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Not even diehard foodies enjoy the time it takes to prepare food. There’s a reason that “prep cook” is an entire job that chefs pay someone else to do—it’s no fun, and people are willing to throw money at the problem! If you look at a cookbook, you’ll notice that the prep time has its own dedicated section, and it usually takes far longer than the cook time. And unlike baking a dish in the oven or sauteing something on the stove, you can’t just walk away from preparing food. It doesn’t happen unless you do it. You can, however, try some of these meal prep tips that will give you hours back every week.

Corbis

Corbis

Removing potato skin

Stop peeling your potatoes when they’re raw; the skin is the most stubborn when the potato is raw. Instead, as soon as your potatoes are boiled, throw them in extra cold water. When you remove them, just roll the potatoes in your hands, and the skin will come right off.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Buy seasonal produce

For farmers to give you produce when it’s not in season, they have to put it through all sorts of processes that strip them of flavor. Then you spend time in your kitchen adding flavor. Skip that, and just buy seasonal, flavorful produce.

 

Microwave before using the oven

Here’s a tip; most frozen items that call for 20-30 minutes in the oven don’t need to spend the whole time in the oven. Usually, if you microwave them for two or three minutes before, they can just go in the oven for eight to 12 minutes.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Peeling garlic

If your recipe calls for several garlic cloves, you’re facing a lot of peeling time. Try this: take the whole, intact head of garlic, place it with the fatter, rounder part down and the tips of the cloves up. Now smack your hand down on the top of it. This will shake the cloves loose. If you toss them all in a closed container, like Tupperware, and shake it with all of your might, most of the peel will come off.

Chop and wash all your lettuce at once

Cutting, rinsing, and drying lettuce takes forever. So, first of all, if you don’t already have a salad strainer, it’s time to get one. Now, save tons of time by chopping and rinsing all of your lettuce for the week at once. That way, you only need to clean your strainer once, too.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Softening butter

If you need softened butter—not melted and not hard but softened—all you can do is wait. But you can wait for less time if you shred the hard block of butter as if it’s cheese. It will soften must quicker in shreds.

 

 

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Peeling eggs

If you’re boiling a dozen eggs to have a quick protein snack on hand all week, peeling them can be exhausting. But you don’t have to: you can cut an egg in half, with the shell on, just like an avocado, and spoon out the halves.

 

 

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Buy weighted, balanced knives

If you’re not using the right knives, you’re wasting time every time you do prep work. A good, weighted knife does all the work for you, so you don’t have to press it down into hard vegetables.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Chop it all when the chopping board is out

Seriously; think of how much time you take cleaning the cutting board, any drying devices like salad spinners, and your knives each time you cut vegetables. If you already have these devices out, take a look in your fridge, and ask yourself if there is anything else you should be chopping for this week.

Throw away nothing

One boiled egg here, a half serving of pasta here, a handful of sauteed mushrooms there and a little lettuce is a full lunch. So don’t throw away even the tiniest of leftovers.

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Buy bigger pots and pans

Why? So that you can saute your chicken breast on one corner of the pan, grill your zucchini on the other corner, and toast your bread on the other. Now you just have to clean one big pan instead of three little ones.

Keep your chopped herbs

You usually have to buy fresh herbs in big bundles, but recipes usually only call for a few tablespoons of them. Chop up the whole bundle, and put the remainder in ice cube trays with water. Freeze, and simply defrost the cubes when you want those herbs.

Keep these veggies diced always

Almost any type of soup you could possibly want to make will call for all or some of these: diced onions, carrots, garlic, and celery. Almost any pasta sauce you could want to make will call for diced onions and garlic. Keep these diced up, in Tupperware and in the freezer.

Corbis

Corbis

Make vinaigrette en mass

If you have a salad dressing you make from scratch, make a huge batch of it, and save it in a mason jar in your fridge. Don’t just make enough for one salad.

 

 

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Clean while things cook

By the time you eat your meal, you’re exhausted; you go into a food coma. Cleaning the kitchen takes you twice as long because you’re slow. So, clean up while you’re waiting for your dish to bake/broil/sautee.

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