Meals. They are a never-ending chore it seems, and if you are like me and have a large family and also homeschool, they really seem to never end. For the mom who works outside of the home only to come home from work and have to feed a bunch of hungry people who want to know what’s for dinner, meals can be equally daunting. I have been there, too. Meal prep doesn’t have to take much time to do, but the time savings can be monumental!
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Over time, I have found some simple strategies that help lessen my time in the kitchen. These strategies aren’t rocket science, really, but they are tricks that have really made a difference for me in saving time.
After all, meals are hard enough to get on the table. It pays to make it as easy as it can be.
Here are 8 meal prep tips that will save you loads of time!
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1. I generally cook for more than one meal when I am in the kitchen
Every little bit helps in preparing for another meal. In essence, I am my own sous chef. This means that if I am standing in the kitchen waiting for bread to toast, I can cut carrots for lunch. If I am waiting for water to boil, I can chop onions, brown ground turkey, cut and wash lettuce for salad, or make a quick dressing. I have learned to maximize my time in the kitchen so that I am never idly waiting for something.
2. I use my menu plan, if you need help with that, read in Menu Planning 101 part one and Menu Planning 101 part two, to plan ahead
If I am having something with chicken twice that week, I cook it all at once. If I am having mashed potatoes and scalloped potatoes, I peel enough for both meals and make them both at the same time. I have recipes that will keep (and only get better) for a few days.
3. If you are walking past the kitchen, pick one small meal prep thing to do each time you walk past
For example, peel carrots. This takes two minutes, but if you do little things like this each time you walk past, you will have your meal prep done in no time.
4. If you have ever watched 30 Minute Meals, you have seen Rachael Ray take everything she needs from her fridge or pantry over to her prep area all at once
Although I am not nearly as daring in the balancing act since graceful and I do not get along, there is something to be said for gathering all your ingredients first. It really is a time saver.
5. Along the same lines of thinking is putting everything all away at the end
While I do throw away trash as I go, if I am done with the mayonnaise, for instance, I slide it to the end of the counter to be put away when I am done cooking. By the time I have assembled my dish, everything is gathered all together in one place to put away quicker.
6. Meal prep at night is also a huge time saver, especially for moms who work
7. Utilize your crock pot
It is my best friend, and it could be yours, too. I generally use mine twice a week. I make almost all of my soups in it in addition to stews, meats, and pasta dishes among many others in my crock pot. Even if the recipe doesn’t say it is for a crock pot, I usually try it. I have only had it not work out well a couple of times.
8. Organize your kitchen efficiently
Really take a step back and make sure your kitchen works in the best way. If you have to bend down and dig in a low cupboard for something you frequently use, try to arrange things so it is easier to reach. Likewise, having to stand on a chair to get something on a regular basis isn’t working that well for you either. Perhaps doing a kitchen revamp could really save you some time in the long run.
Making meals doesn’t have to be something you dread. A little planning ahead of time goes a long way. Try these tips on for size and see how much time you can save with just a little meal prep!