My blog post in August, “Meal Prep Tips Part 1”, gave you some general ideas how to start meal prepping in your kitchen. Meal Prep Tips Part 2 is going to give you some more! Don’t get discouraged if prep takes you longer than anticipated, it is a trial-and-error process! Luckily, you don’t need to be a wizard in the kitchen to make meal prepping simpler and a more effective use of your time.
Start With A Clean Kitchen.
Empty the dishwasher, clean out the sink, start with a fresh trash bag. The easier it is for you to do the dishes and clean up while you cook, the faster it will go after you’re done cooking. (And the less hassle it will be!)
Expert tip: Use parchment paper to line all of your pans. You virtually won’t need to wash the pan when you’re done, just peel up the paper and throw it away!
You Don’t Need To Follow a Recipe.
Don’t be afraid to use individual, staple food items consistently throughout the week. You can choose the correct amount of each item to fit your macros for each meal, and combine different items with different seasonings to change things up.
For example: Chicken, pork, sweet potatoes and rice can be your staple protein and carbohydrate sources for the week. Combine in different varieties and add in additional fresh/frozen vegetables and seasonings to make it exciting!
Cook As Many Foods As You Can At Once.
Cooking multiple foods all at the same oven temperature? Figure out the foods that you can cook all at the same time and you’ve just cut your oven time down substantially. Batch cooking is easiest when you take advantage of foods that use the same (or similar) cooking temps, like roasting any kind of vegetable. Cut them into 1 inch pieces, toss them in oil, salt and pepper, and roast them on high heat (400-425 degrees). Smaller, less dense vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes) will need less time to roast (about 20-25 minutes), while more dense veggies (beets, potatoes, spaghetti squash) will take a bit longer (about 45 minutes- an hour). Set a few different timers on your phone and let the roasting commence!
Don’t Be Afraid to Take Short Cuts. Find The Easiest Way Out!
What to look for at the grocery store:
- Precut/pre-spiralized veggies, chicken that’s already cooked (rotisserie style or already prepared meals)
- Frozen foods. They are cheaper, they are normally precut, and they are packed with tons of nutrients because they’re frozen almost immediately.
- Fresh foods in season and freeze them for later use. Love the farmer’s market? Take advantage of seasonal foods! It is so easy to waste food if you buy it fresh and forget about it/don’t use it. There’s no reason to let food go bad if you have a freezer at your disposal!
Tip For Using Frozen Veggies:
You can either defrost them overnight or just throw them in a sauté pan when you’re ready to use them and let the ice be your cooking oil.
Same with meat- you can defrost it overnight in the fridge, or if you don’t have that much time to wait, you can put the frozen meat in the crockpot for a few hours. I’ve done this with chicken breast and it works great every time!
Use Your Slow Cooker.
Any and every kind of meat. Low and slow. Leave your house. Forget about it.
My weekly slow cooker go-to: Half Pork Loin + chili powder + italian seasoning + cumin + salt + pepper. Season the whole thing. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred and enjoy for up to a week!