Is prepping for dinner the worst part of your day? All the chopping, measuring and marinating can take a surprisingly long period of time. Some people hate meal prepping so much that they decide to scrap it altogether and just go grab something to eat from a local restaurant or fast-food eatery. Obviously, this isn’t the best way to go if you’re trying to eat healthy food and keep your waistline under control.
If you’re looking for ways to make meal-prepping a bit easier and faster, I’ve got good news for you! I have figured out some tried-and-proven methods for making meal prep a cinch. Here are some of my favorite time-saving shortcuts that I regularly use when prepping meals.
1. Prep Your Produce Immediately
How often does your produce go bad because you leave it in those cheap little plastic bags and then forget about it in your fridge? This scenario used to happen to me all the time until I learned a simple secret: if you prep your produce immediately, you’ll be more likely to use it! Also, prepping your produce as soon as you get home from the store will save you time when you’re preparing a meal.
It may be the last thing you want to do after grocery shopping, but make it a habit to wash and chop all of your produce right away. Then, dry it thoroughly before storing each type in its own resealable pouch or glass container. You’ll be surprised how much time you’ll save later when you prep your produce in advance.
2. Make Enough for Leftovers
Whenever I make a meal, I try to save some of the main ingredients to use in another dish. For example, if I’m making tacos one night, I’ll fix up enough seasoned hamburger to use in tomorrow’s lasagna. When you think ahead and cook ingredients that you can repurpose for dinner the next day, you’ll save a ton of time.
3. Organize Your Fridge
Raise your hand if you ever struggle to find ingredients in your fridge. Don’t worry, my hand is raised too! Unfortunately, having a disorganized fridge can make daily meal prep so much more stressful and time-consuming. You have to be able to find the ingredients for your dinner before you can make your meal.
If you’re serious about making meal prep easier, start by organizing your fridge. Declutter each compartment in your fridge by getting rid of anything that’s expired or spoiled. This is a good time to toss foods that are still fresh but that you know you won’t ever eat. Once you reorganize and know right where everything is in your fridge, you’ll be able to whip up dinner in no time.
4. Make Two-in-One Sauces
Sauce is one of those menu items that can be a pain to make but is necessary to complete a meal. To cut back on your sauce-prepping time, make larger batches of sauces that will work for multiple dishes during the week. For example, if you’re making lasagna during the week, make a sauce that will work for both lasagna and spaghetti. That way you’ll have the star component of two meals ready to go in advance.
5. Cook Your Protein Ahead of Time
Let’s say your family loves spaghetti, meatballs and other classic protein selections. To save prepping time, cook big batches of your favorite types of protein and store them in your freezer. Use airtight containers to keep them fresh, and try to consume them within three months.
So, there you have it: Five easy ways to minimize your meal-prepping time. Give them a try and see for yourself how much easier mealtime becomes.