How to Prep Your Meals for the Week and Save Time Cooking

If your life is anything like mine these days, life can certainly get hectic. Cooking a nice, healthy meal for the family at the end of the day only makes matters more complicated. Meal prepping ahead of time can make dinnertime much smoother, simpler, and less stressful. How do you get the upper hand on an entire week of meals without creating more chaos, though? The following tips can help you save time cooking with some easy meal prep.

How to Prep Your Meals for the Week and Save Time Cooking. Photo of happy family cooking together by August de Richelieu via Pexels.

Create a Game Plan to Save Time Cooking

First of all, you’ll need to choose a day to plan out your meals for the week. Deciding what to have for dinner each afternoon when the kids start saying they’re hungry can leave a lot of room for error. Creating a game plan in advance saves time and energy. Many people find that Saturdays or Sundays are the best days to plan their meals for the week because they’re less busy. If you operate on an unconventional schedule, though, you can modify your plan accordingly.

Be sure to account for proteins, veggies, sides, spices, aromatics, broths, and other ingredients you’ll need. If you rely on recipes, consult with them while you’re planning. Build a list of everything you’ll need so nothing gets left out when you’re shopping. Additionally, plan far enough ahead to allow yourself time to go grocery shopping for all those ingredients. 

Take Advantage of Ready-Made Ingredients

As you’re planning your meals and shopping for them, remember that there’s no harm in using ingredients that make life simpler. Some examples here are ready-to-use garlic, frozen chopped onions, and canned tomatoes. What works best for you and helps you out the most will depend on the foods your family likes and the meals you choose. Ingredients like these will definitely save you a great deal of time and energy.

Big Batches and Repurposing

Another helpful trick is to make big batches of foods so you can stretch them out into multiple meals. For example, you could bake a nice, big batch of herbed chicken one night. Let the chicken stand on its own as a protein that night, and refrigerate the leftovers. A couple nights later, shred or chop the leftovers and use them to make chicken salad for sandwiches.

Another night, you could fry a double batch of ground beef. Use half of it for spaghetti, and save the rest to make tacos later in the week. Those are only a couple of possibilities. Any number of items can be cooked in big batches and repurposed later on. 

The Slow Cooker Is Your Friend

When you’re planning your meals for the week, the slow cooker should absolutely come into play. It’s a terrific tool for simplifying meal time. All you have to do is put all your ingredients into the crock in the morning and let them cook. There are no complicated directions to follow. As a general rule, no matter what you’re making, just set the slow cooker to low for eight hours or high for four hours. At the end of the day, your meal is ready.

It’s a great option for particularly busy days or those when you wake up knowing you’re not going to have the energy to cook when you get home. You can let your creativity run wild with slow cooker meals, too. Besides that, they’re one-dish meals, so cleanup couldn’t be simpler. 

How to Prep Your Meals for the Week and Save Time Cooking. Photo of happy family cooking together by August de Richelieu via Pexels.

Making Mealtime Fast and Simple

Planning ahead for a week’s meals can make mealtime much faster and simpler. Setting aside a specific time each week to sit down and plan and being thorough are the keys to success. Beyond that, you can use pre-chopped, ready-made ingredients to simplify meal prep. Make big batches of foods and repurpose them later in the week to further simplify the process. Use the slow cooker to your advantage as well. Perfecting your meal-prepping skills will take time and practice, but it’ll certainly pay off in the long run.

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