This is my guide to easy meal prep.
If you’ve spent more than half a minute on Pinterest, no doubt you’ve seen article after article teaching you how to cook ahead, prep freezer meals, or cook only once a month.
There’s nothing really wrong with that. I’m all for it if that’s what works for you.
But me, I get super overwhelmed with it all. Spending an entire day cooking is not my idea of a good time. Those tutorials are great, but each of them usually involves cooking a bunch of meals that I’ve never made before and I don’t even know if my family will like.
I’m not about to spend all day cooking food that I’m not even sure my family will appreciate. Not to mention, it takes me a million times longer to cook a recipe when I’ve never made it before.
I’d much rather stick with what I know and what I know my family likes.
So rather than focusing on having a bunch of meals completely put together and ready to eat, I prep my food the lazy way!
Easy Meal Prep Idea #1: Freeze Ingredients!
There are lots of staple ingredients that I use often. Anytime I find myself in need of, say, cooked and shredded chicken, I’ll cook up the whole bag of frozen chicken in my pressure cooker. I shred it all at once, then separate it into freezable portions.
I usually cook up a 3 pound bag of chicken. Since I usually use about a pound in any given meal, I freeze it in one pound portions. I don’t get crazy about this and use a scale or anything. Just whatever looks about right. If we wind up having chicken pot pie with .8 pounds of chicken one day and 1.2 pounds of chicken in the next day’s enchiladas, we won’t die.
I’ll do the same thing with bell peppers and onions. Rather than dirtying a knife and cutting board each evening, I chop up several at a time and throw them in the freezer.
This way I save myself time and effort, as well as not letting as much food go to waste since it practically never goes bad in the freezer.
I love the freezer, it’s like a magical food time machine.
So when I go to make, say, this delicious chicken noodle soup, it makes my life so much easier!
Whereas before I would have started with frozen chicken, hauled out my pressure cooker to cook it with, made a huge mess of chopping onions. I would have cried my eyes out from the onion vapor, and dirtied all of those extra prepping dishes, too.
But with my new system, it’s as easy as pulling out my already portioned cooked chicken and and frozen, chopped onions, and plopping them both into the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients.
I’ve mentioned chicken, onions and peppers here, but you can apply it to most anything. You could cook up several pounds of ground beef all at once. I like to make and freeze cream of chicken to use as a base for various recipes I make as well.
Easy Meal Prep Tip #2: Freeze Leftovers!
The other thing that I will sometimes do is cook WAY more than what I know we will eat in one meal, plop half of it into a freezer bag and VOILA I’ve cooked dinner for two weeks from now with almost no extra effort.
That freezer is black magic, I tell you.
This works especially well for soups. You could do it with lasagna or other types of casseroles, but then you have to go to the trouble of assembling two separate lasagnas, as well as come up with a pan that you don’t mind being without for however long it takes you to decide to eat the second lasagna. But I still do it sometimes!
These tips takes a tiny bit more work on the front end, but save so much work and mental effort that those extra dinner prep steps require every day.
It’s also not as overwhelming as spending an entire day attempting to cook up multiple meals at once.
It’s the sneaky way to make meal prep easier. A meal prep hack, if you will.
Check out these other handy resources for easy meal prep ideas!
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