We have received an immense amount of requests this month from our community asking for some simple prep hacks to help minimize the amount of time it takes to get through meal prep. The first thing to note here is that meal prep is essentially a skill like any other. The more you do it, the more efficient you will become at getting it done. Some of us will even sacrifice a touch of variety (not flavour!) in our day to day meals in order to be able to both eat to our profiles/ templates and minimize the time taken to prepare.
However, there are a few little wins that I have discovered over the years that save a heap of time and will have you wondering how you survived at all previously.
TOP 3 Time Saving Hacks.
1- USE THE MEAT SCISSORS.
See those scissors that come standard in any knife block you may have purchased over the last 20 years? Despite popular opinion, they can actually be used for more than snipping the top off your plastic icy-pole!
Use your meat scissors for the following:
Trim the fat of your steaks / chicken. When I batch cook my steaks, I have nearly 3.5kg to trim. Using the scissors to cut out any fat and gristle has taken my meat prep time from 30 minutes to less than 5. No more hacking up the steaks or ripping them apart with knives – this time saver is a gem!
Try cutting your chicken breasts into even pieces to pan sear. By cooking it in smaller pieces it will not only cook through faster, but the smaller pieces make portioning after the cook much faster also.
Once your meat is cooked, cut it up where necessary to make your portions even. Particularly where meats are concerned, minimal deviation from the recommended weight is highly encouraged. While a little extra veg each day will not dramatically alter your compliance rates to your macros, the same cannot be said for meat.
Use the scissors to make sure those portions are even and make some cuts where necessary. Bite size pieces of meat can also save you the effort of searching for office cutlery later!
2) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TECHNOLOGY.
I only recently invested in a slow cooker about six months ago and it is, without doubt a total game changer! There is literally less than five minutes of prep time required to get days worth of meat (and/or veg), depending on how much you want to include. For me, I take 2kg of chicken breast, throw them straight in the slow cooker, add some of my favourite seasoning and turn it on low. Come back 5 – 6 hours later and it’s all done. Separate into 10 portions – Boom! For those looking for a little more creativity, MTMM has a ton of slow cooker recipes for lamb shanks/ shoulders, curry, soups and casseroles. These can be provided on request (and occasionally leaked on social media).
Most slow cookers now come with settings for cooking rice. But if you’re looking to really condense your prep time, the separate investment is a winner. Not only can you have three days worth of rice ready to go within 20 minutes, but they generally come with an add on to steam your vegetables at the same time.
3) SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
Don’t be discouraged if your first few prep trials are an abysmal failure – they are merely learning opportunities. I can tell you from experience you only need to leave chicken in the slow cooker for eight hours once, before you learn it only needs five. You’ll only mistake the balsamic vinegar when looking for the soy sauce (but eat it anyway) just that one time! The key to staying compliant is to get creative. Herbs and spices are really easy ways to flavour enhance your meals without resorting to sugar dense, preservative rich marinades. Garlic, ginger and chili can provide a pretty decent base to any other concoction you are thinking of trying. Be generous with coriander, cilantro, parsley and basil... what’s the worst that could happen??
Try, try and try again – until you find the perfect combination that suits your tastebuds and your macros.
These three hacks continue to serve me well week in week out. Prep has become a skill that I pride myself on and in no way do I consider it to be a drain or a chore. Take the time to practice, invest in ways to make your preparation more efficient and feel free to get creative. Just because you are paying attention to the food you are eating, in no way does it need to feel bland or restrictive.
Start with small goals, aim to eat at least 4 prepped meals per week, then each week try to have one more. If you foresee that the coming weeks might be particular tough to get additional prep sessions in – take advantage of our partnerships with companies such as Caveman Grocers and Barons of Beef – minimize as much as possible your need to reduce yourself to heavily processed, toxin laden fast food.
Ultimately, it comes down to how high your health and performance rank on your list of priorities, which will determine the amount of effort you are willing to put in!