If you’re a Mudder who’s already onboard with making meal prep easier, congratulations. You’re probably already eating healthier, saving money, and saving time. (That’s what we call a win-win-win.) Well, we’re here with 7 easy tips that can keep your meal-prepping train on track. You can thank us later.
1. Skip the dressing—for now
A good salad has everything to do with the dressing you use. However, drizzling dressing on your meal-prepped salad ahead of time can make even the mix a wilted mess within an hour’s time. So layer your leafy greens, chopped vegetables, grains or beans, but leave the dressing off. Your salads will last much longer and can be saved for multiple days. Instead, prepare your dressing and place in a small glass dressing or jar and add your dressing just before serving.
2. Use a paper bag to ripen fruit faster
Stuck with hard green avocados or bananas? Ripen that fruit faster—and get it smoothie- or yogurt parfait-ready—by sticking it inside a good ol’ brown paper bag. The ethylene gas that the fruit releases will be trapped by the bag. And sticking a faster-ripening fruit, like a banana, in with your avocados will speed up the ripening process that much more.
3. Flavor your grains
Grains are perfect for meal-prepping and are the basis of many a healthy meal—but they can get boring fast. Amp up the flavor (and the protein) by by cooking your grains in bone broth (or chicken or vegetable stock) instead of water. Another genius tip to boost flavor: cook grains in tea.
4. Put your spoons to work
Knives might be the most practical kitchen utensil, but spoons are the key to hacking your way through the kitchen. Peeling ginger? Scrape the skin off with a spoon. Preparing a kiwi? Cut it in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Removing the shell from your hard boiled egg? Crack the shell with a spoon and use it to scrape away the remains. Can’t open a tight jar? Gently hit the back of the spoon on the rim of the jar and twist. Voila—opened. Even wooden spoons can be useful: to prevent water from boiling over when cooking pasta, simply lay a wooden spoon over the top.
5. Try a new use for lemon juice
If you pack sliced apples, you’re probably familiar with the dreaded brown coating that covers your fruit when you go to eat it. Fruit often turns brown when exposed to oxygen, but exposing it to the vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in lemon juice can prevent discoloring. While you can squeeze lemon juice directly onto apple in a pinch, doing so can make you pucker your lips as soon as you taste a bite. Instead, try dipping your apple slices into a lemon juice-water mixture. Dry and pack as normal.
6. Buy pre-prepped ingredients
Lazy? Maybe. More expensive? Yep. But if you’re really pressed for time, buying pre-cut veggies or a store-cooked rotisserie chicken can keep your healthy meal-prep goals on track. Try picking up pre-sliced stir fry veggies, shredded cabbage, or pre-packaged salad greens to save time in the kitchen. Take advantage of pre-roasted whole chickens for mealtime, too. Most grocery stores sell organic rotisserie chickens that be used for salads or as part of a main meal during dinner.
7. Make hard boiled eggs easier to peel
Love the convenience of having hard boiled eggs on hand for grab-and-go snacks and to add to meal-prep staples like grain bowls and salads, but hate the hassle of pealing them? Well, try this trick: steam them instead of boiling them. Apparently, the steam helps the whites pull away from the membrane, which makes peeling them once they’re cooked a lot easier.