25 Super Easy Tips to Save Time While Preparing Meals
07 Nov 2023
You might know that meal prep helps you save money and eat healthier in the long run, but it can also take lots of time. At first glance, it seems like you have to find space in your already-busy schedule to prepare meals. This simply doesn't match the convenience of ordering out. But it's easier than you think to save time preparing meals, especially if you use these time-saving tips to become more efficient in the kitchen.
5 meal planning tips to save time
1. Know your food goals
The types of recipes you include in your meal plan often depend on your goals. For example, an athlete's plan would likely differ from someone solely trying to lose weight. Having an objective in mind helps guide your meal choices to the foods that best help you achieve it. You'll deliberate less over what should be on your menu, making your planning much more efficient.
2. Plan meals ahead of time
Try to arrange an entire week's meals at once for the most cost-effective and efficient meal planning. Knowing what you'll have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner helps set your grocery list and minimize impulse buying, whether you're planning on having veg food or a mix of different meal types. As a result, you'll spend less time and money in the grocery store.
3. Find recipes that share ingredients
Finding meals that share ingredients between them means you'll buy less food while getting the most out of each item. You'll both spend less time in the grocery store and make sure that nothing you buy goes to waste.
4. Include foods that you love
When trying to eat healthier, many people deprive themselves of meals and snacks they love because they're often not as healthy. But refusing all your favorite foods makes sticking to a healthier meal plan much more challenging. Including junk food as an occasional treat can keep you from potentially deviating from your plan.
5. Collaborate on your meal planning
Deciding on your meal plan with a partner or roommate can help you save time on picking what you'd like to eat. This can also introduce you to food you've never tried before, potentially leading to new favorites you can use in future meal plans.
Enjoy fresh, delicious ready-to-eat meals delivered to your home.
20 tips to save time preparing meals
1. Find passive cooking recipes
One way to save time in the kitchen is to find recipes that use passive cooking tools such as slow cookers, ovens, or a pressure cooker-type device like an Instant Pot. This way, you can cook more without needing to look after everything, leaving you free to take care of other things or just relax.
2. Cook multiple ingredients in the same pan
Certain ingredients heat and cook at similar speeds, so you can throw them together in one pan or pot. Starchy root vegetables, for example, pair well with lean proteins like chicken. When you cook them together, they might be ready for you to plate at the same time.
3. Use pre-prepped foods
Cutting and chopping ingredients can take up lots of your time in the kitchen, but maybe your schedule doesn't allow for that level of prep. Many home chefs use food processors to handle this, but you don't need fancy devices here. Buying pre-prepped foods such as frozen vegetables, cooked rotisserie chicken, or home-delivered meals can also save time.
4. Label your food
Putting labels on all the ingredients or prepped food in your fridge can considerably reduce your meal prep time. Knowing what everything is at a glance means less time scrounging for the necessary ingredients and more time spent cooking your meals.
5. Organize your fridge
Have a clear place for every sort of ingredient in your fridge, and periodically remove any food past its expiration date. Doing so can make it easier to find the ingredients you need while making the meals you store look more enticing.
6. Prepare fresh produce as soon as possible
Once you're back from the grocery store, wash, dice, and slice any produce you bought as soon as you can, then store it. Preparing fresh fruit and vegetables beforehand can make you more likely to eat them before going bad. It also saves you time when you're ready to cook.
7. Double your protein
Proteins often take the longest to cook, so you can prepare extra on your meal prep days to have them ready on meal prep days. Foods such as chicken, red meat, and eggs can last three to four days if properly cooked. This gives you plenty of time to use them in a different recipe.
8. Make enough for leftovers
If you'd rather not meal prep for the week and instead cook night-of, try to make extra portions of your meal. Storing any leftovers ensures you have home-cooked meals ready for the next day.
9. Repurpose your ingredients
Find recipes with simple ingredients you can repurpose for later in the week. For example, if you use some chicken for salad, you can use any leftover meat for a stir fry or pasta dish.
10. Make dinners you can freeze
Some recipes take well to being frozen, which means you can have ready-made meals waiting for you at any time. Cooking large, freezer-friendly meals such as lasagna or chili can keep you fed until it's time to make another bulk dish.
11. Pull out all the ingredients you'll need
When you're ready to cook, don't go back and forth between your counter and fridge pulling out ingredients. Taking out everything you need beforehand can save tons of time when prepping a meal.
12. Cook meals early
You know your schedule best, and you can follow it more efficiently if you prepare certain meals the day before. For example, after finishing dinner, prep a simple breakfast you can grab while heading out the door in the morning.
13. Always have snacks on hand
If you cook your own snacks, preparing a big batch to last the whole week or month can save extra time. You can also take some time preparing snacks by separating smaller portions of a bigger container of snacks into containers or bags that you can keep handy.
14. Store liquid ingredients in ice cube trays
Freezing liquid ingredients such as pesto or stock in ice cube trays can help you control how much you add to a dish. That means less time spent measuring out the right portions.
15. Keep an inventory
List and track every ingredient in your fridge, freezer, or pantry so you know what you need when you go grocery shopping. Keeping a running tally of your food makes creating a shopping list that much easier.
16. Cook a week's worth of meals on one day
If you know you'll be busy with a million other things during the week, take advantage of your free time and meal prep for the future. When you get hungry, you won't have to interrupt your schedule with hours of cooking.
17. Always have the basics on hand
Keep a well-stocked stash of ingredients you use often so you always have something to cook. This can include staples such as rice, potatoes, eggs, canned beans, bread, condiments, and various meats.
18. Don't bite off more than you can chew
Meal prep can take up a lot of the day, especially if you're new to it. Having food ready for the whole week definitely has its benefits, but prepping more than you can handle may lead to wasting time and food. Start small and prep meals for the next two or three days. Then, work up to a week, and then a month, as you get used to the process.
19. Alter your meals when you need to
If you're missing an ingredient for a recipe, don't spend time and effort ordering it. Recipes are simply guidelines, so there's no harm in substituting whatever ingredients you have on hand.
20. Use ingredients that cook faster
Some ingredients cook faster than others, so finding recipes that use them makes for a quickly-prepared meal. Fast-cooking ingredients include scallops, shrimp, thinly cut steaks or pork chops, bell peppers, and bok choy.
Skip the meal prep entirely with Meal Village
While meal prep can make for faster meals, the quickest meal you can get is one prepared by Meal Village. Choose from our wide variety of meal options, and our expert chef team will prepare your selection with only the freshest locally-sourced ingredients. Our meals are cooked the same day they're delivered - just heat them up to enjoy a delicious dish with no chopping, cooking, or cleaning. Browse the Meal Village menu now to get started.
Enjoy fresh, delicious ready-to-eat meals delivered to your home.
Start Your Meal Delivery in Chicago Today
Now that you're on board with the many delicious, healthy and convenient benefits of meal delivery services, do yourself a favor and try our ultra-fresh chef-prepared meals today. There's no subscription or commitment required, and we're always here for you with daily delivery.
And our menu is always changing, so be sure to check out what's cooking this week.
*Visit MealVillage.com or download the Meal Village app