So, you’re a busy single mother, a full time student with a job, or an overwhelmed business owner who can’t catch a break..or maybe you’re all three! This one is for you! You know you need to start meal prepping in order to maintain your health and sanity with your crazy schedule, but you just can't seem to find the time to do it. I hear this problem from many of my customers, which is why they come to me to have their meal prep done for them. But let’s be real, not everyone can afford the luxury of having a meal prep service do all the hard work for them. So you think you’re too busy to meal prep? Well then, you’re doing it wrong! If time is what’s preventing you from reaching your goals, I’m about to smash that excuse into oblivion. With a combination of modern technology and smart planning, I’ll show you how you can cut your meal prep time in HALF, or more, with these five strategies.
1. Download the Instacart app!!! DO IT!
If you haven’t heard of Instacart, allow me to expand your world! This nifty new company is the best thing since sliced bread and has taken off with amazing success in the past year. Shop online at your favorite grocery stores through the app, and a personal shopper will go and shop for you and deliver your groceries right to your door for a small delivery fee. Or you can sign up for a membership and get FREE unlimited deliveries for just $10/month! According to my Instacart account, which I started using at the beginning of the year, I have already saved 68 HOURS of shopping time! That breaks down to about 3.5 hours a week! The app even saves your purchased items for even faster ordering the next time!
2. Buy Frozen Vegetables.
Sometimes frozen produce get a bad rap for not being ‘fresh’, but this is a complete myth. Most times frozen produce is picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen which preserves nutrients. This means frozen produce can be even fresher than non-frozen produce, which has often been picked early and chemically ripened after being shipping halfway across the world. The best part about using frozen is that it cuts out two time-consuming steps; chopping and cooking. Frozen veggies requires NO cooking when adding to your meal prep. After being thawed they are soft enough to finish cooking when you warm your dish up in the microwave before eating. You may want to let them defrost first before adding them to your meal if you don’t want excess moisture in your food, however it’s not necessary. There’s also endless variety when it comes to frozen veggies. They have everything from the staples like broccoli and green beans, to fancy mixes and blends, to sneakier options like veggie pastas, and cauli-flower rice!
3. Buy pre-marinated and pre-cut meats.
Grocery stores are making it even easier on us now by offering several cuts and types of meat already seasoned and cut. You can now skip hours of marinating time, and purchase your meats ready to cook. Here are some commonly found pre-cut and/or pre-seasoned meats that are widely available:
- Seasoned and sliced carne asada or chicken for fajitas
- Stir fry beef
- Marinated diced taco meat
- Cubed stew meat
- Marinated turkey breast or pork tenderloin
- Taco or sausage seasoned ground turkey or chicken
- Seasoned chicken kabobs
Marinated salmon and tilapia filets
4. Stick to no-cook recipes.
This might be a trickier one, but you’ll find plenty of delicious no-cook recipes with a quick Google or Pinterest search, the most obvious of course being salads. You can even purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken or pre-hard boiled eggs to add for protein. Mason jar salads are easy to assemble and only take a couple minutes to throw together. Put your dressing on the bottom to prevent your salad from getting soggy and layer in your veggies, greens, protein, nuts and cheese on top, then just shake it up when you’re ready to eat it. Another one of my favorites (which is also available to purchase from my menu) is egg scramble cups, also known as mug eggs. Simply layer your choice of veggies, meat and cheese into a container, nestle two whole eggs on top, seal and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, crack in the eggs, put on the lid, give it a good shake, and pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Voila! You have a healthy egg scramble. Other no-cook ideas include overnight oats, chia pudding, protein shakes, tuna salad, egg salad, wraps, parfaits, and mason jar ramen (just add hot water!).
5. Schedule your meal prep into your calendar, and STICK to it!!
All the above tips will help significantly cut your prep time down, however it still takes some time! As a busy entrepreneur I know the struggle of trying to manage your daily to-do list. A neat trick that I’ve learned that’s helped me get more consistent and productive, is to throw away my to-do list! That’s right, just throw it away! Instead, SCHEDULE all the things you have to do that week into your calendar. Actually block out time for every task you need to get gone, whether it’s working out, taking the kids to practice, cooking dinner, or doing homework. By actually writing down your tasks into a schedule, you’ll be more likely to get everything done, less stressed since everything has it’s own dedicated time, and you’ll surprise yourself when you realize it all doesn’t take as much time as you thought. So schedule in a hour to plan your menu on Saturday, and schedule another 15 mins to put in your instacart order. Sunday morning schedule 1-2 hours to do your meal prepping for the week once your groceries are delivered. And don’t forget to schedule in your free time!
There you have it guys. Time is no longer an excuse to skip meal prepping. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated! As with any new habit, it will take more time in the beginning, but the more you do it, and the more it becomes your routine, the faster you’ll get! I’d love to know if these tips helped you, or if you have any other strategies for making meal prepping faster, so leave me a comment and share with me your ideas or results!