Easy Meal Prep Hacks to Save You Time in the Kitchen

Feb 16, 2023

 by Liz Rodriguez
Let's face it, life is busy! Every day we are faced with time donated to work, self care, family, and of course, food. I wanted to write this article to help people make healthy and sustainable meals that taste great but also don't take a ton of time in the kitchen.
My tips below are all about prepping foods and cooking them together so that you can also build better habits in the kitchen. Eating well makes us feel so much better and trickles down to other parts of our lives. I hope you enjoy!
Step 1: Prep your foods
After you get back from the grocery store is when you will spend roughly an extra 20 minutes to prep your food so that it's ready for the week. Let's start with protein. Decide what you will cook in the next 3 days and set aside in fridge. If you purchased extra, simply take out the portions you want to use and place in a freezer bag and place in fridge, and place the extra pieces in a separate freezer bag and place in freezer. You can also take it a step further say with fish and portion out pieces, and wrap in plastic wrap before placing in the freezer bag. This also avoids food waste.
For your vegetables, rinse and wrap in paper towels before placing in a plastic bag and place in fridge. This works great for lettuce, celery, and leafy greens. For your broccoli and cauliflower simply wash and cut up and place in containers for easy use. You can also chop up onions and place in a sealed container to save you time during the week.
Section 2: Balancing your cooking times
This is an area that I think so many people go wrong. They are cooking things separately which leads to so much more cooking time. Instead, let's work on either cooking the ingredients together or balancing the cooking times.
For example, let's say that I am going to make baked chicken with rice and roasted vegetables.
  1. Get out all ingredients that you need
  2. Preheat oven to 400*
  3. season chicken and place on a cookie sheet
  4. take out a second cookie sheet and add veggies and toss with seasonings and some olive oil
  5. Add both the chicken and the veggies to the oven; both will take roughly 20-30 minutes (this depends on thickness of chicken and size of vegetable; bigger chicken will take more like 30; smaller pieces less; so make sure your veggies and chicken are comparable in size so they both cook about the same time)
  6. Add water to a small pot for rice and bring to a boil; once you add rice it will take around 15 minutes
  7. As the chicken and veggies are finishing, check your rice; if it needs more time, simply take the items out of the oven, get out your plates and eating utensils and beverages, and your rice will be done!
An alternative to the idea above is to add all items to a cookie sheet or baking pan to cook together, otherwise known as a sheet pan dinner. Some of my favorite combinations are pork chops with sweet potatoes and broccoli, or chicken and red potatoes with cauliflower. Simply add ingredients to sheet pan, season and toss in a little olive oil. Cooking at 400* will take around 20-25 minutes, and 350* will take 30-35 minutes.
Section 3: Use your gadgets
There are so many kitchen gadgets out there that can save you time with your cooking! Something that I use frequently is a pressure cooker, which allows me to cook an entire spaghetti squash or a batch of beans in 25 minutes. I also love that I can sear meat in it, add some vegetables and broth to it, switch to slow cooker (high setting) and cover to make a mean soup in 30 minutes all in the same pot. There are also air fryers, convection ovens, or just your good ol fashioned crock pot that may not save you time, but it allows you to throw everything in something and walk away. This is a great time for you to take stock in what gadgets you have that could save you time and get you thinking about how you can maximize that time in the kitchen.
Creating meals from scratch is never easy. But I hope the tips above allowed you to open your mind to the possibilities and how to make smarter meals that take less time in the kitchen. For more meal ideas check out my Instagram here!