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Plan an entire week's meals with ease by using these simple meal planning tips.
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Good Eats

Simplify Meal Planning Prep with These Tips

Jun 12th, 2017

Living a fast-paced life with a busy schedule makes finding the time and energy to cook a real dilemma. It can be difficult to find the time to shop for groceries, let alone choose recipes, prepare food, and clean up afterward. If you like to cook and wish you did more of it, here are some tips that can help you plan and prepare meals more efficiently.

Try Meal Prep Sunday

Meal Prep Sunday can take different forms. Some practitioners complete all grocery shopping, food prep, and cooking for the week ahead in one day. Others select meals, shop for groceries, and plan out what they will cook throughout the rest of the week and when. Whatever energy you devote to the week’s meal planning on Sunday should save you time and stress later on.

Shop less

Do you frequently have to run out and grab ingredients for meals you’re preparing at the last minute? Frequent trips to a grocery store or even corner deli for just one or two ingredients take time, and that time adds up quickly. Reduce the time you spend grocery shopping by consolidating your shopping into one or two trips per week. Know in advance what you’ll buy, and consult a shopping list to ensure you don’t forget anything.

Cook with fewer ingredients

When browsing recipes on Meal Prep Sunday, pay attention to overlapping ingredients. This simplifies shopping, and can reduce food prep and cooking times for the week. Store versatile spices, herbs, and staples you use often in your kitchen so they’re always at hand. And try to choose recipes that call for fewer than 10 ingredients. Meals prepared with just a handful of ingredients can still be flavorful.

Choose simple recipes

Recipes with few total ingredients and quick prep times tend to be relatively hassle-free. They’re often also healthy and delicious. Save more involved recipes that appeal to you for special occasions, and stick to simple, easy-to-shop-for recipes when planning your week’s meals.

Embrace weekly specials

Taco Tuesday is celebrated all over the country at this point. If tacos are popular in your apartment, have your own taco day at home. Do this with other simple meals (falafel Friday, anyone?) popular in your household to make meal prep increasingly routine and simple.

Plan for leftovers

Leftovers are not everyone’s ideal work lunch, but some food tastes admittedly delicious when reheated. And leftovers can really simplify meal planning. It’s easier and less time-consuming to make larger quantities of a few dishes than smaller amounts of several different foods. Leftovers also don’t have to be eaten just as they were the night before. Last night’s grilled chicken can be used in a salad, fajitas, or a curry. Check out this Cook Smarts guide to repurposing leftovers for inspiration.

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