A meal prep influencer shares 6 of his favorite cooking hacks : Life Kit What's for dinner? It's a question that can lead to overspending on delivery, unhealthy meals and dread. FitMenCook founder Kevin Curry shares meal prep techniques that can alleviate stress and save money.

A meal prep influencer shares 6 of his favorite cooking hacks

A meal prep influencer shares 6 of his favorite cooking hacks

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Close up of man in his 20s cutting bell peppers at home in the kitchen and engaging in meal prep.
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When Kevin Curry was growing up, he never had to think about cooking meals for himself. His parents were in charge of dinner. And at school, lunch was taken care of.

As he got older, he realized, "Whoa. I have to feed myself. How do I do that?" he says. What's more, he wanted to eat healthy food without spending hundreds of dollars a month eating out.

Kevin Curry is the founder of FitMenCook, an online community that shares healthy recipes for meal prep. Kathy Tran hide caption

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Kathy Tran

So Curry turned to meal prepping as a solution. It's the concept of cooking food ahead of time to eat later. That can mean making meals on Sunday and eating the leftovers all week or prepping ingredients and freezing them to eat sometime in the future.

Curry, who is now the founder of FitMenCook, an online community with over 1.6 million followers on Instagram that shares healthy recipes for meal prep, says there are benefits to making your food in advance. It can be more nutritious because you know exactly which ingredients you're putting into your body. It can save you money. And it solves the age-old question: "What am I going to eat?"

He shares some of his favorite meal-prepping hacks with Life Kit.

1. Prep individual ingredients to mix and match throughout the week. Curry says he meal preps on Wednesdays and Sundays. On these nights, he'll spend 45 minutes cooking five dishes to mix and match over the next few days — for example, chickpeas, chicken, jasmine rice, roasted vegetables and a green medley of spinach, chard and kale.

"With those five foods I prepped, I made about ten different meal combinations," he says. One day you might want chicken, rice and greens, another day you might want chickpeas, greens and chicken. Transform the flavor of each meal with different condiments like tahini dressing or barbecue sauce.

2. Avoid foods that spoil quickly, like dairy products, fresh berries and anything that might get soggy once it's been sitting in the fridge for a couple days. If you want these ingredients in your meals, "plant-based options [for dairy products like oat milk] store really well," as do berries that are already frozen, he says.

3. Prep ingredients that you actually like. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you think lentils taste like cardboard, you probably shouldn't make a large batch of them to eat all week.

4. Think beyond brown rice. It's a low-cost, nutrient-packed staple for many make-ahead meals, but it's not the only grain in town, says Curry. "I've discovered black rice, forbidden rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice and quinoa," while meal prepping. And lately, he's been loving farro, a high-protein, high-fiber, whole-grain wheat.

5. Consider making a "hero meal." Prepare a big meal, like a whole casserole dish of lasagna, eat a couple servings during the week — then freeze portions of it for later. Curry calls this a "hero meal" because you're a hero for making that whole recipe. "It's a big lift," he says. "It's also like, 'Ooh, look what I did.' "

6. Figure out your reheat strategy. Some items will reheat best in the microwave, while others call for a stovetop sauté or some time in the oven. Curry shares his favorite way to reheat pizza: "Put it into a skillet and crisp up the bottom and it's kind of like you just got it brand new," he says. Then, cover up the pan to melt the cheese on top.

For more meal-prepping tips, listen to the full interview with Curry.

The audio portion of this episode was produced by Clare Marie Schneider, with engineering support from Stacey Abbott. It was edited by Meghan Keane. The digital story was edited by Malaka Gharib. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at LifeKit@npr.org.

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