Are you getting tired of the constant time spent in the kitchen? We cannot believe how much time it takes to prep and cooks for my family every day. It’s like a part-time job in itself! We recently read that the average American spends 38 minutes per day prepping and cooking meals (men’s average: 22 minutes, women’s average: 58 minutes). Would you like some of this time back? We know I would!
Cooking ahead is one way that you can save some of this time. That’s right – you can save a lot of time by cooking ahead and creating meals that you simply have to pop in the oven to warm up each day. Imagine walking in from a hard day at work and only having to pop a meal in the oven. That’s it! Less than a minute of work for a delicious dinner to enjoy.
Many people question if you can save a lot of time cooking ahead. Well, the answer is YES! You can save time by preparing ahead, even if that means you need to spend a couple of hours working hard for food prep.
A successful session of cooking ahead means you will be busy food prepping and cooking for several hours. When we do meal prepping like this, we like to set aside a couple of hours on a weekend day for it. We are beyond happy to do this because it means that spending 2-3 hours on one day to save an hour every other day during the week. It’s worth it!
You already know that it is easier to work in a clean space, and this is very, very true when we talk about working in the kitchen. You want to make sure that your counters are cleared off to make space for your kitchen appliances, such as your slow cooker. Plus, it’s hard to save time cooking if you have to spend a bunch of time washing dishes during your meal prep.
When you are prepping your meals for cooking ahead, make batches that are 3-4 times the size of your family’s regular meals. Now you have turned one meal into several, and you can have each meal once a week.
When cooking ahead, it is best to prepare foods that you cook in the oven. Foods like casseroles, enchiladas, lasagna, etc. are the perfect choice for this type of food prep. You want to have meals ready to pop in the oven, and that’s it. Anything that needs to be cooked on the stove doesn’t save you much time since you have to be standing and stirring often.
You don’t have to wait for hours and hours until everything has been baked or cooked. To save yourself time during the food prep session, you can simply prepare everything and then freeze. They can go straight from the freezer to the oven.
Having the right tools available for your cooking session can make all the difference in the world. Whenever we do meal prepping, we like to use the Handi-foil meal prep pans because they are just the right size for my family, they make freezer organization easier. Plus, when it is time to heat your meal, all you need to do is remove the cardboard lid and pop them in the oven!
The best part though, is there is no cleanup! Once your food is heated up and ready to eat, you can simply toss the pan! Now, you not only save time cooking, but you also save time cleaning up.