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How to Make the Most of the Time You Spend Preparing Meals

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Linsay ThomasGuest Blogger
August 07, 2016 · 1.9k Views

Chances are, you don’t have a lot of time to make dinner when you get home from work. Spending an hour cooking a meal – and then cleaning up afterward – just doesn’t seem appealing after spending eight hours at work and maybe another hour or two fighting traffic. So you end up picking up something on your way home or resort to quick and easy junk food you have lying around the kitchen.

This isn’t a healthy way to live your life. Dinner should be more exciting and healthier. But how can you enjoy a nutritious meal on what little time you have? It’s all about optimizing your shopping trips and food preparation so you can home to a delicious home-cooked meal. Try these food preparation tricks that will save you time and money during the week.

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1. Plan ahead.

Source: iTunes Store

Before you set foot into the grocery store, start planning your meals for the entire week. If this seems like a daunting task, an app such as MealPlan ($5.49, for iPad and iPhone) can help by providing a calendar system that makes meal planning a breeze. Think about healthy meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but consider foods that you enjoy and will eat. When coming up with meal ideas, it’s good to focus on ingredients and recipes that can be easily frozen, so you can make them ahead of time and then simply thaw and reheat.

2. Get a crockpot.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, now’s the time to get one. This might seem like an ancient device, but it’s actually a very useful appliance that will save you time. You can use a crockpot to cook soups and stews as well as cook a variety of vegetables and meats. You can leave it on all day while you’re at work and come home to a warm, delicious and nutritious meal.

3. Make one big shopping trip.

Source: The Odyssey Online

Once you have come up with your meal ideas for the week, look through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry and see what ingredients you have and what you need. Jot down the items you need onto your shopping list so you don’t forget them. When you’re ready, the next step is to make one big trip to the store. You may prefer smaller trips throughout the week, but this simply wastes time. You’re busy enough during the week, plus that’s just more time you’re wasting waiting in line.

4. Consider buying in bulk.

Buying larger quantities at one time can save you time at the grocery store. Plus, you can save money over buying individual units of food. Just make sure you buy ingredients you’ll use. Otherwise, you end up throwing away food – and hard-earned cash.

5. Make your meals ahead of time.

Source: Meal Prep Society

Once you have made your big shopping trip, set aside a few hours to start prepping your meals. Cut up the meat and vegetables. Get the lasagna and casseroles ready. Check your recipes and prepare as much as you can on the weekends so you have minimal prep when you get home at night.

6. Keep your freezer stocked.

When it comes to meal prep, take advantage of your freezer. Your freezer is a great place to store the meals you have prepped on the weekends. Invest in some glass cookware and containers with lids. Once you have your meals ready, just pop them in the freezer and you have an instant dinner. Keep your freezer stocked with easy breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week and you’ll always have a meal ready. Just pop in the microwave and enjoy!

7. Make extras.

Source: Popsugar

It’s easy to double many recipes so you can freeze extras. This goes for soups, stews, casseroles and lasagnas. Make enough so you have multiple servings ready whenever you need a quick meal. It’s also good to have extra food on hand in case you had an extremely busy week and didn’t make as much food as you usually do. Just take a quick look in your fridge and pick something that you made previously.

8. Food delivery.

As a last resort, you can choose food delivery. Maybe cooking just isn’t your thing, or maybe you just wanted to try something new. There are food delivery services such as GrubHub that can bring meals right to your door. This can get pricey if done on a regular basis, but it will save you time and may be worth it to you if you prefer convenience over cost.

9. Save time and money, and eat well!

Source: The Every Girl

Food prep may seem complex and time-consuming at first, but it’s well worth it in the long run. You make your own food, so you know all the ingredients you’re consuming. You end up avoiding fast food, so you’re saving money and making healthier choices for you and your family. You can involve the entire family in food prep and spend quality time together. It’s a win-win!


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Linsay Thomas is a seasoned writer and editor who has written thousands of articles about topics such as saving money, healthcare, law, pets and education. She hails from California, where she lives with her husband, two children and a menagerie of pets. When she's not writing, she enjoys sports, breeding chocolate Labs and visiting the beach.

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