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As I got savvier with meal prepping, I learnt lots of tips and tricks that helped me get things done quicker. As a newbie meal prepper, it can feel like you spend forever in the kitchen – usually because you’re not aware of the hacks that can cut your prep time!
My tried and tested meal prep hacks should help you to cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen and prep super healthy meals in less time.
Have a meal prep file close at hand
When you’re meal prepping for the week ahead, you don’t want to be hunting high and low for your go-to recipes. Save yourself tons of time by collecting together your tried-and-tested or still-to-come recipes in a file on your phone, tablet or laptop that you can go to whenever you need.
Pre-prepared foods can be a game-changer
While it’s great to do as much as you can from scratch when you’re meal prepping, some pre-prepared foods can be a huge help for cutting time spent in the kitchen. Spiralized courgette or squash noodles can be super healthy and convenient, for example. And frozen fruits and veggies are usually just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts and have the added bonus of being super handy.
Don’t be afraid to use some pre-prepared options to save you time, especially where fruits and veggies are concerned. Just be a little warier of the more processed options. Pre-prepared sauces can be pretty processed, for example.
Prep veggies early on
When you come back from doing your food shop, start prepping your veggies for meals to come. Stash them in the refrigerator or freezer until you need them and they’ll be good to go for cooking stir-fries, one-pot meals and anything else that uses veggies. This can save tons of time later in the week, not to mention less stress!
Bulk buy meat when it’s on offer
Buying meat when it’s on offer and stashing it in the freezer for when you need it is useful for your budget, as well as helping you to get more organised.
Pre prepare marinades and sauces
Save time by making marinades for meat based dishes ahead of time and freezing them. On the day you need them, you can just take your marinade out of the freezer, defrost it and get cooking.
On a similar note, you can also prepare sauces and dressings to use later on, and these can simply be heated up when you’re cooking (or defrosted first, if you’re putting them in the freezer). Just whip up a big batch of sauce or dressing to make it work harder for you.
Batch cook as much as possible
Planning to have soups or curries as part of your meal plans one week? Cook up a big batch in one go, either in a slow cooker or in a big pot. From there, it’s super easy to portion it up and freeze it for later in the week. Freezer bags work great as they take up less room.
Grains are another one that can easily be cooked ahead of time too. Prepping and cooking them in one batch means you can repurpose them for lunches and dinners throughout the week, with minimal effort. They just need to be heated up later in the week for hot meals, or they can be left cold for salads.
One pan dinners are your friend
One easy way to spend less time in the kitchen when you’re meal prepping? Cut down on the number of pans you use! One-pot dinners are perfect for this. When you’re pushed for time or just want to have less mess, I am the biggest fan of one-pot dinners. They are also great for throwing in lots of vegetables that need to be used up.
Repurpose your leftovers
If you usually find that you have leftovers after you’ve prepped meals, making good use of them can free up more time. With some creativity and forward planning, you can repurpose leftovers for another day and spend less time on meal prepping. It’s all about mindset and always asking yourself how you can use leftovers to create another lunch, dinner or snack.
You can also create “planned” leftovers by intentionally cooking more than you need so that you know you’ll have food left to use on future days. You definitely don’t have to use the extra food you cook in the same way (not unless you genuinely intend to have the same meal again for lunch the next day) and there’s plenty of scope for getting creative. Just cook a bit more rice or prep a bit more veg than you actually need and have some ideas in mind for what you’ll do with it.
An easy way to make any leftovers look instantly more appealing? Add a fried or poached egg on top.
Some tips to make this easier:
- Cooking more than one meal? Start off with the one that has the longest cook time and get on with prep for other meals while it’s cooking.
- If you only have time to prep one or two meals, go for the one(s) with the longest cook time. That way, you know that you don’t have to cook that one from scratch, even if you don’t get a chance to do a huge amount of meal prepping this week.
- Once everything is cooked, portion it out into Ziploc bags or containers and freeze.
TASK TIME! This weeks task is to get going with your meal prepping. Comment below and let me know what meals are on your meal plan and how you get on with them.
Happy meal prepping,