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How to transform your meal prep process to save time

Meal prep is how everyone is trying to stick to their healthy eating routine. I’ve been meal prepping since I graduated college and let’s just say this… I wouldn’t want to return to my previous meal prep process for anything. I started off making my breakfast and lunch the night before my next work shift. However, since it was so late in the evening, what could’ve been 1-2 hours turned into 3. I just wanted to sit down and relax after work which made me procrastinate on making my meals. Now, my meal prep process only takes 1-2 hours on Sundays. Way better than before, right? I have the process down to a science.

Use a grocery list.

Not only will it save you money, but it’ll also save you time. Here’s what I usually do. I’ve stopped using Instacart delivery services so I get to skip all the delivery and transactional fees. But I keep the subscription to use the app as my grocery list when I go inside the store. (With my mask ON. As an EMT, I’d implore you to do the same.) So I try to make my grocery list on Instacart the night before my grocery trip so I can figure out how much I can get for the budget I want to stay within. Then, it’ll serve as my list when I get in the store and I just remove the items as I pick them up. You can try this or a notecard. But don’t even think about going into that store without a list, you hear?

Get your gadgets together.

As much as I love potatoes, I had to give up cutting them by hand. I gave in to my Amazon obsession and bought one of those as-seen-on-TV vegetable cutters. Mine is called a Weoola or something. Got it for $20 and it has several cutting pattern plates. Anyways, by gadgets that’ll help you cut downtime for meals and items you buy regularly. Pressure cooker recipes are a godsend. I don’t necessarily use one since being an EMT means I don’t have ready access to a microwave or pre-scheduled breaks. But a pressure cooker means LESS WORK. Also, you’re probably slipping if you don’t have a muffin pan. I use mine to bake 6 days worth of eggs (using Papetti's egg mix) for the week. Won’t even have to make breakfast Saturday morning really.

Choose your recipes wisely.

One of the most common complaints about meal prepping is having to eat the same meal every day. Folks want variety. However, you need to find recipes that you can tolerate no matter what. I’ve tried overnight oatmeal and avocado toast I don’t know how many times. Those foods are convenient and nutritious but I can’t tolerate them enough to eat a full serving. Those trendy recipes are getting the boot. Ideally, your time-saving recipes would be one-pan recipes or hand foods like wraps and sandwiches. Here are a couple of easy ones. The first recipe: cut up some Italian sausage, cabbage, onions, and peppers and roast in the oven. The second recipe: cut up chicken breast and add broccoli and carrots or Brussel Sprouts. It’ll take a while to find some recipes that you can eat every day without feeling like a cog in the machine. So far my breakfast meals have been the same for months unless I have plans to eat out. My forever breakfast meal consists of two eggs, potatoes, and California blend vegetables, maybe an orange or some other fruit. Every now and then I’ll add a waffle. Do you know what this means? I’ve reached my meatless breakfast meal milestone. Don’t clap too hard though.

Prepare food right after the trip.

If you buy fresh fruit and vegetables for smoothies, go ahead and baggy your fruit for your smoothie mix. Or you could do the lazy way and just buy prepackaged fruit mixes. Slightly more expensive but so damn convenient. And for the sake of your blood pressure, go ahead and take the chicken out! Especially, if you’re planning to do meal prep the night of your grocery trip. Then, you can go ahead with wash day or laundry while your chicken’s defrosting. Set alarms if you need to. Thank me later. You know you need a reminder.

You don’t need the scenic route.

Take as many shortcuts as possible. I used to looove trying out elaborate recipes with 15 ingredients and 10 of them weren’t in my pantry. However, that process takes hours out of the day and is completely unnecessary for meal prep unless you want to try something new. Find short 30 minute -1 hour recipes that fit your taste buds. Find foods that’ll last long. I like to use frozen vegetables and fruits since they can sit in my freezer for weeks on end. The only fresh vegetables I need for my meal prep are potatoes and salad mix for lunch. Also, I won’t judge you if you were to just… I don’t know… Re-heat a $5 rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store. You can make fajitas or add the chicken to your Pressure Cooker. However, you want it. I’ll let you in on a lil secret. I don’t even use fresh chicken from the poultry section anymore. I just get the frozen bags of tenderloins or chicken breast. Saves me some preparation time. The Tenderloins especially. Just gotta thaw and season. No cutting required. K.I.S.S.

How does your meal prep process look?

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