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These 5 Simple Meal Prep Hacks Make Weeknight Cooking a Breeze

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(BPT) - Face it — even if you enjoy cooking, weeknight meal prep can be stressful after a long day. If you're looking to elevate your meals without sacrificing more time and effort, check out these tips and tools to meal prep with ease.

1. Plan for weeknight delight

List favorite dinners to create weekly menus. Identify the most time-consuming part of each dish, then do advance prep on weekends to help save time later.

Consider cooking some protein ahead, as cooked chicken or turkey can last up to five days in the fridge. Chop veggies you'll need and store in the fridge. Measure ingredients like dried herbs and spices to save on prep later. Label each container by meal and day so you'll be ready to create your family faves in no time — even on busy weeknights.

2. Store ingredients thoughtfully

Be sure that your prepped ingredients are stored carefully. Wash and dry greens, then store in reusable, airtight containers lined with paper towels. If using resealable plastic bags, push out air to reduce oxidation. Group each meal's items together in your fridge so they're easy to find.

3. Use time-saving tools

Today's kitchen gadgets can save time and help you cook consistently high-quality food. For example, the new KitchenAid® Grain and Rice Cooker takes care of measuring and monitoring for you by automatically sensing how much grain has been added, dispensing the right amount of water and simmering it to perfection, every time. You can even use it for a wide variety of grains and beans including rice, beans, oats, couscous, quinoa, barley, farro and more.

Need to plan ahead? With the KitchenAid® Grain and Rice Cooker you can schedule cooking up to 24 hours in advance, and once the cooking is done, it will automatically keep grains at serving temperature for up to six hours. You can use the Steam Cooking Mode for veggies, eggs, fish and more, using an included steamer basket that fits above the cooking pot to steam those other ingredients while the grains cook below. Tools like this can save tons of time, taking the guesswork out of cooking, and you don't have to babysit a pot.

Learn more about the KitchenAid® Grain and Rice Cooker at KitchenAid.com.

4. Embrace globally-inspired recipes

Add variety and boost flavor with easy-to-prep recipes like this Kimchi Brown Fried Rice. Consider doubling the recipe so you'll have plenty for later in the week.

Kimchi Brown Fried Rice

95 minutes; 4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup long grain brown rice (uncooked)

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (divided)

2 large garlic cloves (crushed)

8 ounces enoki or cremini mushrooms (ends trimmed)

2 teaspoons gochujang (paste)

1 1/2 cups kimchi (cabbage)

2 tablespoons kimchi juice

3 green onions (thinly sliced)

3 tablespoons dried seaweed (gim or nori, crumbled)

Fried eggs (optional topping/add-in)

Spam (sliced, optional topping/add-in)

Directions

1. Using the KitchenAid® Grain and Rice Cooker, select "Long Grain Brown Rice" menu option and set cooking liquid to water. Choose "regular" to confirm texture setting and allow rice to cook. When rice is cooked, remove bowl from cooker and let cool uncovered 10 minutes, fluffing occasionally to release heat and steam.

2. While rice is cooling, heat 5 quart saute pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil, then add mushrooms and toss to fully coat in oil. Saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Thinly slice garlic, then mash with fork until crushed. Add garlic and gochujang to mushrooms, stir, and continue to saute mixture another minute. Use wooden spatula to scrape pan and move mushroom mixture to the side.

4. Swirl remaining sesame oil in pan, then add cooked rice to the oil. Use spatula to turn rice in oil to coat, then pull mushroom mixture on top of rice and spread rice flat into the full bottom of the pan. Allow rice to fry one minute, undisturbed, then fry another 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping pan as you fry.

5. Add chopped kimchi and kimchi juice over rice, stir to fully incorporate, then press rice into flat layer in the pan. Fry, undisturbed, for another minute. Turn off heat, top with sliced green onions and crumbled seaweed, stir, then serve.

5. Create intentional leftovers

Cooking up big batches of rice or beans in your rice cooker for one meal provides plenty of leftovers to use later that week. By doubling up these components, you'll have a head start on another night's meal.

Using these tips, you can relax and enjoy creating tasty meals with less hassle, any night of the week.


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