5 Ways To Cut Meal Prep Time In Half

Food Prep As the dog days of summer give way to the more regimented routines of back to school, we're all looking for ways to squeeze more hours out of the day.  The easiest way to give yourself an extra 30 - 60 minutes a day, is by changing the way you prepare for meals.  And the good news is, this will not only save you time, it will save money as well.  Read on to find out five things you can start doing today that will help you be more pulled together, reduce the time you spend in the kitchen, and save you money, all at the same time. Reduce Trips To The Store     On grocery day, buy what you will need for at least 2 weeks.  Buying for two weeks means fewer trips to the store and more time available for the things you want to do.  You will lose at least half an hour every time you run to the store.  Planning ahead and making fewer trips will free up a lot of time in your day. Buy Bulk     Buying in bulk has several benefits.  For example, you can buy 5 pounds of hamburger and and half a dozen onions.  When you bring the burger home from the store, fry it up in a pan with the chopped onions and then freeze in single-meal freezer bags to be used at your convenience.  The same is true for peppers, onions, carrots, celery, etc.  Chop them up and put them in a bag that equates to what you would use in one meal.  You can chop and freeze the veggies while you're cooking the ground meat. Do All Your Meal Prep At Breakfast     If you plan your meals for the day and do all your prep at breakfast, you will save yourself a lot of time.  First, you only have one real mess to clean up.  You're not getting things out and putting them away constantly.  You make the mess and do the cooking once, and you're done for the day. Second, you can make casseroles ahead and put in the fridge so all someone has to do is throw it in the microwave at dinner time.  When you're done eating, put the leftovers in a bag and put it in the fridge.  It doesn't get any easier than that.  That also works well if you're working late and your children will be home before you.  Whomever gets home first puts the meal in the microwave o the oven so it's ready when everyone else gets home. Utilize The Crock Pot     Slow cookers are a great time saver.  You don't have several pans to wash, you don't have to stand over the stove for an hour, you just put the ingredients in the cooker and whenever someone gets home its ready to eat.  Another great thing about slow cookers is that it generally doesn't matter when you take the food out.  If you're an hour early or and hour late, your food is not going to be ruined.  If you're running kids from soccer practice to music lessons to dance recitals, it's nice to know your food will be ready and waiting when you get home, and that it won't be ruined if you get stuck in traffic. Enlist The Troops     If you have children or a spouse, enlist them in meal prep.  Let everybody know that when you get home from the store on grocery day it's going to be all hands on deck to help you get the food prep work done and the single meal sized bags in the freezer and ready to use.  30 - 40 minutes every couple of weeks is not too much to ask for something that will make all of your lives simpler. Conclusion:     It's pretty obvious that there is no time savings without proper, prior, planning.  But it should also be obvious that if you'll take 30 minutes every couple of weeks to get things planned, you'll be buying less pizzas and McDonalds for dinner and preparing more wholesome, healthy meals for your family.  Buying in bulk saves money.  Eating out less frequently saves money.  Eating healthier food at home reduces days of work lost to sickness, which saves you money.  And all those things also save you a great deal of stress and frustration. If you're not planning ahead, get online and see what type of meal planners there are.  And think about how much of each of those meals could be prepared in advance and frozen. For example, if you wanted spaghetti one night, you could put a pound of your ground beef and onion mixture in a bag and into the freezer.  A bag of fresh chopped broccoli could go in right next to it.  A frozen baguette of garlic bread next to that. To prepare, in one pan warm the meat, dump in a bottle of Ragu, a can of tomatoes and sprinkle some fresh basil, thyme and rosemary in with it and you've got a great spaghetti sauce.  Cook the broccoli in a separate pan and thaw the baguette.   Just cook noodles and you're done.  You could open a bag of mixed greens and top with your favorite dressing.  Start to finish the whole meal in less than 15 minutes.  Three pans and a bowl to wash  It doesn't get any easier or any cheaper than that. Start planning your meals today and start preparing for them the day you get home from the supermarket.  You'll find you have more time, more money, and more energy.  It's not hard and once you start, you'll wonder how you ever did without it. If you have ideas how to save time in the kitchen, list them in the comments below.  We'd love to hear how you do it.

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