bag and dump a bottle of whatever dressing, soup, sauce, etc, you have in your cabinet and call it a day! Some examples that work are:

Caesar dressing
Cream of Mushroom soup
Cheese soup
Honey Mustard 
Virtually any salad dressing
BBQ Sauce (and cut up pineapple!)
Coconut Milk & Curry powder (stir together first) 

Get creative! The possibilities are endless! 

We don't eat a lot of meat in the house (as I'm a vegetarian) and G usually only likes chicken so I buy a large pack of chicken breasts (I've been getting it at the meat counter at Whole Foods) so that I can always make at least 3 chicken "dump" bags at a time, plus 1-2 vegetarian recipes at around 5 meals let food prep session. On days that I use a pre-made crockpot meal I prep something non-crockpot (like something I'd make in a skillet or oven) so it's ready to go for the next day! 

So if you keep sticking your freezer you'll always be ahead of the game, which is awesome if you ever have days where you don't have time to do anything!
This method has saved me SO much time and stress!!! Just wanted to share!