An overseas family holiday had long felt like a pipe dream. With young kids,…
If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of meal prepping. It’s an act of kindness for your future self — weekdays can get crazy, and having to think of what to make when you’re busy and tired is a special kind of torture! I can’t overstate this enough: meal prepping makes the entire week easier, smoother, nicer, better. And because we love a hack, let’s hack our meal prepping — yes, I’m hacking the hack! — with some time-saving tips to really streamline this whole ‘must eat three meals a day every day for the rest of our lives’ thing.
- Schedule time: The easiest way to make meal prepping a habit is to choose a time every week, write it in your planner, and stick to it. We shop and meal prep on Sundays, but choose whatever works for you. The more ingrained the habit, the easier and faster actually doing the habit becomes.
- Plan ahead: Plan your meals for the week ahead — breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Be thorough — this is your blueprint. Without a blueprint, you’ll find yourself missing ingredients and unsure of what needs to be eaten when. Prepping is faster with a plan.
- Write a list: Keep a list on the fridge and snap a pic before you hit the shops. Or, if you prefer click ‘n’ collect or delivery, add things to cart as they pop up and check out at the end of the week.
- Fridge + pantry organisation: Your meal prep will be virtually useless if your fridge and pantry are a bomb site. Trust me, I’ve been there! A good cleanout and organisation will allow you to start off on the right foot, and save time in future. Head here for how I organise our fridge, and here for our pantry/kitchen.
- Containers and labels: Clear glass containers are amazing for seeing what you have at a glance and keeping things fresh. Use labels if you have non-see-through containers or bags, and write expiry dates or ‘prepared on’ dates on the container with a whiteboard marker.
- Batch cook: I like to make protein and snacks in batches, which we can then use through the week and/or make extra and freeze for later. Things like shredded chicken, Mexican beef, meatballs, boiled eggs, muesli bars, muffins. You could also do this with pasta sauce and pesto.
- Make ahead: Some meals work well cooked entirely ahead of time and reheated later; things like lasagne, curries, soups, casseroles, pasta bakes. I don’t do this much anymore, as I prefer flexibility with ingredients, but it is a great weekday time-saver. Choose meals with overlapping ingredients that can be cooked simultaneously for faster prep time.
- Wash and chop: Chuck all your fruit and veg into the sink with water and a glug of white vinegar, then wash, rinse and dry. It’s so easy to do all at once, then just chop and separate into containers for quick access through the week.
- DIY meal kits: If you intend to cook each night, measure out the ingredients for each recipe ahead of time and store together, so you can literally just grab, cook and serve. This works great for things like breakfast smoothies as well — freeze ingredients in a zip-lock bag and pop in the blender with your liquid.
- One ingredient, several ways: I love to get several uses out of my ingredients. Things like shredded chicken can be used in salads, sandwiches, wraps and pizzas; boiled eggs can be used on rice cakes, in salads, or on their own; boiled potatoes can be baked, mashed, used in salads, or just as a side with a little butter and fresh parsley or spring onion.
- Buy pre-made: There is absolutely no shame in buying pre-made, especially if you’re time-poor. Barbecue chicken, bagged salad, microwave rice, frozen veggies, frozen fish, grated and sliced cheese are all so helpful, and butchers and supermarkets have a great selection of heat-and-eat meals these days too: quiches, curries, enchiladas, stir-fries, etc.
- All at once: Choose recipes that use different cooking methods so you can have several ingredients on the go at once — oven, slow cooker, pressure cooker, Thermomix, stovetop.
I hope this helps you and your family reduce stress and eat well! Let me know how you go, and share any tips of your own on socials #stephpase #stephing.