With the holiday season approaching, life can get pretty hectic. From decorating your house to carving pumpkins and creating holiday shopping lists, it could feel like you’re always running out of time. If you’re not an avid cook and don’t enjoy spending hours in the kitchen, skipping out on meals and ordering takeout might become your new norm during this time.
Luckily, I have a perfect solution for that. Welcome to the world of meal prepping! But before you begin to make excuses about how time-consuming it is, I’m going to share some of my best tips to make your next meal prep a breeze.
Here are the best meal prep tips for less holiday stress.
1. Make a List
The most important tip is the first place you should start: write out your menu. It’ll save you from having those “what’s for dinner” nights and ensure you don’t waste any forgotten food in the fridge. Like that bag of lettuce that went bad in the fridge – you know what I’m talking about. You likely didn’t have a plan to use it, so it was forgotten and wilted before you could use it.
Next, break that menu down into a shopping list. As you do, place a check next to all the foods that can be prepped ahead of time. When you do this, you’ll have a good idea of how much time to set aside for meal prep. And it will help you decide whether you should do all the prep work at once or tackle it over a couple of days, for example, once at the beginning of the week and the other mid-week.
2. Create Space in Your Fridge
How many times have you gone to the supermarket and come home to find there’s no room in the fridge to put it all? Avoid this mishap by checking your fridge first. Toss anything beyond its expiration date or that you no longer need. While you’re at it, check your pantry, too. You may find you already have some of the ingredients on your list as you look through both.
3. Double Up
When possible, double up. Whether it’s an entire recipe or a single food, you can save time and effort by cooking twice as much. For a whole recipe example, say you plan to cook your favorite taco recipe. Rather than making just one, cook two. Then eat tacos a couple of nights a week or save some in the freezer for another night.
The same goes for single foods like roasted or steamed vegetables. Take Brussel sprouts, for example. If you ordinarily roast enough for four servings, instead, make eight. You’ll have plenty to eat as a side to go with several meals throughout the week.
Some great foods to double up on include soup, salads, roasted chicken, baked salmon, and cauliflower rice.
3. Divide and Conquer
As you unload the groceries, divide everything up to figure out what needs to be washed, chopped, seasoned, or stored. For the most part, these are the thing that will go in the fridge or freezer until you need them.
Vegetables can be washed, chopped, and stored in bags or containers. Here are some tips to follow.
- Clean and cut up greens. Most will stay fresh for up to 3 days.
- Peel and chop garlic, onion, and shallots. These can be stored for up to 5 days.
- Chop up hard vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and squash and store for up to 5 days.
Meats and seafood can be seasoned or marinated then put in air-tight containers. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- Anything you cut and season for a meal you’ll make the following day can go into the fridge.
- Meats and seafood that you plan to use more than a day out should go into the freezer then thawed a day before you need them.
You don’t need to be a magician to master the art of multitasking in the kitchen. You just need to be good at juggling. If you can prep two or three things at the same time, you’ll save loads of time. Here are some things you can multitask.
- Do double time by roasting a pan of vegetables while also roasting a pan of chicken.
- Put a pot of grains on to boil, and while you’re waiting for it to cook, whip up a sauce in another pan.
- Cut up your fresh fruit and vegetables and separate them into containers while you wait for your meat to bake.
5. Clean as You Go
The last thing you want to see after a meal prepping session is a mountain of pots, pans, and dishes you still have to clean. Save yourself the horror by cleaning up after yourself as you go. Place what you can in the dishwasher and wash everything else as you finish using it.
Less Stress for the Holidays
Mike Murdock once said, “The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”
Once you figure out your perfect meal-prepping routine, it will no longer feel like a chore. And you can reap all the benefits. Meal prepping allows you to properly nourish your body with your favorite recipes as well as new recipes that will make your taste buds tingle. It can also save you money by eating at home and wasting less food.
But most importantly, during the holiday season, it can make your life a little less hectic. And it can help minimize holiday stress. Start by implementing the tips in this post and check out my other blog posts for more inspiration.