Like many mums and dads out there, there are a million (or maybe more) things that I need to get done over the week, and cooking is certainly not something I want to be wasting time on. However, understandably we all know that we can save a lot of money while getting nutritious meals by cooking ourselves.
So how to we make meal prep less stressful?
After few years of experimenting, I’ve come up with some TIPS on how I meal prep.
Tip #1: Buy what’s in season
It will save you money and get you good quality.
Tip #2: Find out how to store them
Some veggies can last quite a while if stored correctly, so I always try to Google up the best way to store it. For example, I found out that broccoli is best stored in a plastic bag (there are other ways, but this works best for me).
Tip #3: Run veggies under cold/ice water after steaming/cooking and drain VERY well before storage
This keeps the veggies from turning yellow and becoming soggy. The draining part is very important!
I usually just steam or boil my veggies for 3-4mins (w/ salt, fresh ginger slices or olive oil) and store them in air-tight containers. You can portion them and put them in zip-lock bags too if that’s more convenient.
Tip #4: < 3 days in the fridge; >3 days in the freezer
This is my little rule.
If I’ll eat it within 3 days ⇒ fridge
More than 3 days ⇒ freezer
My favorite is chicken breast, because it’s not that expensive and easy to prepare (no taking off the bones and cutting off excess fat).
Tip #1: Marinate in the zip-lock bag
This means the meat is ready to go whenever you need to cook!
Every time I buy meat, I’ll clean it, wipe it dry and chuck in a large zip-lock bag with whatever spices I like.
Then I either freeze it or put it in the fridge to cook within 2 days. If you put it in the freezer, the meat will marinate itself when it defrosts.
I find that yogurt, milk and lemon all help tenderize the meat!
Here are some good combinations that I’ve tried out (for around 1 kg of meat) <–skip the dairy to make it dairy-free
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder + 1 tbsp smoked paprika + 1 tbsp yogurt + squeeze of lemon
- 3 tbsp paprika + 1 tbsp yogurt
- 3 tbsp tamari + minced ginger + 1 tbsp mirin (optional) + 2 tbsp japanese rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp mild curry powder + 1 tbsp turmeric + 1 tbsp smoked paprika + 3 cloved minced garlic
*Experiment with whatever you have in the kitchen and garden, from spices to herbs!
Tip #2: Pan fry for 1.5 min on each side then into the oven 180 degrees for 10-15min
Yes I know what you’re thinking….I have to wash an extra pan??
But trust me, this method keeps the chicken juicy and ends up saving you time if you cook in bulk, because the oven does most of the work.
It will take some experimenting to get the oven time right, but you’ll be a pro after 3 or 4 times.
When it’s meal time, I microwave my chicken and it’s still tender and juicy!
For storage, I pack them in portions (in zip-lock bags) or put them in a glass container. To defrost, either put it in the fridge for 1-2 days or on the counter for a few hours…OR you can do it the quick way and chuck it in the microwave.
Whether it’s sweet potato, rice or other grains, they can all be portioned and frozen.
If I’m eating them in the next few days, I just put them in a glass container and in the fridge.