For some, spending an hour or two preparing a beautiful meal is the perfect way to de-stress after a long work day. For plenty of others however, it’s the last thing that comes to mind when relaxation is concerned. Luckily, we’ve come up with some expert food prep hacks so you can spend less time making, and more time eating your delicious meals!
Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
As you’ve probably guessed, the key to meal preparation is planning ahead. This isn’t as much hassle as you might think; just dedicate an hour at the weekend (before you do your weekly food shopping) to set out a meal plan for the week. It streamlines the arduous task of traipsing through the supermarket, and makes you less likely to stray towards bad food choices too.
Prepare in Bulk
Unless you eat from takeaways or restaurants every day of the week, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to do at least some meal preparation. If you’ve planned your meals in advance and completed your weekly shop accordingly, you may as well go one step further and weigh out/chop up your ingredients in advance too. Store them in separate containers and they’re ready to go as soon as you get home; and you only have to prep and clean everything once. If storage space is an issue, remember you can safely freeze most fresh fruit, vegetables, bread and meat.
For accurate weighing, mouth watering recipes and handy tips and advice, check out the Drop Scales. Much more than just a weighing scales, this Bluetooth enabled, connected device works in conjunction with your phone to make sure that no matter what you’re making, it comes out perfect every time.
With both stainless steel serrated blades and freezer blades, the electronic Kenwood Carving knife effortlessly slices through meat, bread, or any frozen food in seconds. With an on/off switch and easy blade release, you can prep your food instantly as well as safely.
Was: €26.99 Now: €22.00
Use your slow cooker
It may seem counter-productive to use a slow cooker to speed up the meal making process, but trust us on this one. Slow cookers are every busy person’s dream. Throw in your pre-chopped ingredients when you get in the door, add some spices and herbs, switch it on, and go about your business. By the time your stomach has started rumbling, a succulent slow cooked meal will be ready and waiting.
Snacking is one of the main causes of your diligently crafted meal plan going straight out the window. The 3pm slump hits and you have a ‘small snack’ to keep the hunger at bay, but before you know you it you’ve eaten too much and aren’t hungry again for several hours. For a filling and healthy slump satisfier, try some fresh juices like these:
- Peach, Mango and Banana: one cup of each fruit (the peach and mango can be either fresh or frozen), plus 1 cup of plain yoghurt and a handful of ice.
- Triple Berry: 1.5 cups of mixed blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (or any other berries of your choice), with 1 cup of milk and some ice.
- Strawberry Banana: 1 banana, 1 cup of strawberries, 0.5 cups each of vanilla yoghurt and milk, 2 teaspoons of honey and some ice (plus a pinch of cinnamon if you fancy it).
Give the Sage Nutri Juicer a try for fresh, smooth juices made in seconds.
Fill up your Freezer
If you’ve weighed out and chopped up all of your ingredients for the week, why not prepare a one-pot meal like curry, stew, lasagne or soup and make a bumper batch to see you through several days? Once cooked and cooled, divide it into individual portions and pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it. Freezing both prepared meals and fresh ingredients prevents the growth of micro-organisms and enzymes that cause food spoilage, keeping your food fresher for longer if you can’t use it within a few days. A few important points to remember however:
- Keep raw and cooked foods separated
- Follow any freezing and defrosting guidelines on the product packaging
- Don’t put cooked food in the freezer until it’s fully cooled
- Label foods with a use-by date, just in case you forget how long it’s been in the freezer!
- Make sure any meat is entirely defrosted before cooking
Sort out your Fridge
For super fast meal prep times, it pays to have a dedicated place for everything in your fridge. How you organise it is up to you; a shelf each for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the ingredients you need first at the front of the shelf; sauces and seasonings lined up in the door, and so on. Whichever way you set it up, make sure raw food is on the bottom shelf and leftovers are on the top to avoid cross-contamination. If possible, try not to keep milk or eggs in the door of the fridge, as this is the warmest part.