Meal Prepping Is Annoying—Here Are 5 Time-Saving Hacks That Actually Work

Anyone can pull these off

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Woman cooking a vegetarian meal in a modern kitchen
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We’ve all seen the videos of influencers carefully measuring cups of shredded chicken, diced tomatoes and fluffy rice into Tupperware to set them up for a week’s worth of healthy meals. And sure, in theory that sounds great! But if you’re anything like me, then the thought of chopping vegetables for hours and eating the same meal for five days in a row isn’t exactly appealing. Fortunately, through trial and error I’ve discovered some tricks that take a slightly different approach to meal prepping, saving you time while keeping meals interesting. Here are five meal prep hacks that anyone (really!) can do.

Preparing Chicken Noodles Soup with Fresh Vegetables
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1. Soups Are Your New Best Friend

Psst: Meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated. That’s why I love soups, aka the ultimate meal prep dish. You can easily make them in bulk and they’re endlessly versatile. Simply fill a sheet tray with some roughly-chopped vegetables (seriously, don’t waste time carefully slicing your ingredients—they’re all going to get blitzed anyway) and roast them with a few tablespoons of oil and some seasonings. Then toss them into the blender with some broth, cream or milk of choice and boom, you have a killer soup! Serve yourself a portion for dinner tonight and then store the rest in the refrigerator or freezer for later (most soups can stay in the fridge for about three days or longer if they are not dairy based). Keep things interesting by switching up your fixings and accompaniments—serve with a side of toast one day and a salad the next.

2. Cut Down on Time with a Vegetable Chopper

Remember what I said earlier about not wanting to spend hours chopping vegetables? The way to skip this annoying step is to invest in a vegetable chopper. As someone who enjoys finely diced salad (where you can basically eat it with a spoon), this appliance has changed everything. Some even have a spiralizer, so there’s no need to buy another appliance for zoodles or apple ribbons. Many come with several blades and attachments to fit almost all your cutting, juicing, and spiraling needs. From chopping onions and cucumber to carrots and tomatoes, this handy little device will save you so much time.

Rely On Wraps meal prep hacks
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3. Rely On Wraps

The best part about this hack is that almost anything can be converted into a wrap, but it’s especially handy for transforming leftovers. Last night’s curry? Turn it into a wrap. Got a weird number of vegetables in the fridge (say, half a pepper, one carrot and a handful of spinach)? Throw ‘em into a wrap! Take things up a notch by adding salsa, hummus or dressing or heat your wrap up (melted cheese is never a bad idea). To get even more creative, swap out the tortilla wrap for some pita, lavash or naan—the possibilities are endless.

4. Lean on a Salad Jar 

We all know aesthetics play a key role in enjoying your food. As such, adding some pretty salad jars into your meal prep routine can make all the difference—it certainly has for me. Again, don’t overthink this hack—simply layer some beans or grains, chopped up veggies (so easy thanks to your vegetable chopper!) and salad leaves in the jar and place it in the fridge. Then when you’re ready to eat, top with some dried fruits, nuts or seeds and pour on a dressing. Easy peasy.

Order In meal prep hacks
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5. Order In

Wait, what? Yep, one of the best meal prep hacks I know is to (sometimes) opt for takeout. Hear me out—the next time you don’t feel like ‘cheffing it up’, try ordering in. This can sometimes cost less than groceries and it’s definitely less work on your part. For budget-friendly takeout that can be used for meal prep, places like Chipotle, Texas Roadhouse, Subway, Olive Garden or PF Changs feature ingredients that can easily suit other meals (think: rice, beans, guacamole and breadsticks). Carbs are always a good choice since they're easy to portion out and mix and match with other ingredients, but other foods that might be more laborious to prepare at home (such as chicken or steak) can also work. Whether you order an extra portion or transform those leftovers (a Chipotle burrito bowl makes an excellent next-day wrap), you can easily up your meal prep game by outsourcing some of the work.


Editorial Intern

Michelle is a student at Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City and studies film. Aside from writing, you can find her watching movies, working out or trying new...