Meal prepping is a great way to save time and money on groceries. It can also help you to better understand what your family is eating each day, and have those meals in the fridge or freezer ready to go.
It’s perfect for people with a busy schedule. It’s also great for anyone looking to be extra frugal with their weekly budget, or just have the peace of mind that their meals are set for the week and even beyond.
Prepping helps if you’re already a super-organized type of person. But if not, you’ll soon get up to speed by color coding and labeling zip lock bags and plastic containers containing various meals in your freezer.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned meal prepper, here are some cooking hacks to help you streamline your meal prepping.
Wash, Chop, and Freeze All Your Veg at the Same Time
Getting organized is a huge part of being a good meal prepper. So, why not start as soon as you unpack your groceries? When you unpack your vegetables, wash, chop, and put them in separate zip lock bags in the fridge or freezer right away.
It’s a small thing, but it’s a meal-prep hack that saves you time, and it means having chopped vegetables ready to go when you need them.
Use Sauces That Cross over Meals
A good sauce is one of the key elements to prepping a batch of meals. Sauce is one of the easiest and most versatile foods, you can store it separately, warm it up and add it to other meals. So, it makes sense to make a sauce you can add to various foods.
For example, you can use a good tomato-based sauce for pasta, chicken, and ground beef/chicken meals. Don’t prep similar meals from the same ingredients—that’s a quick way to get bored eating the same meals.
Another hack is to pour your leftover broth into ice trays and freeze it. You can then pop out a cube or two for some added flavor in a new meal.
Always Have Pre-Cooked Grains Prepared
Grains such as rice, quinoa, and pasta are healthy, easy to cook, quick to reheat, and compliment loads of meals. It’s always handy to have some prepared so you can spoon out a side serving to the main dish, add to a salad, and so on.
Most grains have a long shelf life too, up to 6 months for some in an airtight container. Once cooked, they are good for five or so days in the fridge or a couple of months in the freezer.
Write Down Your Recipes
It can get pretty confusing which ingredients you’ve used in what meals if you’re freezing dozens of meals at a time. Plus, you’re almost certainly going to change recipes to suit your own taste and improve them over time. It’s invaluable if you have a big family and need to properly scale the recipe to account for the added servings you may need.
It’s good practice to write down your recipes and note any changes you’ve made. This way, if you or someone else is really enjoying a meal, you can refer back to your recipe notes to find out what’s in it.
It also might prove important if you’re entertaining guests with allergies or some other special dietary requirements.
Invest in a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers, also commonly called crock-pots, are a meal preppers best friend. They allow you to cook huge batches of food throughout the day with minimal effort. You can then separate the food into containers and store it, simple.
Using a slow cooker is a much more efficient way to prepare meals in bulk than using an oven or stove. Not only do you save time not having to watch over the food as you would using a stove, but it also saves money, as they operate on low wattage.
Put Together a Meal Schedule
Having a good meal schedule planned out might be the most important meal prepping hack of all. By planning out exactly what groceries to buy and when, to what you’re cooking on what days, and which meals you’re eating – you’ll become an efficient meal prepping master.
You need to organize the entire process to save time and money, and most importantly, enjoy the meals you’re preparing.