People always think meal prepping is hard or takes up too much time. I disagree. Personally, I think it takes the same amount of time, or less to meal prep.
Do the math: If you pack your lunch while making/eating breakfast you’re spending about 30 minutes a day (2.5 hours every week). Dinner takes about an hour every night (if you take leftovers for lunch or don’t eat them). That’s 7.5 hours cooking a week.
For me it takes about 3.5 hours to meal prep for the week. It also dramatically saves me time in the morning. All I have to do is grab an icepack, lunch bag, and meal containers. I’m an organized mess so I even group my foods by the day of the week I plan on consuming them.
Long story short: here are a few tips that may make your prep time easier.
Know what meals can be cooked together. If you are baking one of your meals, cook the other on the stove simultaneously. It works better if your stagger your end times. If two meals finish at the same time, then you have 10 or so minutes of wasted time when your stove isn’t in use.
Please don’t ask me how long it took me to figure this one out.
Make friends with a slow cooker. It’s autumn, aka the best time for soups, chilies, and chowders. Take advantage of your crockpot! Throw everything into the crockpot at the beginning of your prepping and then make everything else. Dinner may be finished or close to finished by the time you finish meal prepping!
Have different sized containers. I know I wrote like 3 paragraphs on this before, but it’s super important. Storing all of your meals can be a game of Tetris is you have a small refrigerator. If foods are in the correct container, they won’t take up as much space.
Make sure everything is thawed. This is mostly a problem for my meat-eating friends. There have been times that I forgot to take my fish out and had to wait for it to thaw (10 lost minutes). I
Use your “dead space” wisely. There’s lasagna in the oven and stir fry on the stove. There are so many things to do while you wait on those to cook. I usually wash dishes, sort my snacks, cut fruits, or dice peppers.
Don’t save your dishes until last. There are several potential issues with not cleaning your dishes. If you re-use something, there is the possibility for cross-contamination. If you use your favorite knife on meal one and forget during meal four, well you’re out of luck. Most of all, it’s super overwhelming to have to wash a lot of dishes at once.
Be patient. I know how tempting it can be to turn the stove or oven to a higher temperature. I promise it’s not a good idea. Never compromise food quality. Otherwise on Wednesday when you eat that meal, you will regret it.
What day of the week can you commit to meal prepping?
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