10 Worthwhile Meal Prep Time Saving Tips
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Profile photo of Toby Smithson, MSNW, RDN, LDN, CDE

Eating at home more often is an important adjustment to promote better diabetes self-management, but many people have a sense that the time involved preparing our own meals is excessive. Personally, I think that’s debatable (and there’s no question it’s a wise investment in your health), but to help you save time preparing food at home I’ll offer the following tips.

Salad bar

Serve breakfast, lunch or dinner salad bar style. Lay out the ingredients for salads, sandwiches, or tacos like a salad bar is served in a restaurant. Your family members can make individual meal with the choices in front of them.

Pre-diced veggies

Purchase fresh or frozen diced bell pepper and onion mix, and save dicing time for recipes that use these ingredients. Bell peppers and onions can be added to many dishes (think omelet or stirfry), adding both flavor and more veggies to your meal.

Crock Pot

Start cooking the night before and let the crock pot do the cooking for you. Oatmeal for the next day’s breakfast or chili, soup or stew for next day dinner can be placed in a crock pot the night before.

No boil pasta

Use no boil pasta especially for lasagna. No boil pasta cuts out the waiting time for cooking pasta.

No cooking

Serve a meal that requires no cooking. Cottage cheese or sliced cheese, fruit, crackers, and raw veggies with hummus, or pimento cheese sandwiches with a tossed salad and fresh fruit.

Weekend meal prep

Use a couple hours every weekend to prep meals for the week. Prepare double batches of two recipes to last the whole week long. You can swap dinner meals with these two dishes you pre-prepped. Add a salad and you will have a complete meal.

Frozen veggies

Use frozen stir fry vegetables for your stir fry dishes. Saves time and money on chopping raw vegetables. Less food waste too.

Prep night before

Prep breakfast and lunch the night before. Lay out the ingredients and dishes for breakfast so everything is at your fingertips. You can make overnight oats in the refrigerator the evening before. Pack your lunch right after eating dinner the night before. Your lunch will be ready and the clean-up will be done with the dinner clean up.

Food waste

Save time and avoid food waste. If you have leftovers, use them the next day for lunch, or be creative using them for dinner. For example, if you have leftover cooked vegetables from dinner, use them in a green salad for lunch.

Pantry staples

Keep lower sodium broth soups, whole grain pasta, brown rice, and canned or frozen vegetables as staples in your pantry. These items come in handy and have a longer shelf life.

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