Our kitchens are getting a lot of use these days. For those that are true believers in the joy of cooking, this can be great. For the rest of us, a few shortcuts and the ability to spend more time in another room of the house would be welcome.
One way to spend less time in the kitchen? Meal prepping! Whether you are looking to save money, reduce wasted food, or have less stress around meal time, meal prepping can help achieve your goals. Don’t worry, you don’t have to create an elaborate color-coded calendar or spend hours digging through cookbooks in order to meal prep. The trick is to keep it simple. Here are some of our sure-fire ways to do just that:
Consider who you are making meals for and get them involved in the planning.
Knowing what foods the members of your household like or dislike is essential. Meal prepping only saves time and reduces stress if everyone actually eats the meal that is prepared. Plus, if you have kids that are picky eaters, asking for their input on the menu is a great way to get them excited about what they are eating.
Shop your kitchen before shopping the grocery store.
Take an inventory of your refrigerator and pantry so you can plan meals with ingredients you already have on hand. Be sure to look for items that will go bad quickly or things that are already open. This will reduce food waste and help save money. Plus, if you are feeling stuck, seeing what ingredients you already have can give you a good place to kickstart meal ideas.
Build your menu around core favorites.
We all have some go-to meals that always seem to please. You can start your calendar with those and repeat them every week or two. This way you don’t have to start from scratch and can simply toss in something new when you are feeling up for it.
Go for dishes that can do double duty.
While having leftovers can be great, you don’t have to eat the same meal over and over. By planning ahead, you can incorporate the same food into different meals. Sautéed broccoli you serve as a side earlier in the week can easily be worked into a stir-fry dish or leftovers from Taco Tuesday can be turned into Stuffed Peppers or Taco Soup later in the week.
Allow for eating out to be a part of your meal prep schedule.
We all want to treat ourselves and we should! Plus, supporting our local restaurants is more important now than ever. Many of our favorite neighborhood spots are open for take-out and delivery so it is a great way to get out of the kitchen and show our community some love.
Here are just a handful of the neighborhood restaurants that we have been enjoying in the last few weeks:
Siobhan has been ordering takeout from beloved NoDa restaurants Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub, Growlers Pourhouse, and Reigning Doughnuts. They have combined efforts and launched online ordering at bringthequeen.com so you can enjoy them all at once!
We want to hear from you. Are you meal prepping these days? Leave a comment below.
Cover image by Good Housekeeping.