Preparing your meals ahead of time can do two amazing things: 1) save you time in the kitchen, because all you need to do is pull out your prepared meal and heat it up; and 2) help you manage portion sizes, because you’re eating meals you’ve created with the right amount of food for your days. It takes a bit of work getting used to preparing your meals ahead of time, bit we’ve got some meal prep secrets that will help you become an expert at planning your menu ahead of time:
Cook Lots at Once
Instead of limiting yourself to making one cup of rice per meal, cook up four or five cups in one large pot, then divide it between your various meals. Do the same with noodles, potatoes, veggies, meat, chicken, or anything else you cook up. You can cook the food then add the spice, sauce, and flavor later, or you can eat the same pre-cooked meal more than once. You don’t always need variety when the food is absolutely delicious!
Use Your Oven
The oven can be an amazing tool to help you prepare a lot of food at once. You can use one large baking tray to roast chicken, potatoes, and veggies for two or three meals at a time, or cook up a big batch of casseroles for the week. The beauty of the oven is that all you have to do is prepare the food then let it sit for 60-120 minutes as the oven does the hard work for you. No stressing over burning food or overflowing pots!
Rock that Crockpot
A crockpot or slow cooker can help you to churn out some amazingly delicious meals with very little effort. The cooker can handle all kinds of meats, veggies, potatoes, and grains, and all you have to do is add the ingredients and switch it on. If you want variety in your meals, cook up four or five meals’ worth of protein with simple spices (garlic, onions, salt, pepper), then add the flavoring or sauces once the meat is finished cooking and has been separated. It’s a beautiful way to cook a whole lot of meat at once, and the fact that it’s slow-cooking means you can get away with using cheaper cuts of meat.
Try Microwave Safe Containers
This is a trick that helps to speed up the re-heating, pre-eating process. If you have to heat up the food in a pot or pan, it can take time. The microwave, however, can defrost and heat up your food in a matter of minutes. Using microwave safe containers to store the food means you can pull it out of the freezer and get it hot without needing to use plates or switch containers.
Eat the Same Thing
It can actually be kind of nice to eat the same two or three meals every day for a week, especially if it’s a meal you love. Switch it up every week, but try cooking multiple meals of the same dish. It’s far easier than trying to pre-cook 21 different meals.
That NEVER means pre-packaged or processed food, but it does mean food items that are prepared for your convenience: shredded lettuce, grated cheese, pre-cut veggies, carrot sticks, frozen fruits and veggies, rotisserie chicken, and canned soups. These food items will help you to spend less time preparing your meals, so you don’t have to spend your entire Sunday working at your stove. Check your local grocery stores for ready-made foods that can help you speed up meal prep.