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There are so many life hacks about how to save time and still create nutritious and delicious meals for a family, and not have to spend a whole day in the kitchen. But the meal prepping craze seems to have you doing just that. Is there a real system where you can prep for an entire week’s worth of meals without having every inch of your kitchen counters covered in mound of meat, veggies, and carbs and spending sun-up to sun-down slaving away?
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I am not a nutritionist or chef but I would still want to say “Oh YES, meal prepping saves the souls” of working mothers. Being a full time working mother of two growing children, I am always worried if I am providing enough nutrition to my kids. Meal prepping helps me in making sure that we have a healthy meal option available on the days when I cannot spare any time to cook.
I have developed my own ways of prepping food ahead of time. On weekends I do batch cooking, we eat one portion on that day and freeze one portion for future use. I also prep vegetables by cleaning, cutting, chopping and freezing them in zip lock bags. These frozen vegetables can significantly reduce cooking time while I still get to enjoy preparing fresh dinner. I also boil beans, chicken and prepare chicken broth ahead of time and freeze it.
Few recipes are completed in two or more steps. At times I try to get one step of cooking done ahead of time for example I fully cook minced meat and freeze it, on the day we want to eat it, I add vegetables / beans and fresh coriander to it.
I even freeze small portion bags of fruits and vegetables for very busy mornings. On such days I just make a smoothie and take it with me as a quick and healthy breakfast. We have very hot and long summers in our part of world, I always have lemon juice cubes and frozen bananas available for my children to make healthy and refreshing drinks.
I always keep experimenting with meal prepping. It’s fun and it saves time.
I'm a chef and I really despise meal prepping! I've tried lots of different methods and have found a few that work really well. Yes, freezer meals are a great way to go. The dump-and-go method is so easy and worth the work, in my opinion. In addition to a slow cooker, finding Instant Pot recipes are another great way to go!
Also, you can double up any recipe and freeze the extra servings. This avoids having to dedicate an entire afternoon to cooking meals that you won't actually enjoy that day. For example, while going through the work to make one lasagna, just make two and freeze the other. This is great for casseroles, soups, and chilis.
I've also found this book, Cook Once Eat All Week by Cassy Joy Garcia, very helpful. It's meal prep, but with a bit of variety and the prep itself does not take that long.
My favorite way to prep meals ahead of time is crockpot freezer meals. That way, you can make meals ahead of time and the food stays fresh for months. I found it easiest to make numerous batches of the same meals at once and put them in smaller-sized freezer bags. The next time that I made a stockpile, I chose a different freezer meal. That way there was always a variety to pick from in the freezer. Just pop a meal in the crockpot in the morning and voila, a hot tasty dinner with no effort. Although there are numerous online sites and recipes for freezer crockpot meals, I purchased a cookbook that I found to be very easy to follow and convenient. I ordered the book from Amazon: Make Ahead Freezer Meals for Slow Cooker Paperback – May 25, 2018 by Erin Chase (Author). I hope this method helps!