Why should you take an hour to prep your food for the week? Because, you are more apt to cook on busy nights, you will waste less food, less dishes to wash! You will also eat healthier and not stop on the way home for take out.
I just read a book titled The Daniel Fast. In it, the author says to prep your food for the week when you come home from the grocery store. Reading that , motivated me to give it a try and now I want to do it every week! So why would I want to spend an hour of my weekend washing and chopping? Because when I come home from work on Monday, I am going to cook up a quick dinner with less dishes which makes me eat healthier; because if I am overwhelmed with the thought of dinner, I am going to call my husband and ask him to pick up dinner for us at a nearby restaurant.
Back it up a step to before I go grocery shopping. I write out a basic meal plan for the week. This varies for me because I do not like to cook and eat the same things. I like to try new recipes, change that to: I MUST try new recipes. I love looking at recipes online, in magazines and cookbooks. My husband is the exact opposite, by the way, he doesn’t like to vary his meals so much. A lot of nights we eat different dinners. It just works for us, since it’s just us two at home.
After I make my menu, I use these menu/ shopping lists http://theprojectgirl.com (Click on the link then scroll down to her popular posts on the right side of her blog and click on free download of menu planning- I use the second one down) I print out a bunch at a time. When I’m making the list I try to keep in mind my schedule and which days I need quick dinners and what days I should have time to cook a longer recipe. I am flexible with my menus and switch them around as needed. After I have the list made, I go to the refrigerator to see what items I have and which ones I need. At this time, I toss out old leftovers, produce etc. I like to know whats in the fridge when i go shopping and make room for bringing home new food.
After shopping, I wash and prep foods as much as I can. I have my recipes on a stand in front of me while I prep the items for that meal so I can see what foods I can store together. For instance, if I’m making a soup I chop carrots, celery, peppers and put them in a bowl or baggie together, since they all go into the pan at the same time. This is also a time when I will realize if I forgot to get an item and decide if I have a substitute or should I stop at some time and get it. If I need to take a meat or other item out of the freezer to defrost, this is when I do it if I didn’t do it already.
Things I do not prep ahead of time are foods that brown of course like bananas, apples and pears. I tear, not cut lettuce so it won’t brown as quickly but don’t mix it with other ingredients until you are ready to eat the lettuce. You don’t want soggy lettuce.
A perk of doing all the cooking prep is that you can use the same knife and cutting board for all vegetables. I just wipe it off and keep using it! I reuse dishes and bags when possible also. If I use a container for prepped vegetables, after I cook, I can probably use that bowl for the leftovers to be stored in. I use the produce bag from the grocery store as a garbage bag on the counter when i prep, or lay it flat and peel carrots or potatoes onto it for easy clean up. I rinse the cilantro when I get home and stand it up in a cup of water like you would cut flowers, then I put the produce bag loosely over the cilantro and cup and put it in the door of the fridge with other bottles beside so it doesn’t fall over. Then i can just grab a pinch of cilantro for pretty much every meal because everything is better with cilantro!
For the mornings I am leaving first thing in the morning, I put a jar of oats and almond milk – or whatever milk you prefer in the refrigerator for easy grab and go.
I use half as much dry oats as liquid. If I have frozen berries, I put some of those in there too. Gently turn it over a few times to mix. If Im’ using fresh fruit, I put those in, in the morning. Just cover the jar and put it back in the fridge.
Next morning I add crunchy bits such as seeds/ nuts. Put the lid back on and gently turn it over again a few times to mix. Grab a spoon and go.
Those are my ways to prep food for the week, comment below for your prep ahead ideas.