As you get savvier with meal prepping, you’ll often learn tips and tricks that help you to 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!
These 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 swipe 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 swipe file that you can go to whenever you need. Save recipes on Pinterest. Check out my Pinterest page for ideas!
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 zucchini 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. Make sure you read the labels and look at the ingredients.
Prep veggies early on
When you come back from the grocery store, 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, pasta dishes and anything else that uses veggies. This can save tons of time later in the week, not to mention less stress! It also adds the easy button for snacks when you’re short on time.
Bulk buy meat when it’s on sale
Buying meat when it’s on sale and stashing it in the freezer for when you need it is super useful for your budget, as well as helping you to get more organized. It also means less time in the grocery store. Check out a local butcher and ask them how to cook cheaper cuts of meat.
Prepare marinades and sauces early
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 on the stove. From there, it’s super easy to portion it up and freeze it for later in the week.
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 amount of pans you use! One pan dinners are perfect for this. When you’re pushed for time or just want to have less mess, look for one pan dinner inspiration!
Real Simple Good website has tons of great sheet pan recipes like this Sesame Beef.
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. Sounds awesome, right? 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. Bacon makes everything taste better. If you’re a vegetarian don’t forget about fresh herbs!
What’s your favorite meal prep hack? I’d love to hear them.