Prep Ahead Food Items To Ease Your Busy Week

We can all do with tips to make life simpler in the kitchen. These tips are tried and tested and with a little prep you won’t be running through your busy week trying to put a meal on your table.

From the moment I wake up, I’m running between the kids, husband, kitchen, laptop and the kids’ pick up and drop for their classes. Needless to say, it’s exhausting. There have been days in the past when the cook hasn’t come and we have reached home just in time for dinner. The kids are hungry and a little cranky by the end of the day (so am I) and I don’t have time to chop, wash and cook a full meal. Those have been our breakfast-dinner days – eggs & toast, everyone!

But now armed with a meal plan for the week and a few more things I keep prepped things have become much calm (er). Doing a meal prep for the week can really help.

These are the things I keep prepped to make my life simpler in the kitchen.    


I keep sliced onions & chopped onions in ziplocks. I also get onion grated and half saute them and keep in a glass container. I know seems like a lot of onions. But in Indian cooking, we end up putting using onions in almost everything. I have these removable storage boxes for my fridge which make it easy for me to compartmentalize things. Depending on what’s on the meal plan, with this basic ingredient prepped it takes time off the time I spend in the kitchen. 

Onions are supposed to be gassy and cutting them and storing releases chemicals – which is why you cry when you chop onions. Soak them in cold water before you chop them with a sharp knife. Also to avoid the fridge from smelling store the onions in sealed containers once you put them in the ziplock. Store for 4-5 days at a stretch max.

Tomato Puree

Tomatoes tend to spoil faster than onions. So I make tomato pureé ahead of time and pour into ice-cube trays & freeze. I prefer to measure out how many tablespoons fit in one cube so I know how much I need later. Once they have frozen I pop them out and store in freezer bags to be used as & when. You may think how long does it take to grate or chop tomatoes, but trust me once you start with this you’ll be thanking me.

Note: You don’t need to cook the tomatoes before you freeze them. 

Boiled Dal

Boiled dal? Two whistles in a pressure cooker and dal is cooked in most cases.  But when you’re running against the clock everything takes so much longer. If I know I have a bowl of boiled dal in the fridge then all I need to do it the ‘chaunk’ . Sometimes just ghee, hing & jeera; on other days the already prepped chopped onions and pureed tomatoes are taken out and sauteed quickly. If the family is not in a mood for dal & rice, then you can just mix the boiled dal with some spices and make a dal paratha dough and a wholesome meal is almost ready.

Ginger & Garlic Paste

The ginger & garlic should be peeled, roughly chopped and blended in the mixer along with a little salt and no water till smooth. Store the paste in an airtight container in the freezer. It will last for at least 3 months. I also store peeled & finely chopped garlic for those quick stir-fry meals. 

Boiled Potatoes

I always always have some boiled potatoes in the fridge – a simple jeera aloo or aloo paratha makes for a quick meal. We all love our chaat. So with boiled potatoes, chopped onions and dhania chutney in the fridge, those bhelpuri cravings can be sorted quite easily.

Cooked Rice

A bowl of cooked rice in the fridge is absolutely essential. We all love rice. Our favourites like egg fried rice or lemon rice come out so much better with cold rice. If you cook these with freshly cooked rice, you’re sure to get a clumpy bowl. Also if I have some rice in the fridge, all I need to do is take the boiled dal out and temper it and we have dinner on the table. We have some amazing recipes you can make with leftover rice.

Dosa Batter

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You know a bowl of dosa batter in the fridge is a lifesaver – any time of the day. The best thing it can easily keep for up to a week. You can make idlis with the dosa batter, you can make paniyarams when you are bored of eating idli and dosa or roll out some uttapams for a quick breakfast. You can give this one batter different forms depending on your mood that day.  

Green Leaves

By green leaves I mean coriander leaves (hara dhania), curry leaves (kari patta) & mint leaves (pudina). Once summer comes these essential flavour boosters get scarce and tend to spoil. I have tried and tested this and my leaves keep green for weeks – wash the leaves and let them dry out – not for too long that they start wilting. Once they are dry put them flat out in a ziplock bag. Remove all the air from the bag and pop it in the fridge. I promise they will stay that way for weeks! No last-minute runs to the market if you run out of green chutney or want to temper the sambhar to go with that idli batter sitting in your fridge. 

Green Peas

Fresh green peas (mattar is still in the market. Put the whole family to work over the weekend and get everyone to chip in and shell a few kilos of peas. In my house, half the shelled peas go into our tummies and the only part of it manages to make it to their destination – the freezer. Let me tell you a bag of peas in the freezer is a lifesaver always – so many things to cook with them! What’s your favourite way to cook them?

Besides the above, there are other things you can do to keep your mornings stress free.

If you have handy tips that could help a busy mom, please do share them with us. Talk to us in the comments below, we love hearing from you.

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