Finding the time to make healthy meals for your picky eaters can be a struggle. But with a little bit of meal planning and food prep, you can make sure your little ones are getting the nourishment they need. This guide will help you create a strategy for quick and easy meal prep that will keep your family’s bellies full of delicious and nutritious fruits and other food.

Planning ahead

Use one day each week to draft a plan of what will be eaten throughout the next seven days- this gives you a great outline to fall back on, rather than trying to get creative every day. To ensure that your little ones get their daily dose of fruits and vegetables, include them in your meal planning. This will help you create a balanced diet that is full of nutritious foods. Plus, you can get creative with your meals by trying out new recipes or incorporating different types of fruits and vegetables.

Creating a grocery list

Creating a grocery list ties directly into the previous point. Take a look at your plan and assess what ingredients you will need for the week to come- oftentimes, you will not have every niche spice in your cabinet, so a thorough list allows for the least amount of stress possible. By planning ahead, you can avoid any last-minute runs to the grocery store or fast food restaurants, ultimately saving both time and money.

One tip for creating a grocery list is to consider meals that have overlapping ingredients. For example, if you plan to make a pasta dish one night, consider adding spinach to your list, which can also be used in salads or as a side dish.

Prepping food ahead of time

Use every Sunday to spend 3 hours prepping meals- 3 hours is usually the maximum amount of time you will need for the entire week’s worth of meals, and it saves you valuable minutes during the more busy parts of the week. By allocating this time once, you are able to spend a maximum of 15 minutes getting dinner ready for the rest of the weeknights.  When cooking something like a soup, chili, or stew, it’s easy to double the recipe and freeze half for later. This can come in handy when you need a quick meal on a busy night. Additionally, consider using AI for creative ideas. Apps like Pinterest can be a great resource for new recipes or food combinations

Pre-cut produce

One way to make meal prep more efficient is to pre-cut produce. Fruits and vegetables are often time-consuming to chop and peel, but you can do it in advance. Consider slicing apples, cucumbers, carrots, and celery sticks into snack sizes. Not only does this make it easier to incorporate healthy foods into meals, but it also makes snacks more convenient for little ones.

Marinate meat ahead of time

Another tip is to marinate meat ahead of time, whether it’s chicken or beef. This helps to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor before cooking. This makes the cooking process easier, and you can add this prepped source of protein to any healthy meal for your little ones.

Make big batches

Making big batches of food is another great way to meal prep.  Not only does it save time in the kitchen, but it also ensures that you have plenty of leftovers for those busy nights when cooking a meal from scratch isn’t feasible. Some great foods to make in big batches include soups, stews, casseroles, and pasta dishes. Additionally, big batches can save you money since you can buy ingredients in bulk and take advantage of sales. With a little bit of planning and preparation, big-batch cooking can be a lifesaver for busy moms who want to ensure their little ones have healthy and tasty meals on hand.

Use AI for creative ideas

Tools like ChatGBT can be used to generate meal plans when you can’t think of anything creative.  This is especially helpful when you’re running low on ideas or feeling stuck in a rut. Another benefit of using AI is that it can help you incorporate more variety in your child’s diet. For example, ChatGBT might suggest adding more vegetables to a dish or introducing a new type of food that your little one hasn’t tried before. It’s an easy way to break out of your meal prep routine and keep things interesting for your picky eaters. Plus, it can save you a lot of time and energy in meal planning. With the click of a button, you’ll have a list of new and exciting meal ideas to try out with your family. So, the next time you’re feeling uninspired in the kitchen, don’t hesitate to turn to AI for some fresh ideas!

Have emergency stashes of meals

Lastly, it’s important to have emergency stashes of meals on hand. Whether it’s a frozen pizza or canned soup, it’s always a good idea to have something available for nights when cooking isn’t an option. By following these meal prep tips, busy moms can ensure that their little ones have healthy and delicious meals all week long.

At SimplySmart Childcare and Montessori, we provide warm, catered meals with locally produced food. Eating healthy is important for children, and we make sure to prioritize holistic wellness at all of our locations. To learn more or book a tour, visit