5 Ways to Save Time & Energy By Making Meals Ahead

It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, and you’ve finished a long day of working from home, picked up the kids from school, and are now driving them to soccer.  By 5:30, you’re driving home from soccer but realize that you have nothing planned for dinner, so you stop by the local fast food restaurant and grab some food.

Sound familiar?

We’re all very busy these days, and if we don’t plan ahead, we’ll be wasting all of our hard-earned money grabbing food.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  There are simple things you can do to make sure a homemade dinner is on the table every night no matter how busy you are.

Meal Plan

If you use no other suggestions from this post, at least take the time to meal plan.  When you meal plan, you know what you’ll be eating during the week, and you’ll know that you have all of the ingredients in the house.  (Is there anything worse than starting a meal only to find that you don’t have all of the ingredients?!)
You can look at your meal plan at night and take out meat to thaw so it’s ready for the next day.  Make sure to plan easy meals for your really busy nights.

Meal Prep on the Weekend

Take an hour on Sunday and meal prep.  Cut all of the veggies and fruit you plan to eat during the week.  If you’ll make a meal with ground meat, brown that ahead of time.  The idea is that when you come home to make dinner, you will just need to pull the already prepared ingredients from the refrigerator and cook.

Plan Slow Cooker or InstantPot Recipes

If you plan slow cooker recipes, you’ll need to spend 15 to 30 minutes or so getting everything in the slow cooker.  Then your work is done for the night meal.  Or, find good InstantPot recipes (also called "InstaPot") so you can pull dinner together faster at night.

Curious what InstantPot model we use? We've had good luck with this one and this off-brand one, too. 

Have a Freezer Cooking Session

If you’re willing to spend four or five hours upfront, you can easily stock your freezer with enough meals for the month.  Just pull them out the night before and warm them up the next evening for dinner.  While I love pulling freezer meals out, I’ll be the first to admit that freezer cooking does require quite a time investment upfront.

 Make a Few Meals Sunday Night

If you’re not up to spending time making all the meals for the month, consider making a few meals on Sunday.  I used to freezer cook, but now I use this strategy instead.  I spend about 1.5 to 2 hours on Sunday making a few breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  We’re most busy Monday through Wednesday, so on those nights, I just pull already cooked meals prepared on Sunday from the refrigerator.  On Thursday and Friday nights, I make meals fresh to eat.

If you don’t want to spend your money on fast food or convenience food, there’s no reason that you have to.  Take the time to plan your menu, and then use one of these cooking strategies to save yourself time and energy during the busy weekdays.

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