10 Meal Prep Shortcuts that Will Save You Tons of Time
Time is something no one likes to waste, and no one wants to feel like they are spending half of their life in the kitchen, whether it’s to prepare food, eat meals or clean up afterwards. Cutting corners in the kitchen may seem like a taboo concept, but there are ways to shave off time without negatively affecting the quality of your meal.
- Make a Plan – Concepts are easier to adhere to when there’s a plan. Pick one day a week to create a meal plan so you know what foods you need thawed or purchased for each day. Then, each evening, check to see what’s on the plan for the following day. If something can be prepared a night ahead of time, take that opportunity to get it started. That way, when the time comes to throw the meal together, parts of it are already assembled and there are no surprises for the rest.
- Read Through the Recipe Beforehand – It is very important to know your recipe well before trying to put it together. If you don’t read it beforehand, you might get a surprise when you come to the part that says you were supposed to marinate the meat overnight even though dinner is supposed to be ready in half an hour. Also, if there’s any part of the directions that you are unsure of, this would be the time to look up the terms that puzzle you to get some clarity and will save you precious time while you’re frantically trying to get a meal on the table.
- Gather the Ingredients – Get all of your ingredients out and organized before starting to put any part of the recipe together. Also, be sure to have all the bowls and utensils out and ready to go as well. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll save just by having everything at your fingertips.
- Have the Right Tools – While not everyone can afford to have every single attachment for a food processor or mixer, there are several tools you should invest in that will save you a ton of time. Chopping vegetables and herbs tend to take a lot of time and a simple cutting tool for a food processor will cut the time in half – or more!
- Cover the Pot – Some people recommend putting salt in the water to make it boil faster, but the best way to make water boil faster is to put a lid on the pot. It sounds simple, but it works.
- Make Two – This only works for some dishes. Casseroles or lasagnas work the best. While you are troubling yourself to make the one, go ahead and make another. The second one you can freeze (before you bake it) and save for a rainy day. It doesn’t take much longer to make the second one right away, but it saves a ton of time for that second meal whenever you decide to make it.
- Freeze It – Chopped peppers and onions freeze really well and last a while. Keep them in freezer bags by the cup or whatever most of your recipes need. The freezer is your new best friend in your kitchen when it comes to saving time. Without having to chop up those peppers while you’re making your dish, you will save several minutes.
- Cook It and Forget It – Well, you can’t completely forget it. But, you can buy several pounds of ground beef at a time instead of just one or two for what you need. Some might say that freezing the meat straight from the grocery store is the way to go, but some flavor is lost that way and the thawing process makes the meat a bit on the sticky side. So, instead, consider cooking the ground beef – and seasoning it however you like – and then freezing it from there. The meat will keep well until you’re ready to take it out for that casserole or other meat dish you are making.
- Extra! Extra! – Pancakes are easy to make and just as easy to double or even triple, so make those extra pancakes and – you guessed it – freeze them! Pancakes may not last forever in the freezer, but don’t you wish you could eat them for breakfast on busy mornings instead of just reserving them as a weekend treat? Take out a couple of pancakes, wrap them in a paper towel and pop them in the microwave for a minute or so and you’re ready to go.
- Clean as You Go – Many recipes have some down time where the dish is in the oven or you have to wait for this or that before you can do such and such. So, use that time a little more wisely by cleaning up whatever utensils or pots and pans that you’ve used and won’t need again. Either completely wash them or put them in the dishwasher. That way, you’ll have fewer dishes to worry about later and you won’t be just standing around waiting for your meal to be finished.