You’ll be amazed how these fast and easy meal prep ideas can save you so much time. Whether you want to prepare meals for the week or just a weeknight, you will like these tips. They’ll help you make quick dinners for your family even if you’re a beginner.
Cooking can be a lot of fun. But many times we just don’t have the freedom in our schedules to enjoy it because there are just too many things crammed into our days.
We need to get food on the table fast – our kids are hungry, we need to rush off to an evening activity, or we’ve gotten home late and need to feed everyone so we can start our evening routines.
Learning some tricks to speed up your meal prep time should be high on your list of priorities.
Here are several ideas that will get you in and out of the kitchen faster than you ever thought possible.
Fast and Easy Meal Prep Ideas
Use Pre-Cooked Meat
Meat is usually the thing that takes the longest to make. If you will prep your meat ahead of time, you’ll greatly reduce the time it takes to make your dinner during the rest of the week.
Related: How to Batch Cook Chicken Breast
You can brown a huge batch of ground beef, then use it for making tacos, sloppy joes or hamburger soup.
Cook your meat for the week and package it up into meal-sized portions. You can do the same thing with any roast, ham, or pot of beans. This is probably the meal prep tip that will save you the most time.
In my Weekly Family Meal Prep Plan, you’ll learn how to cook all your chicken for the week on one day, then prepare the meals in one session. This way, each evening, your prep only takes about 15 minutes and you’ll have a healthy home cooked meal on the table.
Make Cook Once, Eat Twice Meals
I actually get excited when there’s a holiday coming up for this specific reason. I’m talking about a food holiday. What do I mean by food holidays? Well, Thanksgiving, Easter, and 4th of July just to name a few. I call them food holidays because it’s a given that we’re going to be cooking a large amount of some very specific foods.
Foods like a Turkey, Ham, Grilled Chicken, etc.
These are the kind of meals that lend themselves very easily to the Cook Once, Eat Twice Method. It’s very common to follow Thanksgiving with Turkey Noodle Soup (see how I make stock for free) a couple days later. We typically have a large amount of ham left after Easter and use it to make a bean soup, hash or ham spread sandwiches. And extra grilled chicken becomes Asian Chicken Salad or Caesar Salad.
When these holidays approach, be sure to plan ahead of time how you’re going to use your leftovers. With a plan, you can make sure the right ingredients end up on your grocery list.
Related: Cook Once, Eat Twice Chicken Recipes
Make Freezer Meals
Freezer meals are all the rage for good reason. They are extremely popular because they save people tons of time in the kitchen and money, too. There are many different ways to plan your freezer meals. I love using MyFreezEasy because it comes with all the planning details already worked out for me.
I can use the app, pick my freezer meals and it prepares a grocery list and all the step-by-step instructions for me to print out. This saves me loads of time and I can just focus on the actual food prep.
Related: Why You Need a Freezer Meal Plan
Eat Raw Side Dishes
This one is probably my favorite meal prep tip of all. After focusing most of your efforts on making a hot main dish, there’s nothing wrong with going easy on the sides.
I know most people have heard of serving a salad as a side dish, but you can easily just slice up some veggies and serve them with dip. Serve sliced tomatoes, cucumbers or coleslaw. I’ll also serve cottage cheese with some fruit, applesauce, or fruit salad. And, how do potato salad, macaroni salad or canned baked beans sound? There really is a never-ending list of options.
Always Double or Triple Recipes
If you make extra every time you cook dinner, you will be able to have a night off from cooking any time you want. You could use the extras for lunches, or you could freeze portions to heat up on another night.
I usually prefer to eat these intentional leftovers as lunch. I do, however, like to freeze extra soup for a really simple meal on another night. Just serve it with some fruit and crackers and you’ve got a super easy and cheap meal.
As you can see, you can save time cooking when you have the right easy meal prep ideas up your sleeve. There’s just no point in starting from scratch night after night. Take a few shortcuts and you’ll be able to spend extra time doing the things you love to do.
Can you share some of your own easy meal prep ideas? We’d all love some more ways to save time in the kitchen.
Gluten-Free Side Dishes
Get this FREE list of gluten-free side dishes to go along with your dinner. Keep this list of handy to support your gluten-free diet and use them for snacks, too.