Picture this: You finish work late hungry and tired, but you have no idea what you want to eat. So you stare at the fridge until you get an idea, but then when you go to your cupboard for a key ingredient, you discover you’ve run out. There goes that dinner plan, and now you’re back to staring at your fridge, hoping for inspiration to strike as your stomach growls.
Cooking can be fun, but it can also be time-consuming – especially for those of us with busy schedules. Don’t worry though, we have you covered. Start using these handy meal prep tips and ideas to spend more time doing the things you love (like eating!) and less time digging around in your fridge.
How often do you finish work first and then try to figure out what you want for dinner? Probably often. Many of us waste more time opening cupboards and our fridge trying to figure out what we want to eat (or what we have to eat) rather than actually eating.
Skip this annoying daily step by coming up with meal plans. Pick one day of the week to sit down and figure out what you’ll have for dinner the next 3, 5, or even 7 nights. That way when you’re done work, you can get straight to cooking.
Make A Grocery List
Another bad habit that many people have is just going to the grocery store to get ‘food’ with no actual ideas of what you actually need. Often this means you end up going to the store more frequently when you really shouldn’t have to.
Instead, take the time to take stock of what you actually have at home versus what you need. Use your meal plan for the next few days to make your list and stick to it. Not only will this help cut down on visits to the grocery store, but you’ll probably end up saving money by sticking to things you need and not just shopping while hungry with no real plan.
Batch Cook if Possible
Some people love cooking, some people hate it. Either way, food prep and cooking can take up a lot of time, which isn’t always ideal for everyone’s schedule. If you’re someone who isn’t really a fan of being in the kitchen, then consider meals and food items that you can batch cook or prepare in advance. Grains especially, such as rice and quinoa, are easy to batch cook. You can also prep veggies in advance too. Batch cooking in general is an easy way to cut down on time.
Make Use of Your Freezer
Batch cooking is super handy for making meals for a couple of days, but you can also use the batch cooking trick for meals that you can freeze and pull out later. While this won’t work for every recipe or meal, it does work for many of them. Homemade pasta sauces or lasagna, soups, casseroles, and savoury pies are all meals that can be made and then frozen to be eaten at a later date.
Choose Multi-Purpose Foods
One thing that will make meal prep much faster and easier is if you choose multi-purpose foods, like chicken breasts for example. Batch cook a few chicken breasts that you can eat in different ways throughout the week; in a salad, on a sandwich, as your protein for fajitas or tacos, or just on their own. It’s an easy way to have a variety of meal options and change up flavours.
Invest in Good Storage Containers
Part of the meal prep process is being able to portion and store things, and if you’re constantly looking for containers to fit things in or lids that match, then you are less likely to consistently do meal prep. Invest in some good reusable containers with tight seal lids and see-through exteriors so you can easily see and grab what you want or need from the fridge.
Meal prep may seem like a chore; however, when you consider the long-term gains of being able to just grab things already prepared in the fridge without having to worry about making a grocery store run, then it’s definitely worth it!
Hannah Logan is a Canadian travel writer who dreams of being just like Indiana Jones. You can follow her travels on her personal travel blog
Eat Sleep Breathe Travelwhere she shares her travel tales and (mis)adventures around the world.