Meal prepping – how to save time making dinner

Amazing food takes time. You can of course whip up some great tasting pasta dish within 30 minutes, but a proper roast or a sauce based on a reduction will often take a few hours.

Hours that you don’t have if you lead a busy life; like many of us do.

When you step out of the office and into your home around 6 pm the last thing you want to do is roast a chicken for 90 minutes. You most likely don’t even want to spend 10 minutes on chopping up some vegetables.

Because you know this you have already brought some take-away food with you, or you just throw a frozen pizza into the oven.

Why I started meal prepping

This basically was how I handled my dinner situation back in 2019. Life was busy, as a freelancer I often worked late, or I was on the road traveling to events several times per month.

These poor food choices left their mark as unwanted pounds around the waist kept creeping up. My pants got tighter, my wallet slimmer and my energy levels were low.

2020 arrived and I was ready for a change. And boy, did change happen!

First, as we all remember, the travel options went out of the window. Restaurant visits came to a screeching halt. But I still worked long hours, and the last thing I wanted to do when I closed the door to my home office was to slave in the kitchen for a longer period.

I just wanted to eat something that took no time to make, that was delicious and made from scratch. Meaning it was made from fresh produce instead of being full of processed crap.

The other thing is – I’m not an exceptional cook. My food is not bad, it’s just mediocre. The taste is often lacking, and I don’t know how to fix this. My cooking skills are not great either, so lumpy gravy and overcooked something were often part of the main course.

In 2020 I had one wish: to cook great food as I was getting tired of my limited dinner options.

Fast forward to July. I had just finished watching all episodes of “How I met your mother” and from there I moved on to reading NPH’s autobiography. In the book you find a recipe (say whaaaat?) for Bolognese sauce, that actually takes about 2 hours to make.

Just reading about it kept my mouth watering, and if it’s good enough for NPH, it’s probably good enough for me too. So I made the bolognese, and it’s still one of the best things I have ever eaten.

The year before I visited this castle in Italy and they served up a lasagna that was just ah-ma-zing. I could talk about that lasagne for days!

Sitting at home with my very first bowl of proper made pasta bolognese I had the same sensation as I had in Italy – I started to giggle while eating. And I could not believe that I had been able to make something this delicious.

The best cook book in the world

The Bolognese recipe is courtesy of David Burtka, NPH’s husband. And what do you know, he also publsihed a cook book in 2019.

“Life is a Party” gives you 106 receipes for every party style you could imagine. And as the tag-line of the book promises – they are delicious and totally do-able.

With book in hand I set out to finally make some proper tasty food. Mind you, it’s a party book, so most recipes are laid out for at least 6 portions, often 8-12. And I just followed the book to the t.

I had 1 friend coming over and made Mediteranian chicken for 8. Good choice. I ate a portion with my friend, one more the day after and the rest I put in the freezer, in ready-made portions.

And this is how I kept going. Pot Roast And Savory Vegetables, Chicken Tot Pie, Roast Chicken. I made them, ate one portion and froze the rest. After a few weekends my freezer was filled to the brim with the most delicious food.

From then on I just took out one meal in the morning, let it thaw and heated it up after work. 10 minute tops, and I sat there with the most amazing dinner. Every single day.

I have been doing this now for 8 months. I haven’t missed going out to restaurants, I just missed sharing meals with other people.

At rare events I have ordered food when visiting friends, and although it comes from good restaurants, I’m now more often disappointed. It just doesn’t hold the same standard and taste as what I’m eating every day.

The urge to buy frozen pizza or ready meals has completely disappeared.

So if you would like to eat better while not spending much time to do it, here is how to do it:

  • Take your favourite recipes (and double in size)
  • Spend some time in the weekend to cook
  • Put in portion sized containers and chuck in your freezer
  • Eat whenever you feel like it

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