Getting the food from the kitchen and onto the plate can be an ordeal – especially when you’ve just come in from a hard day at work. It’s the hassle of prepping a real meal when your whole body just wants to relax that can unhinge even the most dedicated dieter.
That’s why we’ve put together 6 meal prep hacks that can simplify the process, saving you time and energy. These food hacks are built around the idea of meal prepping, the smart way to take all the hassle out of eating.
Meal Prep Hack No. 1:
Have the Right Equipment: You’ll be cooking large food quantities so it pays to have large size trays, pots and pans. The larger the tray, the more food it will hold.
To weigh out your foods for portion control, make sure that you’ve got a good pair of measuring scales. You also need to ensure you’ve got plenty of food storage boxes. Make sure that they are durable enough for constant use and need to be freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe. They should also be BPA free.
Meal Prep Hack No.2:
Set Aside Your Meal Prep Day: Choose the best day that fits your schedule to prepare the meals for the week ahead. You’ll need to set aside a couple of hours.
Many people find that Sunday morning works best for them. Make sure that you can work uninterrupted. If you can’t manage a full two hour prep session, you may choose to prep two or three times per week. By food prepping more frequently you have the opportunity to add variety to your meal.
Meal Prep Hack No. 3:
Select the number of meals to prep for the week: Will you go hardcore and prep breakfast, dinner and lunch or will you just go with lunch? Of course, the size of your fridge and freezer may be the deciding factor in how many meals you are able to prep.
Meal Prep Hack No. 4:
Write down your weekly menu and shop to it: Prepare a full weekly menu for the coming week on your food prep morning. Be sure to choose food that you like to eat and will enjoy eating. You should include the following quality sources of protein in your meals:
Your carbs should consist of sweet potato, quinoa, beans, chickpeas, brown rice, vegetables (lots of greens!) and salads.
Once you have completed your meal plan, you can generate a shopping list. When you have your ingredients, group them into the various meals that you’ll be making.
Tip: Don’t make big, elaborate recipes during your food prep sessions. Keep them relatively simple and things will go a whole lot more smoothly.
Meal Prep Hack No. 5:
Multi Task in the Kitchen: Develop a process where you have a lot of food cooking at the same time. Think of your food prepping process as an assembly line.
Cook as much as you can in the oven. That way you can set the timer and forget about it while you concentrate on other things. You can then get onto prepping your next dish or peeling and chopping vegetables.
Most people have three layers in their oven, so think about what else you can cook in there alongside your main dish. Just start with the item that takes the longest to cook. To ensure that nothing gets burnt you can set the timer on your mobile phone as well as your oven timer.
Meal Prep Hack No. 6:
Make Your Kitchen More Efficient: Organise your cupboards so that you can see everything at a glance. Store chopping boards and trays vertically so they are easier to get to. Use lazy susans for your oils and condiments. Use rubber draw liners to keep items in the draw in place.
But, I Don’t Have Time to Prep!
For those of you who just can’t buy out the couple of hours needed to prep here are three extra hacks to lighten your load at the end of the day:
Food Hack No.1:
Freeze Your Protein: Frozen is never as good as fresh, but keeping a supply of fish, chicken beast, turkey, lamb, beef and pork in the freezer – in meal portion sizes ready to pull out and defrost and then cook up can be a life-saver. In a pinch it can take the stress out of healthy meal search.
Food Hack No. 2:
Cook Grains/Legumes in Bulk: By cooking your grains ahead of time and keeping them in a plastic container in the fridge, you’ll be saving up to an hour of prep time each night.
Food Hack No.3:
Roast Vegetables in the Oven: Have a range of vegetables on hand that you can quickly cut up, add a little spice to and them throw in the oven. When you’re cutting up your veggies, prepare more than you’re going to serve for that one meal. In fact, if you can prep your vegetables for the entire week on a weekend day, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. Same thing when you’re cooking your vegetables. In fact here’s a new motto for you to cook by:
Cook once, eat two to three times.
De-stress for Success
By following through on the meal–planning and preparation hacks outlined above, you’ll be able take all of the stress out of weeknight eating. And less stress means that you’ll be far more likely to maintain your healthy eating regime, allowing you to fuel your muscles for recovery and growth.