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    12 Practical Tips For Meal Prepping When You’re Busy

    Just because you're busy doesn't mean you can't meal prep.

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    Everybody knows the benefits of meal prepping: It makes healthy eating easier, it's cost effective, and it's an investment in yourself — but it also takes time.

    We rounded up 12 of our favorite time-saving meal prep tips, so even the busiest of people can fit it into their schedules.

    1. Write a weekly grocery list and only make one trip.

    2. Cook several things at once by dividing your sheet pan using foil.

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    Need to cook chickpeas and potatoes at the same time? Just divide your pan with a thin wall made out of foil. That way, if one item cooks faster than the other, you can pop the entire section out of the tray and continue roasting the other half. (This trick is especially great if you don't like your foods touching.)

    3. Buy a slow cooker and prep yourself some dump dinners.

    Dump dinners are slow cooker recipes where you can throw all your ingredients in at once. These recipes are great for meal prepping, as you can prep all of the ingredients, throw them into Ziploc baggies, and store 'em in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to cook. That way, in the morning, you just dump it all in the slow cooker and let it cook all day.

    More: Learn how to prep a week's worth of slow cooker meals and check out 27 dump dinner recipes that practically cook themselves.

    4. Don't be ashamed of splurging on shortcut ingredients if you feel like they're worth it.

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    Store-bought ingredients can be pricy, but the time it saves you can be well worth the cost. If you don't have a ton of time on your hands, buying things like dressings or hummus (instead of making it yourself) can save you a ton of time and promote healthy eating during the week.

    5. Cook just a handful of items, but combine them in exciting ways so you don't get bored.

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    A nice tomato sauce can be tossed over pasta, used in shakshuka, or even turned into a hearty stew — so get creative about how you use your meal prep so you don't get burnt out eating the same thing over and over again.

    6. Limit yourself to meal prepping only one day a week — and aim to keep your daily cooking under 20 minutes...

    7. But if you're someone who needs to cook dinner every night, meal prep just the components to make it easy.

    8. Freeze any leftover prep for the following week instead of throwing it away.

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    Cooked a big batch of veggies and realized it was too much? Just freeze the leftovers and use them for the following week. Figuring out how much food to prep can be hard at first, so finding ways to repurpose your excess prep not only cuts down on food waste, but can save you some time during the following week.

    9. Invest in a vacuum sealer so you can meal prep big batches of foods and freeze them.

    10. Fill your freezer with homemade frozen meals so you can come home to something healthy and delicious after a long day.

    11. If you're a smoothie lover, freeze individual smoothie packs so all you have to do is blend them up in the morning.

    Smoothies are another great item to prep and stash in your freezer. Just cut up all of the components, place them into baggies that are already measured out, and store them in your freezer. In the morning, take one of the bags, dump it into your blender, and breakfast is done.

    More: Learn how to make freezer smoothie kits.

    12. Instead of making individual portions of oatmeal everyday, make a big batch of baked oatmeal — or make overnight oats.,

    Oatmeal is a great breakfast option that keeps you full, but unless you're using instant oats, they can take a bit of time to cook in the morning. Instead, add oatmeal to your meal prep routine so it's ready to go during the week. Baked oatmeal is a great way to make a big batch of oatmeal you can load with fruit, while overnight oats is a simple way to make individual portions without having to actually cook anything.

    More: Get a recipe for blueberry baked oatmeal or a recipe for overnight oats.

    Looking for more healthy cooking inspiration? Check out these posts:

    23 Healthy Foods Everyone Should Know How To Cook

    20-Minute Healthy Dinner Ideas

    25 Cheat Sheets That Make Cooking Healthier Less Of A Freaking Chore