Prepping some foods ahead of time is key to getting healthy meals on the table fast, even when time feels short. These 16 Time-Saving Food Prep Tips are second nature to me at this point. I started prepping meals ahead when my first daughter was born, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Some of these tips are so simple, and if you’ve been prepping meals ahead for a long time like I have, you’re likely using most (or all) of these useful ideas. But if you’re just starting out with preparing some foods ahead, you’re likely to find some huge time-savers in the list below!
Feel free to share your best food prep tips in the comments below. I always love learning from you, too!
16 Time-Saving Food Prep Tips
1 – Keep items (like herbs, spices, oils) used near or at the stove top during cooking handy in cabinets beside and above the oven.
2 – For baking, make a batch of gluten-free flour blend each week and store in an airtight container so all you need to do is measure when it’s time to bake.
3 – When bananas become too ripe to peel and eat, peel them then place in zip top freezer bags, mash flat and seal. Use when it’s time for a smoothie or “nice cream”.
4 – When you use canned coconut milk and only need the solid portion, save the liquid that is left over and store up to 4 days in the fridge for using as the cooking liquid for gluten-free grains like rice or quinoa. It adds flavor and nutrients!
5 – Buy proteins (meat and poultry) on sale then cook in big batches in your slow cooker, cool, portion and freeze for future budget-friendly family meals in a hurry.
6 – Keep organic frozen vegetables in your freezer for those times you are out of fresh veggies. These make great additions to all sorts of meals, boost nutrition and save lots of time.
7 – If you run out of eggs and need to bake, chia, hemp or (ground) flax seeds may come to your rescue if you keep them on hand. Add 1 T. seeds to 3 T. warm water, stir and let sit a few minutes to thicken. Use to replace 1 large egg in many recipes like muffins or cookies. Replace up to 2 eggs with this method.
8 – Refresh your dried herbs and spices every 6 months so that they are fresh and flavorful. Keeping fresh spices on hand helps boost the flavor of foods with minimal effort, and can also allow you to cut back on added sodium and fat.
9 – Save leftover fruit juices and coffee by freezing in ice cube trays, then transferring to freezer safe containers or zip top bags. These make excellent additions to smoothies!
10 – If you buy extra produce (or get too much of something in your CSA box), freeze it.
11 – Save leftover broth from cooking meats by straining and storing in the fridge (up to 3 days) or freezer (up to 1 month). This is an excellent base for soups, or to use as the cooking liquid for gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, amaranth, etc. (When I cook meat like the pork loin below, I strain the cooking liquid and store it in the fridge or freezer, below.)
12 – If your jar of applesauce isn’t being used, before it expires (and it will go quickly!), freeze it in individual freezer containers (1/4-cup portions) to use for replacing fat in baking. When you need it, simply thaw and use for up to ½ the fat called for in your recipe. That way, you cut waste and fat!
13 – If you love pizza but hate mixing and rolling the dough, have a once-a-month pizza prep party and make individual gluten-free crusts (here’s my Quick & Easy Pizza Crust recipe), then freeze them so that when you want pizza, the messy part is all done and your oven fresh pizza is minutes away. (And don’t forget to try this Deep Dish Skillet Pizza!)
14 – Beat mealtime boredom by concocting a theme for your meals one night each week. For example, pick a country of interest, create a sandwich buffet, or have breakfast for dinner. Even small changes can keep the whole family interested in meals you’re putting on the table, and can make mealtimes fun for kids of all ages!
15 – Make two batches of muffins on the weekend, enjoy some then, then freeze the rest for quick grab & go breakfasts when you’re too rushed to cook.
Feel free to share your favorite kitchen and life hack tips in the comments below! :)