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If you want to improve your health and lose excess body fat, learning how to cook your own meals is probably the number one most important step you can take. But you shouldn’t let your packed schedule give you an excuse to avoid the kitchen and go for the less-than-ideal takeout.

Check out some of our favorite tips for saving time in the kitchen that still allow you to make healthy and delicious meals for you and your family. Tasty and brilliant ideas for the busiest among us!

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5 Meal Hacks to Help You Spend Less Time in the Kitchen

1. Prep veggies you can eat raw and cooked.

Easy-to-snack-on veggies like carrots, bell peppers, celery sticks, and cucumbers are perfect for a midday treat but also work well in dinners, salads, and sides. Chopping a bunch up beforehand saves you on time and calories.

2. Make your whole grains in bulk.

neals prep

Whether you love couscous, brown rice, or quinoa, you can save a lot of time by making a large serving of your complex carb at the beginning of the week and adding it to your weekly meals.

3. Buy frozen fruit for smoothies.

Smoothies and shakes sound like a good idea, but we all know mornings are busy. Throwing a cup of frozen berries into a blender filled with protein powder and your preferred milk (nut or dairy) is a quick and nutrient-dense way to start your day, without having to worry about whether you always have fresh fruit ready in the fridge.

4. Use the nighttime hours to your advantage.

Want to cook in your sleep? Try overnight oats or chia seed pudding. Simply prep, chuck in the fridge, and then enjoy in the morning when you wake up!

5. Purchase with a purpose.

When you go to the grocery store, go with a plan. Knowing exactly what you need and plan to buy before you get to the supermarket can save you tons of time and help you avoid impulse buys (which are notoriously unhealthy). Come with a list (based on your weekly recipes) and stick to it!

Have any other favorite quick tips for saving precious time in the kitchen? Let us know about it in the comments below!