Why Food Prep?
Food prep is all the rage, and for good reason! With life becoming increasingly complicated and busy, healthy homemade meals often get lost in the shuffle. When the choice is between whipping up a gourmet dinner or chauffeuring your kids to soccer, well…there really isn’t a choice, is there? So while you’re out picking up your little athletes, picking up some take-out is often the path of least resistance.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Being organized in the kitchen can save you time, money and even improve your health. Pinterest is full of a million and one food prepping recipes for every diet imaginable (which we highly recommend checking out) but we have some tips for making the actual process work for you.
Tip #1: Clean Out Your Fridge
Ok, ok, ok…we can hear you all the way over here.
“What does cleaning out my fridge have to do with food prep?!?”
And we feel that, but unfortunately, a clean fridge is really the first step to successful prepping. If you have a bunch of containers filling up your fridge from weeks past, your new food is going to get mixed up and pushed around and ultimately wasted.
So before you start creating menus and shopping, take everything out of your fridge. Wipe down the shelves and drawers and only put back the food that is truly going to be eaten. Don’t hold on to bottles of exotic sauces or trendy ingredients that you thought would be fun to cook with but never have. Hanging on to food because you feel wasteful is just a decision deferred. Eventually, it will have to be thrown away. Go ahead and be ruthless now and more thoughtful going forward.
Tip #2: Keep The Menu Simple
There’s a time and place to get adventurous in the kitchen. New recipes, trendy appliances, and unique produce can all be fun, but they can also be disastrous when it comes to prepping your meals for the week. That recipe may look amazing online, but if it’s not a crowd pleaser, you may be stuck with a huge hole in your lineup. Stick with the classics and the week’s meals will go smoothly. Save your grandmother’s famous osso bucco for a day when you have ample time to enjoy the process.
Tip #3: Create Theme Nights
This may sound simplistic or too regimented for you, but hear us out. If you have a theme such as Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesdays, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every single week. It gives you a jumping off point for creativity. Meatless Monday could be anything from pasta to chili to vegetarian subs. Tacos could be filled with fish, beef or chicken. Just because the theme is the same doesn’t mean things will have to be boring, and working within a framework will keep you going week after week.
Tip #4: Buy Prepared Food
While food prep is obviously about…prepping food, there’s no need to make it as difficult as possible. Sure, peeled and precut butternut squash may be a bit more expensive than buying it whole, but it’s cheaper than eating out. There’s no shame in cutting a few corners to give yourself time to get other things done. Also, don’t underestimate Mother Nature’s prepackaged food. Think bananas, apples, grapes, and nuts of all kinds.
Tip #5: Cook Enough Food For Multiple Meals
Consider ingredients that can be used in multiple meals throughout the week. That chicken you cooked for Taco Tuesday can also be used in Chicken Noodle Soup on Friday. Or the vegetables you roasted for your work lunches can be added to a veggie pizza. It may seem like a lot when you’re actually prepping the foods, but making enough for the whole week is a game changer.
Tip #6: Enlist Helpers
Make your weekly food prep day a family affair. From planning out the menus to washing and peeling vegetables, everyone in the home can particpate! Don’t be afraid to delegate. If all members of the family are included in the process, you’ll be less likely to hear complaints and requests for take out. Additionally, if you don’t have to do everything on your own, you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan yourself.
Tip #7: Choose Good Containers
Our preference for storage containers is primarily glass and we love these! They work great for stacking and the clear tops allow you to easily locate what you’re looking for. But there are definitely times when plastic works better and if that’s your preference, we recommend this set. Of course, you can use what you already have. Just make sure that everything is clearly marked and visible so you don’t end up with some scary mystery container in the back of the fridge!
Food prep can definitely be overwhelming at times. To be honest, we have our good weeks and our bad weeks. But we’re always so relieved when the “what’s for dinner?” question has a healthy homemade answer! Our entire schedule works better when we don’t have to plan, shop and cook on a daily basis. Hopefully, these tips will help you with your food prepping so your time can be better spent doing other things!