Let me start off by saying this - I'm no professional in any of the below topics, but I do know from my personal journey what has changed the function, aesthetic and level of joy I experience in my own kitchen. Meal prep has become fun, and I feel accomplished and proud of the food I'm putting on the table for my family.
I have three teenage daughters who enjoy new recipes and fresh food, and a husband who eats for 4 normal sized men (not food shaming here, just a solid fact)! So what I realized, is that as a working mom a) it feels good to be the lead chef of our home, b) I actually enjoy cooking, and c) when I have my sh&* together, the family dynamic and stress level mimics whatever energy I'm putting out there. Let me reiterate - I have three teenage daughter's - so, I really need to nail this last one, or the house is on some level a form of domestic WWIII.
I grew up in a home that surrounded all occasions and friendships around food. I craved that for my own family. As an entrepreneur of 17 years, there have been highs and lows of my own perception of "how good of a mom I was", mostly based around food (welcome to birthing children - the life of eternal guilt lol). Ugh - I hated that I ever made myself feel that way, but also embraced what a huge part of my DNA was connected to family and food.
So, in my "Leanne's Family Kitchen" blogs, I will share with you how I've turned my attitude and life around when it comes to meal prepping and joy in the kitchen. I mean, we're all just mama's around here trying to accomplish the same, thing, right? So if my planning and methods can help you in any little way - BOOM - I'm here for it!
So, without further blabbing - let's get to it!!!!
The start of my euphoric journey in the kitchen began with organization and aesthetic storage (yes, if you're anything like me - a good set of clear and labelled containers can make me feel all the feels). I found both of these increased the function and joy of meal prep, and decreased the level of stress and time I had to invest behind the counter.
Below you will find a few of my tips (with associated links) on "Prepping for the Prep". Use what you like and pass by what doesn't work for you. Every families kitchen and personal needs are different. This is a little sneak peek into what's worked for me! xo
1. Spice Drawer Organization - My most important recommendation!!!!
Here's my spice drawer "after":
I don't have a before, because never in a million years did I think an organized spice drawer would be worthy of writing about! But let me try to paint a "before" picture for you ...cupboards with spices one behind each other in random bottles (shapes and sizes), oh, and spice bags, yes a few bags (some sealed with chip clips), and small metal tins for weird things like "Cream of Tartar", whatever that's for. Meal prepping for 7 days would involve half my time searching for the damn spices!!!!!
Does any of this resonate with your situation? If it does - keep reading!
Here's a link to the containers and the spice drawer racks I love. The glass containers don't have a shaker lid - they're just open to dump or use measuring spoons, which I prefer!
Life changing. Alpha-freaking-betical. I can't even. Type A personality bucket overflowing. Actual function - beyond words.
2. Oil & Vinegar Labelled Bottles
This is a reiteration of the above! Consistency in packaging, paired with labelling is key - both for eye candy, but never sacrificing beauty for function. When you think of nearly any recipe - what is consistent? Spices, oils and vinegars!
In addition to the speed of having these groupings of products labelled, these specific dispensers flow evenly & leave no dripping behind! The product description said this, but I was skeptical - only to be pleasantly surprised!
Like the spices, the oils and vinegars are in my prepping triangle - close to the action where they are easy to access!
3. Fridge Storage & Organization
There are three things that are important for me in the fridge.
1) Space for the food that has been prepped,
2) Accessibility for quick access whether it be snacks, or meals, and lastly -
3) Visibility of food - what's low in stock, and what needs to go!
There are three types of containers I use for meal prep and organization:
Love these! Two sizes (NOT dishwasher safe - I learnt that the hard way). The depth is perfect to fit front to back on the fridge shelves, the top has an airflow option, and the inside has a drain tray so liquid has a place to escape!
I found these at Wal-Mart! Great little containers (1.6 cups) that I use for all of my sauce prep storage and other small items (like pre chopped onions and herbs) . The twist ensures they don't leak, they stack easily and are small enough to tuck away nicely in the crisper.
This is a must for my meal prep. I use these bowls to prep and store the bigger items such as meat mixtures, mashed potato's and so many other things! They come in different sizes, and have a lid that seals nicely so the smells don't take over the fridge. I use erasable markers to write the contents on the outside so grabbing and prepping is quick and easy!
4. Dry Goods Containers
Back to the "prepping triangle" - a term I think I made up lol, but basically means the space closest to where you do all of your prep....
I do have a drawer right in the heart of the action for our most common baking/cooking dry goods. I used to have some round glass containers with bamboo lids from Ikea - they were cute, but didn't work for a drawer (waste of space in a rectangle drawer), and they didn't seal properly, so our brown sugar was always hard as a rock!!!
The other problem I had was finding containers big enough to hold flour and sugar, but short enough to fit in the drawer. After much research - these were the clear winners. They come in various sizes, seal like crazy, clear and flat on the top, so you can label them and still see how much is in there. ALL THE THINGS!
6. Kitchen Utensil Set
Lastly, a clean, concise silicone utensil set. For some reason I felt the need to hold onto every serving, prepping, mixing, peeling kinda piece that I've ever owned (I should probably talk to somebody about that)...until I had an overflowing massive drawer full of multiples utensils - most of which I never used. So - I did it. Full box of previous utensils donated, and replaced by this cute little set. I would do it all over again. Takes up 1/4 of the space, and I've never wished I had something that wasn't part of this set. Not to mention, they're a pretty neutral colour: - may fave - no colour. And silicone, so they never get hot or scratch the pans. Full disclosure, I did donate the utensil holder it came with and used a drawer right beside the stove!
OK, that's IT! I hope you find some goodies in this article that help you find more joy in your kitchen and your family meals!
If this was helpful, or if you try these products, please leave a comment below! It's so helpful to know what products you love and what content helps you in this crazy journey called LIFE!
Sending you lots of love! xoxo