We could all do with a few more hours in the day, but as that’s not looking possible any time soon – try some of our time-saving tips here for getting healthy meals and snacks prepared faster.
Perfect for busy mums who are trying to lose pregnancy weight.
15 time-saving tips for meal preparation
1. Get everything out first
Whether you are throwing together a salad or preparing a week’s worth of snacks – have everything you will need out and ready to go first. This means ingredients and utensils.
You will save valuable time if you don’t have to hunt through drawers for measuring cups or a (clean) sharp knife.
2. Have plenty of plastic tubs on hand
Get yourself some good quality containers to use for storing chopped-up veggies or prepared meals ready to reheat. You could also use the take-away style containers if you prefer, as they stack well in the fridge and freezer.
3. Keep rice in the freezer
If you like brown rice but haven’t got half an hour to spare to cook it every time – keep some cooked rice in the freezer.
Next time you’re cooking some, make double or triple what you need and then pop into single-serve or family-sized containers.
When you need to use it, defrost in the microwave, fluff with a fork, and it’s good to go. Perfect to go with a curry or casserole, or even to use for a quick tuna salad or spicy fried rice. You can do the same with other grains such as quinoa.
4. Double batch everything
Get into the habit of never cooking a single family-sized portion of foods such as bolognese or a casserole. Always make double and freeze half for those crazy busy nights. Pop a piece of sticky tape on top and write what it is so that it’s not ‘freezer surprise’. Double batching can help save money too through bulk ingredient purchasing.
This means you also save on a night of cleaning up! You can also do this with meals like pasta bake – just freeze it cooked, then when you want to eat it just pop back in the oven until golden and bubbling.
Here are 8 perfect freezer-friendly family meals.
5. Cook dinner in the morning or at lunchtime
At about 5pm all around the country, the witching hour rears its ugly head, making dinner preparation rather difficult.
If this is the case for you, try getting into the habit of preparing the bulk of your dinner at another time. That might mean cooking your bolognese at lunchtime while the little ones rest or nap.
You might pop the slow cooker on at night time to make your casserole which you can reheat the next night.
6. Have snacks on hand
Rather than preparing a new snack for each morning and afternoon tea, prepare a big batch of snacks for the whole week.
Pop some muffins and some bliss balls in the freezer, and then you can mix it up with some fresh fruit or items from the fridge to give you a good variety of snacks without too much effort.
7. Make smoothie bags for the freezer
For those times when you just need to prepare something in a flash, you’ll save valuable time if you can just empty a bag into the blender with some liquid to mix.
Make zip-lock bags with enough fruit and mix-ins (such as oats, LSA, ice) for a single smoothie.
8. Prepare meat before you freeze it
Rather than freezing a bag of mince or a packet of diced beef, try freezing it already prepped with flavour and seasoning.
That might mean making meatballs to freeze (raw) using some chopped herbs, feta and a handful of breadcrumbs. Or popping your diced beef in a zip lock bag with all of the chopped veggies ready to go for a stir fry.
9. Use ice cube trays for add-ins
There are some things you only need a bit of to add loads of flavour, and these can be stored in the freezer after being frozen in ice cube trays.
Think pesto, wine, stock, coconut milk or even yoghurt for smoothies.
10. Use the 28 Day Challenge recipes in the Healthy Mummy App
The recipes on our 28 Day Challenge are made to be fast to prepare, without fiddly preparation required.
Use these instead of trying out loads of new recipes from cookbooks – our recipes have all been made assuming you’ve got a crying toddler on your hip.
11. Prepare vegetables for the whole week
If you are using the 28 Day Challenge meal plans, you will know in advance what you are eating for the week. If that’s the case, you can prepare some of the veggies ahead of time and just store for when you need it.
Get out your food processor and grate some cheese, cabbage, and carrot; chop your onions, garlic and capsicums; and slice those mushrooms so they’re ready to be cooked. Store in the fridge in a plastic tub.
12. Make breakfast a breeze
Some mornings you have time for cooking, other mornings you’ve just got to eat and go.
Prepare some healthy homemade muesli to keep on hand for those busy mornings. Just add a splash of milk and you’ve got breakfast ready to roll. Eating at work? Pack it into a jar and add milk in the office.
13. Keep an inventory list
It’s well worth knowing what you have on hand before you shop so that you don’t end up with 14 tins of tomatoes.
A simple way to know what you’ve got is to make a list and stick it inside your pantry door (for store cupboard staples) and one on your fridge (so you know what meat you have, what meals are in there to defrost, and how many bliss balls or muffins you have frozen for the week).
14. Let your slow cooker do the work
If you have a slow cooker, get into the habit of using it for nights that you know are going to be busy. You could throw some soup, Bolognese or a leg of lamb in there in the morning and then come home needing only to cook some pasta and make a salad.
15. Make a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday
Lunchtime is often another tough time to be prepping something, as the kids might be hungry too, or you might need to be settling them down to nap, or you might have a thousand loads of washing to put away.
Make life easier by having a couple of options for your lunch ready to go. It could be a big pot of soup (you could even freeze it in single-serve portions) for soup and toast for lunch; or some roast veggies all ready to eat which you can use to make a quick veggie salad with some crushed almonds and crumbled feta.
Once you’re all ready to get meal prepping for the week ahead try our tips for meal prep like a pro.
Find out how this Mum spent six HOURS prepping meals for 12 weeks & it cost under $500!
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