When you’re a working adult, it’s tedious finding time to cook between running errands, working, and commuting. On top of this, many of the yummy recipes from cooking shows require preparation time. For many people, cooking three daily meals is out of the table.
Meal preparation defines a system that helps simplify your cooking process and fits it into your busy schedule. There’s no rule to food or meal prep, whether you’re reheating leftovers or batch cooking your dinner for the week.
If you’re looking to fit easy meals into your schedule without spending hours in the kitchen, check out these meal prep tips to save time:
Tip #1: Meal Prep Services
If cooking isn’t your forte, you don’t have to struggle in the kitchen to prepare meals you probably won’t eat. Meal prep services offer the delivery of measured ingredients for quick meals. The meal plan delivery also comes with detailed steps to guide every recipe. These services allow you to curate a wide range of meals according to your diet choices.
Tip #2: Organize Your Kitchen And Pantry
Organizing your kitchen and pantry is one of the best meal prep tips to save time that you really need to consider. Your pantry makes up the spices and food items that make up your meals. Cooking in a cluttered kitchen eats into your time. Invest in labels and jars for your grains and spices to keep them handy.
Buy drawer dividers for your pantry and sort food items according to their dryness and groups. For instance, place pasta jars on the same shelf while grains like rice and chickpeas belong together. When shopping, stock your pantry with versatile foods like canned foods, nuts, and baking essentials so that you have multiple meal options.
Tip #3: Invest In Storage Bowls
Food prep involves a lot of chopping, cutting, and cleaning. You also have to store veggies, cooked meals, and meats after preparation. While plastic bowls get the job done to an extent, working with mismatched lids and tubs isn’t fun, especially since they aren’t safe for microwave use.
Instead, invest in high-quality storage bowls for different purposes. Look out for containers that work well with cold temperatures and dishwashing liquid for freezing. For microwaves, consider buying glass bowls because they’re sustainable and available in grocery stores.
Tip #4: Stock The Right Kitchen Tools
After stocking your pantry and organizing your kitchen, you’ll need the right tools to help you cook faster. For instance, whisking eggs by hand for a baking recipe could take up to 10 minutes. Instead, invest in an electric hand mixer to save time.
Your slow-cooked dinner can come out faster using an Instant Pot while you do other things. To save more time, ditch shredding knives for food processors when chopping your vegetables. Other utensils to consider for your meal prep journey include measuring cups, air fryer, vegetable peeler, blender, parchment paper, baking trays, ramekins, and mixing bowls.
Tip #5: Create A Weekly Meal Plan
You can’t wing meal prep if you want to save time. Between pulling out the recipe and cooking, hours can go by before you finally settle down to eat. Beyond having a well-curated kitchen with the right tools, you’ll also need a meal plan that works for you.
Curate a list of your favorite healthy meals and sort them according to ease of preparation. Create a weekly calendar for at least two meals daily. Consider recipes that can work as leftovers to optimize cooking time. Incorporate breakfast smoothies into your meal plan as well, since they only take a few minutes to prepare. To avoid eating the same foods, plan for six meals so you can dine out or order takeout once a week.
Tip #6: Keep Cooked Meat Handy
Cooking meat takes the bulk of the time you spend in the kitchen. From soups to pasta dishes, there’s so much to do with meats during food prep. Rather than cook meat for every single meal, set aside time to cook all the nonperishable you’ll need throughout the week.
You can toss them in the air fryer or lightly grill and freeze for later use. Storing cooked meat gives you multiple meal options when you’re not looking to spend too much time in the kitchen.
Tip #7: Prepare Double Batches
Having leftovers can make your life easier on those weekdays when you’re too tired to cook. During your next meal prep, consider making twice as much food so you can store and reheat during the week.
If you don’t have adequate freezer space, cook as much as you can comfortably store. Although cooking double batches takes some extra minutes, you’ll save the time spent making a fresh meal doing something else.
Tip #8: Start With The Recipe With The Longest Prep Time
Meal prep takes a lot of strategic actions. After setting up the spices, ingredients, and tools you’ll need, you’re ready to cook. Well, you won’t save time if you start with faster recipes. Instead, prepare the ones with the longer prep times, and work on the shorter ones while at it.
If you have an ingredient that requires 30 minutes of baking time, start by throwing it in the oven before tackling the quicker ones.
Tip #9: Meal Prep On Weekends
Whether you’re working from home or going to the office, the essence of meal prep is to save time, not weigh you down. Batch cooking during the week isn’t a good idea since you’ll have a lot on your place. Consider taking a few hours out of your weekend to prepare your meals for the week.
You can either prepare all the veggies and meats you’ll need or cook single portion meals for the week and freeze using storage containers.