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Do you hate cooking but still want homemade food so you can keep it healthier and stay on a budget? Yip, me too. Ever since I can remember, I have disliked the idea of spending my life behind the stove. Then I encountered the concept of meal prepping, which changed my life!
How to Meal Prep When You Hate Cooking
If you want to meal prep but hate cooking, consider this; would you instead cook every day or once in a while and have food ready for a long time? I choose the latter too. One day a week for meal prep makes things much simpler and faster.
There are unlimited methods, tips, and tricks that I have learned over time to make meal prepping quick and easy, so cooking for those few hours feels manageable. I created a list of ideas to help make meal prepping a breeze.
Anytime you consider meal prepping but hate cooking, consider these simple ideas to help you get through the process:
Don’t Do Too Much at Once
My biggest tip for someone who dislikes cooking is to take on only a little at once. Instead of meal prepping once a month, try doing it every couple of weeks. Once a week works best because you have much less to do. Meal prepping requires you to reserve several hours a day to get everything, and it can get super overwhelming if you do too much.
I prefer to prepare two to three small meals for the week. I also am okay with leftovers which is helpful. That way, I don’t need to make too many different meals, nor does it take as long to prepare food for extended periods.
Choose Simple Meals
As someone who has always despised cooking, I like to find simple recipes that require minimal ingredients and don’t have excessive steps. I like meals that get done quickly and use staple pantry items, so I can decide what to buy or use fewer utensils.
Sticking to recipes that you know well and enjoy is also helpful. That way, you already know what to do. The process goes faster, and you feel more confident knowing how long the dishes will take to cook and how they will taste.
Use the Crockpot and Instant Pot
Here me out for a second. The crockpot and instant pot might seem intimidating. But when you figure them out, they’re game-changing. I avoided them for a long time, and once I decided to try them out, it took cooking and meal prepping to a different level. You can make so many cheap recipes in your crockpot!
You can easily find recipes for your instant pot on the internet; the best part is that they do most of the cooking for you. All you need to do is throw a bunch of ingredients into the pot, put the timer on your Instant Pot, and leave it to do its magic. For someone who dislikes cooking and spending hours behind the stove, crockpots and instant pots are the way forward, especially for meal prep sessions.
Buy Readymade Ingredients
This is my favorite tip for meal prepping. One of the most exhausting cooking tasks is prepping ingredients and chopping vegetables. It feels like it takes forever. Buying premade ingredients and precut veggies gets me excited sometimes, and I feel ready to tackle the cooking task.
Here are some items you can buy to make cooking go quicker and easier:
- Precut vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.
- Minced garlic or garlic and ginger paste
- Pasta and pizza sauces.
- Premixed marinates for meat and poultry.
- Soup powders
- Canned beans (instead of dry)
- Instant rice
- Grated cheese
- Premixed spices for specific curries
- Canned tomatoes, tomato pastes, tomato purees, etc.
- Rotisserie chicken
- Precut and cleaned meats like beef strips or cubed chicken breast
Sometimes when cooking, 90% of my ingredients are readymade. That way, I simply have to throw things together, toss them around, let them cook, and I’m done. My family has asked me several times how I have managed to cook large meals so quickly, and I always follow through on the idea that I am secretly an experienced chef!
Get Some Help
It took me ages to realize that it is okay to ask for help. Whether I get a friend or family member involved or give my kids a few tasks to do, like, stir the pot, wash dishes, peel potatoes, or grate cheese, it takes a load off my shoulders. Teamwork makes the dream work and all that jazz!
Cooking always feels less like a burden when there are more hands to do the job. I find everything goes much quicker, and I can focus on one thing without thinking about the million other things that need doing – because they are getting done.
Make a List
I hate cooking, but I am one of those people who makes lists for everything. I use that to my advantage and incorporate the two to simplify cooking. Meal prepping requires several recipes. That means you also need many ingredients, and there are a bunch of different steps.
Using lists to categorize your tasks is a great way to ensure you have everything sorted and follow through quickly. Getting it out of your brain and onto paper (or digital) helps you navigate the cooking process without forgetting steps.
One of the things super helpful is writing down all the ingredients I will need for all the recipes. Then I make a separate list of any items I need to purchase. When I start cooking, I have everything I need and don’t get stuck halfway through.
Prepare Your Workspace
An extremely frustrating part about cooking is when you have to keep looking for ingredients, pots, pans, measuring spoons and cups, etc. Something I find helpful is preparing my area before I begin. I ensure to start in a clean kitchen with no dishes in the sink. Then I get all the pots, pans, spoons, and colanders I need. I lay them out as best as possible.
Then I get every single ingredient out, following my written list. I group them according to the recipes. I ensure I have an area for chopping veggies, marinating and mixing, and so on. This process is beneficial and removes the exhaustion of finding things or slowing you down. It might seem insignificant for most people, but it can be a crucial step for those who dislike cooking.
Don’t Cook Full Meals
When you dislike cooking, meal prepping seems naturally exhausting because it can take time to get everything done. There are different ways of meal prepping. You don’t have to cook full meals. Prepping ingredients is a great way to start. Here are some examples:
- Cook your proteins and keep them aside: Have your meat, chicken, lentils, and tofu cooked and ready to go in the fridge or freezer.
- Chop all your veggies for the week: cut them into appropriate shapes per recipe and refrigerate or freeze them.
- Batch cook sauces for pizza and pasta.
- Cook and store rice for the week.
Doing small tasks over one day makes cooking much easier and quicker before you serve your meals. I do this all the time. And then, I am not stuck to eating a specific meal because I can mix and match the ingredients to create various meals.
Double Your Recipes
An underrated meal-prepping concept is cooking extra and freezing your meal-prep recipes later. I find every opportunity to do this. Whether I make lasagna, curry, or soup, I double the recipe, serve my family one portion on the day, and freeze the rest. I once collected two weeks’ worth of food doing this in the freezer. That couple of weeks consisted of no cooking; it was a glorious time of my life!
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be the most exhausting chore, even when you hate cooking. There are several ways to work around it and reduce your time in the kitchen. Finding easy meal prep recipes and following my tips to get you through the process will have you mastering the art of meal prep just as I did.
Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.