So many of us dread our weekly meal prep days, and… rightfully so. Spending 6 hours in the kitchen isn’t usually my idea of a good time. What if I told you there’s a few tricks you can use to get you in and out of there faster, spend more time doing the things you actually want to do on a Sunday (like, Netflixing the whole series of Making a Murderer), AND make your upcoming week more convenient?Well, I’ve got news for you. If you want to call a blog article news, anyway. Here I’m giving you my top 5 time-saving tips for making meal prep quicker and your week run smoother.
This post is sponsored by Veggie Noodle Co. I’m happy to work with a company I love and use so often! Thanks for your support here on the blog and your support for Veggie Noodle Co.!
1. Appliance Multitasking
HELLO! If you aren’t using every single appliance that cooks food in some way, shape or form at the same time, you are wasting precious minutes, my friend! One of the best ways to get the most out of the time you spend meal prepping is to first get your oven going, gather up your slow cooker recipe ingredients and dump them in, move over to the instant pot and fire it up and then get to work on a stovetop recipe. In that order.
Starting veggies in the oven for roasting and getting your slow cooker started first is best because they take the most time. Once your slow cooker is going, you can push that off to the side and out of the way. I like to then get my instant pot recipe started because more than likely, that will have a cook time of anywhere between 20-30 minutes, which just so happens to be the same cook time as many one pot 30-minute meals for the stovetop!
If your stovetop meal isn’t quite finished when the instant pot is, you can do a slow release and let it sit for a few minutes, letting you keep your attention on the stove. More than likely, if you’re roasting veggies, these should be done about the same time as well. BOOM! SO. MUCH. FOOD. is ready to get stashed away for the week.
2. Use Veggie Noodle Co. Organic Veggie Spirals
I save SO MUCH TIME in the kitchen on meal prep days by picking up Veggie Noodle Co. organic veggie spirals when I go on my grocery runs at Target or Whole Foods. When I’ve already got a weeks’ worth of meals to prep for, the last thing I want to do is drag out my spiralizer and spend tons of time doing hard labor trying to spiralize a butternut squash. Bonus: less dishes and tons of time saved on kitchen clean up! No, seriously, cleaning my spiralizer is a job in and of itself. All of those parts!
Having veggies already prepared in the fridge for the week (without any of the work!) makes life so much easier. I love having sweet potato noodle “hash browns” in the morning with scrambled eggs, and I love having a fresh and hot breakfast each morning. Having a package of Veggie Noodle Co. organic sweet potato spirals in the fridge IS the meal prep for breakfast! All you gotta’ do each morning is just pull out the amount of noodles you want from the Veggie Noodle Co. container – without pulling out your spiralizer each day.
These pre-spiralized lifesavers are also helpful for dinner meal prep. Pick up Veggie Noodle Co. organic zucchini spirals, a jar of marinara and you have dinner meals meal prepped in the time it takes to brown a pound of turkey or beef. No work and only 1 pan to clean up required. Having veggies in the fridge that are already prepared and waiting for you easily saves me well over a half hour of prep, if not more. Not counting time doing dishes. Yes, please.
Meals using spiralized veggies you can save time on by using Veggie Noodle Co. organic spirals:
- Chorizo Breakfast Meatballs
- Pad Thai Noodle Salad
- Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce and Butternut Squash Noodles
- Spicy Pork Meatballs and Sesame Noodles
3. Season Meat or Veggies 3 Ways Using One Pan
We all know that one of the drawbacks to meal prep is eating the same food day every day for a week straight. With this meal prep tip, you’ll keep things interesting and have different meat and veggies to add to a variety of meals. All you need is some spices, meat and veggies!
To do this, I like to chop up the veggies or dice the chicken quickly first, separate them out into their own bowls and then mix up the spices and roasting oil I’ll use. I’ll season one portion of veggies with an Italian spice blend, one with a taco spice blend and another with just garlic powder, salt and pepper. Once they’ve been coated with the oil and spices, just lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, ensuring to keep each group of veggies or meat separate.
This will come in so handy throughout the week to throw together salads, throw on top of Veggie Noodle Co. spiralized noodles, or just to create a quick ingredient meal for a weeknight dinner.
4. Bag Smoothies, One Pan Meals, and Slow Cooker Meals Ahead of Time
The whole reason to meal prep is to save time and make the rest of the week run smoothly, right? So instead of keeping ingredients for meals you’re going to make in the fridge until you make them, if you’ve put a slow cooker meal, a one pan meal or a smoothie in your meal plan for the week, make your life easier by bagging it up ahead of time in a gallon Ziploc baggie. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself four days from now on Thursday after you had a long day of work and would rather order pizza than spend 20 minutes that night prepping the ingredients for the dinner your family is impatiently waiting for you to cook.
Another reason this is on my list of top 5 tips is because during meal prep day, you most likely will have all of your groceries out on your counter anyway. Not only will all of the food be laid out in front of you, but you’ll already be using knives and cutting boards. I like prepping the meals I’m going to make later in the week into large baggies during this time so I don’t spend time later pulling everything I need out of the fridge again and create more dishes for myself again. Using this trick is awesome because you’re prepping the meal but still going to be eating a freshly made meal that doesn’t come out of a Tupperware container in a few days.
5. Section Your Fridge by Meal Time
This may be the last of the meal prep tips but it’s certainly not least. Once you’ve prepped the meals and ingredients you’ve made during your meal prep into their individual containers, make sure to organize your fridge in a way that will ensure they’re easy to get at when you need to rush out of the door for work. I like to section my fridge by meal time, creating distinct areas for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.
I’ll put my Veggie Noodle Co. organic sweet potato spirals, breakfast meat like bacon I’ve already oven cooked, and my carton of eggs in one area, all of my meal containers for lunch in another, and dinners I’ve either prepped into containers or bagged for fresh meals in another. I’ll also make sure I have a space for the ingredients I’ve prepped with salad greens next to them for easy access to quick salads. Knowing where everything is, having an organized system in place and placing things that need to get eaten sooner closer to the front in their individual sections will save you time and be super convenient when your week is in full swing.
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be a 6-hour ordeal and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or daunting. By implementing these tips and tricks you’ll take the stress, extra effort and hopefully a few dirty dishes out of your meal prep day. As much as I love cooking, I love making easy meals that don’t require tons of time in the kitchen even more. I hope these tips help you spend more time doing the things you love like they’ve helped me!
Got another meal prep tip you can’t live without? Let me know down below!
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