How many of you believe in the idea of meal prepping? I do. For those who are new to this term, let me throw a light on this amazing thing. To start with, life is pretty busy these days. People are working hard from 9 to 5 and sometimes beyond as well. So, preparing three meals a day in the kitchen becomes a difficult task, especially when both the spouses are working and it becomes even more difficult when they have kids, and have million other tasks at hand.
So, what do they do in that case? Either they eat out, order in at home, or otherwise, the frozen, packaged food comes to the rescue in that case. No one has the time to prepare full-fledged meals everyday. But, we also know that eating out everyday is not a pocket friendly option plus there is no guarantee of quality of the food you are consuming. So, these factors suggest that having a healthy meal at home is the best option.
But to prepare home-cooked food, it takes time. This is where the game-changer term, “Meal Prepping” comes into picture. It is very popular these days. It not only saves time in preparing meals everyday at home, but it also saves money and most importantly, your health.
It is best to do meal prepping on weekends, to get ready for the busy week ahead. Meal prepping does not mean getting the ready-to-eat-boxes prepped up for each meal for all the weekdays (though some people also do that), but I will share some tips which can help you reduce the time taken to prepare dishes for each meal. This is really helpful for Indian dishes which do take time to cook.
Here are some of the meal-prep tips:
- Gravy (Masala) – This is the base of many Indian curries. It is made by sauteing ginger, garlic, green chilies, onions and tomatoes in oil/ghee. Spices are added to this mixture which includes salt, turmeric powder, garam masala, red/black pepper, coriander powder and cumin powder. This mixture is then blended to a smooth paste, which can then be stored in containers to be used later for various dishes. I prefer to make 3-4 containers of this gravy and store it in the fridge, and use it throughout the week. This is best suited to make curries like rajma, black chana, chhole, black eyed peas, or some veggie curries like matar paneer, aloo matar, soya aloo, and also if we add cream/cashew paste to it, we can use the same gravy to prepare butter chicken, paneer makhani, veg makhanvala etc. The options are endless. I add this masala to prepare lentils also many a times.
- Cut veggies – Not all vegetables stay good if they are pre-cut. But there are certain vegetables, like cauliflower, broccoli etc. which can be cut into florets and stored. Also, for meal prepping for a week, I prefer to keep cut carrots (in different sizes as per the dish I would be preparing). Some other veggies like fenugreek leaves can be plucked and stored in an airtight container. We can similarly store cilantro/mint/spinach leaves. It is best to store the leaves in a container with a paper towel at the bottom of the container, then storing the leaves and again covering them with another paper towel before closing the container. This process helps keep the leaves fresh. This trick was shared with me by a very dear friend of mine, who I consider a pro in kitchen organization and cooking. Thank you Ashmit!!
- I usually wash cherry tomatoes and keep them in a container in the fridge for binge eating. Similarly, we can keep some fruits like washed berries and cut melon pieces, though these fruits need to be consumed within a day or two for freshness.
- If you eat chicken, then you can prepare different marination’s for chicken dishes, and use them as and when required. Two marinades which I like the most are tikka masala marinade, and the second marinade is prepared with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and brown sugar. The tikka masala marinade is used mainly for Indian dishes and the second marinade is mainly used for salads and Chinese dishes.
- The marinated chicken pieces can then be pan roasted and stored in different containers in the fridge. These come in really handy for making quick salad bowls.
- If you love eating parathas, and your kids are fussy about eating veggies and lentils, I suggest to make a paratha dough with lots of veggies like grated radish, grated cauliflower, onions, fenugreek/spinach leaves, cilantro and also add some leftover lentils and leftover veggies like pumpkin/bottle gourd/zucchini etc. The parathas will be very soft and the dough lasts well for 2-3 days. You can add different flours to it to make it healthier. I prefer to add Besan (Gram flour) and Makki ka atta (Cornmeal), along with whole wheat flour.
- Pre-cut beans, carrots and cabbage into small strips are great to be used quickly for making Chinese dishes like fried rice and noodles , and also useful while preparing pastas, quesadillas etc.
- Last but not the least, use leftovers wisely. I have been observing this lately, but if you know how to use leftover food in a creative way, no one will notice how you used it, and it will never go wasted.
These are just few tips when it comes to meal prepping, there are innumerable ways to make the main cooking process faster using wise meal prepping. Do share your tips in comments. I would love to hear how you do meal prepping at your home. Till then.