When you live in a busy household, or aren’t a very enthusiastic cook, preparing meals can be a frustrating chore. However, if you organise some things in advance, you can make meal times a breeze.
Great meal preparation begins with the right ingredients – so first of all, prepare a shopping list. Setting a block of time aside to shop and prepare means you remove a lot of the repetitive part of cooking, which is often the hard part.
Ideas for shopping and food prep planning may be as follows:
- Decide what it is you would like to eat for the week and what meals you would like to prepare. If you take lunch to work with you, you may decide to cook extra for dinner, and use the leftover amount as lunch the following day, thus cutting down your preparation time.
- If you don’t take lunch and are happy to eat leftovers, you could prepare three or four large meals per week and have them two nights in a row.
- Prepare a shopping list. If you are short of time, you can set up a regular online shopping and delivery order for the basics, and then you will only need to physically shop for a small amount of specific items.
- Once you have all the food you need for the week – set aside an hour or two to prepare it – plastic containers are your best friend here – you can chop and peel vegetables, separate large trays of meat or chicken are divide into individual servings or pre-mix marinades.
- Always take the opportunity to cook double and freeze half – this applied to main meals, biscuits, muffins, soups, pizzas or any food that can be frozen.
- When you are planning meals, use perishable foods such as salad greens as soon as possible after purchase, and leave vegetables like carrots, cabbage, or longer lasting ones until later in the week.
- If you buy a rotisserie chicken, use some as a roast dinner, then shred any leftover meat and use it the next night in a stir fry.
- Even if you live in a full household, try to freeze individual servings for times when only one or two people are home for a meal, or if they need something quick.
- Crumb any meat that needs it, make burger patties or meatballs out of mince or free-flow bulk purchases before freezing, for ease of use.
- If you find yourself getting bored, you could arrange a ‘food swap’ with a friend who also prepares their meals in advance.