If you live alone, then you have no choice but to do all the house chores yourself. When you get home from work, for example, you still need to cook your meals and then wash the dishes after eating. There’s nothing much you can do after that except to go to bed and wake up early the next morning to cook breakfast and go to work—then repeat the routine all over again. Let’s face it, a lot of time and energy is spent in preparing and cooking meals. And if you have to commute to your workplace each day, it’s difficult to allot enough time for meal prepping.
Meal prepping is the art of food preparation where ingredients or leftovers are prepared for safer, quicker, and easier breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The most common example of meal prep is the famous bento box. Also, meal preps can be done in three ways:
- Batch Cooking: Cook big recipes every weekend, freeze them, and reheat them whenever you need to eat.
- Portion Cooking: Meals are divided into lunch boxes in advance, which you can easily grab and go when you need them.
- Ingredients Prepping: Ingredients are chopped, peeled, sliced, or pre-cooked ahead of time, so you can just add them to dishes you’ll be cooking later on.
Knowing these types is good, but how will you make these techniques safer and quicker? Here are some tips you might want to follow:
1. Optimize Meal Prep With Small Appliances
Small kitchen appliances are every homemaker’s best friend. With these portable kitchen gadgets, meal preps are quicker, safer, and easier. They help you eliminate tedious and manual tasks, such as strenuous mixing, stir-frying, pan toasting, crushing, and mashing. Just hearing these manual processes would make you feel tired, especially when you just got home.
Here are some handy kitchen appliances you might love to try:
- Kitchen Mixers: To help you reduce mixing time, especially when you plan to whip eggs and make use of premade mixes.
- Toasters: With this gadget, you don’t have to turn up the flames and get your pan just to heat some loaves of bread. It’s quick, easy, and safe to use.
- Blenders And Food Processors: These gadgets will help you reduce chopping, mincing, and crushing ingredients. Also, you don’t have to use a knife, which could cause injuries if you’re not using it right.
- Microwave Oven: This gadget allows you to reheat meals, particularly your portion meals, a lot faster and safer. All you need is to push the button, wait for a minute, and voila—your meals are heated and done.
These kitchen gadgets are the best way to make your meal preps easier without tiring yourself a lot.
2. Organize Your Storage Area
When it comes to your pantry, make sure to line up food products with the nearest expiry dates in front of the shelf and others at the back. This will help you consume such products before they expire. Also, this will help you see and avoid buying and stocking items you already have. It would also help to place and arrange your ingredients in a way that it would be easy for you to grab them when you’re cooking.
3. Choose Easy Recipes
Meal preps are created to simplify the cooking process, so you don’t want to go for recipes that take too long or use too many ingredients to finish. Check out some simple recipes on the internet, such as stir-fried vegetables, roast chicken legs, or a quick and freezer-safe sauce. On the other hand, avoid recipes, such as lasagna, braised meat dishes, and other complex recipes.
Once you’re done choosing easy recipes, create a list of ingredients to make your grocery day fun without any fuss.
4. Invest In Food Containers
Food containers are the most important tools you need for meal prepping. Instead of finding old and matching lids out of your drawers, you might want to skip this and buy new containers instead. But before you do that, make sure to know how you will use these containers.
If you’re planning to freeze meals ahead of time and microwave them, you might want to look for containers that are safe to put in the freezer and microwave. This will make sure that every meal prep is safe and free from dangers, especially when you’re using a microwave.
Also, you may consider using glass containers instead of plastic ones. These are not only eco-friendly but also safe for microwave use.
5. Prep Your Veggies
You may prepare your veggies ahead of time by blanching them in boiling water for about a minute and splashing them in ice-cold water. This will kill the heat and stop the cooking process. After that, place them in a plastic zipper bag and freeze them until you need to use them.
This will help you reduce cooking time when you need to cook recipes with veggies. Some vegetables you can blanch are green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and more.
Furthermore, blanching not only improves the color of the veggies but also helps seal nutrients and kill potentially harmful microbes for a safer meal prep experience.
6. Stock Up Your Pantry For Essential Goods
Having your pantry filled with essential dry goods will help you streamline your cooking process without running to the market to complete your recipe needs.
Here are some versatile ingredients your pantry might need:
- Whole Grains: These include brown and white rice, oats, quinoa, and pasta for your quick and carb-rich meals.
- Legumes: You may look for canned and dried lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, or black beans.
- Canned Goods: You may look for stocks, broths, crushed and whole tomatoes, olives, corn, fruits, and veggies.
- Fats And Oils: Go for healthier options, such as extra-virgin and regular olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, or grapeseed oil. If you’re looking for extra depth of flavors, you may try herb-infused and pre-seasoned olive oils.
- Baking Ingredients: Store flour, baking powder, baking soda, or cornstarch, which you can also use in other recipes.
- Other Essentials: Store spices and seasonings, nuts, dried fruits, and alcohol for cooking.
With a complete pantry, not only cooking and prep time are reduced but also the stress you have to deal with due to incomplete ingredients.
Meal prepping is an essential skill that may improve your quality of life and personal well-being. It’s also the art of preparing and cooking dishes without going through a hard time, especially when you’re tired from work.
For safer and quicker meal preps, you can use small kitchen appliances like a food processor and blender, organize your storage, use simple recipes, prep your veggies beforehand, and stock up your pantry. With these tips, meal prepping and planning will never be the same again.