If you spend more than 2-3 hours in your kitchen every week prepping meals, you’ll want to read this article. I used to dread Sundays because I hate cooking and spending any time in my kitchen making meals – chicken and brown rice with steam broccoli again??! – was more torture than burpees, running 12 miles, and the day after leg day combined. So over the months of slaving away, I learned a few meal prep ideas to make it go by much faster and make life just a bit easier so I could spend the least amount of time in the kitchen as humanly possible and still have healthy meal prepped meals every single day.
Here are 7 tips and tricks to make meal prep (and your life easier):
1. Get Someone Else to Do It
This is the number one thing that made my meal prep faster…I made someone else do it. No, seriously, I outsourced my meal prep to a service that delivers 2-3x a week. Before you roll your eyes and skip this tip (#firstworldproblems), thinking you wouldn’t be able to afford to have a gourmet chef prepare and deliver your meals daily, I’m actually saving money by doing it this way. For around $8 a meal, I can skip the time it takes to plan, research recipes, go to the grocery store, come home, prep and cook meals for the week. I simply open my front door, thank the delivery man, and have 3 Paleo-friendly and very tasty meals a day, five days a week.
I used California Creationz, and I wrote a review about them in this article: Live Healthier, Get Fit, & Save Time All With One Easy Solution.
2. Dedicated Meal Prep Containers
It’s a small thing and something often overlooked. Perhaps it’s my Type A tendencies but having dedicated meal prep containers really helped me with keeping things moving (who really wants to dig through all the cupboards for a matching Tupperware lid?!) Also, because everything was the same size relatively, it fit nicely and neatly into my fridge and into my lunch bag. I’m hoping Santa brings me a 6-Pack Bag for Christmas, so I can store my meals and to fuel my need for organization.
3. Plan It Out
“If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail,” or so the saying goes. Also, if you don’t plan, you end up wasting A LOT of time. When I did my own meal prep, I would research recipes and make my grocery list on Friday, go grocery shopping on Saturday and prep my meals on Sunday for the week. This helped me stick to my grocery list, not buy the errant junk item that would inevitably find its way into my cart, and I would only need to make one trip to the store. It just took a good chunk of time, which is why I had to pay someone else to do it (see #1).
4. Costco is Your Friend
Buying in bulk while meal prepping is a must. With pounds and pounds of chicken, brown rice and steamed veggies, it gets very costly at a regular grocery store. Get a membership to Costco or Sam’s Club if you can. If a membership is too expensive for you, find a friend and split the cost of a membership. You’ll be saving quite a bit in the long run.
5. Cook Everything At Once
Like ripping a band-aid off quickly, doing all the meal prepping at once is the least painful method. I would roast all the veggies on separate trays in the oven on the same temperature. I’d season my chicken breasts 3 different ways and throw them on the BBQ, or I’d use foil and divide my baking sheet into separate compartments and cook three different kinds of chicken in one tray.
6. Bag Your Smoothie Ingredients
I love having a green smoothie every morning after my run, but some days, getting all the ingredients together, washing and chopping is just a pain in the behind. Saturday after getting my groceries for the week, I wash, dry, and prep all of the smoothie ingredients – kale, fruit, spinach, beets, etc. – and divvy them up in Ziploc gallon bags, one for each day. Then in the morning, all I have to do was grab my liquid base and toss the contents of one baggie into my Blendtec Total Blender and press blend. No fuss and easy clean up.
7. Chop All Your Veggies At Once
Just like all my smoothie ingredients, I would wash, dry, and prep all my veggies for snacks at once, put them in Ziploc baggies and have handy, ready-to-go snacks throughout the day. It makes it a little easier to choose a healthy veggie over a bag of chips if you take the tedious prep process out of it.
Hopefully, these tips help you with your meal prep and save you some time! Comment below with your own tips and tricks on how you make meal prep easier.