Genius Meal-Prep Tricks For Easier Weekdays
It may be called "Meal Prep Sunday," but that doesn't have to mean "Meal Prep All Day Sunday." Setting aside time on one day to cook so you can eat healthily all week is supposed to make your life easier, but it doesn't have to be a day-long event.
Anyone who has ever meal prepped before is probably rolling their eyes. This concept of "quick" meal prep is easier said than done—especially when your game plan is to ready enough food to last you through the week. The thing is: we all know the time spent is worth it.
Meal prep saves you money and time (yes, all-in you do end up saving time), it can help you eat a healthier diet (you'll be ordering less takeout), and it can support your sanity (you'll avoid last-minute decisions about what to eat or having to rush through cooking a meal in time before you explode with hunger).
So how can you get meal prep done in a reasonable number of hours? We're here to help. We rounded up the best hacks that cut down on the time you have to spend meal prepping. These genius meal prep tricks are perfect for quickly whipping up some healthy food for the week ahead with minimal effort involved.
Stock up on pre-portioned pistachios for snacks.
When it comes to meal prep, it's just as important to put together snacks to eat throughout the week as it is to put together meals. If you want to save as much time as possible, let someone else take the load off and portion your snacks for you! We highly recommend grabbing a box of Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Variety Pack. They are easy protein on-the-go packs (with no work) and are bursting with flavor. And it will be a better solution than pre-portioning snacks yourself!
Buy baby-sized veggies.
Think small to save big chunks of time. Simply opting to buy baby carrots instead of whole carrots, Persian cucumbers (also called "mini" cucumbers) instead of English cucumbers, and baby peppers instead of whole bell peppers can save you from having to peel and chop these raw veggies from scratch. That way all you have to do to eat them is pull them out of the fridge along with your favorite plant-based dip and enjoy!
Let your food processor do the chopping.
You have a food processor—why not use it?! This kitchen gadget helps you whip up sauces (like a pistachio basil pesto) in no time, bringing flavor and color to just about any dish.
A food processor is also helpful when it comes to chopping nuts and veggies. Throw a handful of pistachios into the processor and blitz them up so you have some chopped nuts to quickly add flavor and crunch to veggies, salads, oatmeal, and more.
Need to make a mirepoix for a soup or saute? Chopping up all those onions, celery, and carrots can take almost half an hour. But tossing all the ingredients in the food processor takes seconds! Also, if you need to chop up a bunch of garlic cloves for meal prep, using a food processor is a great alternative to using a knife.
Prep parts rather than the whole meal.
While it may sound enticing to prep a dish at a time, doing so can limit your meal choice options. Instead, if you prepare components of meals—lentils there, quinoa here, roasted veggies there—you can put them together in new and exciting ways throughout the week. That way, you don't get tired of eating the same thing over and over again. Plus, you have the option of using these ingredients in breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. (You may not want to eat baked ziti for breakfast, would you?)
Lean on slow-cooker or pressure-cooker soups.
Taking a hands-off approach to meal prep is a great time saver. By "hands-off," we mean to say let your appliances do the work for you! Slow cookers and pressure cookers are great appliances to lean on when you want to get a few different foods prepared on meal prep day. Start by picking any of the 50 Best Slow Cooker Recipes or 30+ Healthy Instant Pot Recipes. Set your appliance of choice up with the ingredients you need, and then forget it! Now you can spend your time working on other meal prep projects.
Pre-portion smoothie ingredients.
Hate having to spend the time measuring out a dozen fixings for your morning smoothie? Save time by buying the ingredients in bulk (bags of frozen strawberries, bunches of bananas, pounds of spinach, a package of Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Lightly Salted), portioning them out into bags, and then freezing them. So next time you need a smoothie, dump that bag in a blender for a quick and easy breakfast!
Be selective with the veggies you choose to cook.
Make the most of your meal prep by picking the right veggies. Certain vegetables are better suited to being cooked and stored than others. For example, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts); root vegetables (like potatoes, parsnips, and carrots); thick-skinned vegetables (like peppers); and alliums (like onions and garlic). Avoid cooking delicate veggies like tomatoes and zucchini in advance as they may end up going to waste, and leave them for preparing the day-of.
Cook things whole.
Don't bother dirtying up a cutting board and a knife—simply place your vegetable of choice on a pan and toss it in the oven! Plenty of vegetables that you typically cut up can be cooked whole (it just takes a little longer). Once they're cooked and ready to go, you can simply cut them up when it's time to eat them.
Make frozen vegetables your friends.
Farm out your knife work to the farms that package your frozen foods. The freezer aisle is stocked with frozen fruit and vegetable options that have the hard work of chopping already done for you. There are diced peppers, sliced green beans, crinkle-cut carrots, and more. You can use these in soups, saute them on their own, or even roast them for optimal flavor.
Store everything in clear containers.
You've painted your masterpiece, now don't you want to take a step back to admire your work? If you hide away the fruits of your labor in opaque containers, you may forget about what you prepped one or two days on. Making sure to store everything that's ready to eat in clear glass, plastic, or silicone containers will help you keep stock of what you have while also serving as a reminder to eat the healthy food you prepped!
More content from Healthy Eating
- – The Best & Worst Cuts of Steak—Ranked by Nutritional Benefits!
- – Here's Why There May Be Poop In Your Lunch
- – Here's When It's OK to Eat Moldy Food—And When It's Not
- – 15 Cooking Tips We've Learned From Ina Garten
- – 50 Kitchen Safety Dos & Don'ts Everyone Needs to Know
- – The Worst Chicken Cooking Mistakes You Should Never Make
- – 30 Cooking Tricks They Only Teach You in Culinary School
- – 10 Foods You Didn't Know You Could Freeze, But Totally Should