The other day I posted some pictures on My One Fit Life’s private fb accountability group with food prep going down in my kitchen.
A friend commented, Oh, I need a lesson in food prep, so here it is, Robin! Your lesson.
First thing you should know: I’m a lazy cook. What does that mean? A couple of things actually.
1) It means if the recipe starts anything like this: In your food processor ~ I ‘may’ look at it to determine whether or not my blender will do the job. If not, poof. It’s gone. I don’t have a food processor, nor do I want one. Two other kitchen items, one an InstaPot. Just say no. I’m sure most think that’s heretical, but, I can’t fathom the need. Crockpot. Yes, I have one, no I don’t use it.
2) If the recipe has more than 5 ingredients, it’s typically POOF also. Sure, some of my personal ones do go above five, but when determining a new recipe, naa, like I said: Lazy Cook. Also, if by the time I’m done reading the instructions, and my eyes have glazed over, it’s gone.
As a homeschool mom of six, dinner making time was at a premium. There was a time when I actually did once a month cooking, but it got boring, and old. I also found that we tossed food, as the choices where limited.
Long before ‘food prep’ became an in thing, I did it. This is how it went down:
Day 1 – meal planning, and list.
Day 2 – shop.
Day 3 – this is the ‘fun’ day. Cook. I would cook ALL my ground beef, and then portion it out into zip-loc bags. I’d only season it as far as garlic/onion/salt and pepper, because any of those bags could turn into chili, goulash, lasagna, spaghetti, etc. I’d pre-cook various noodles. Just ‘most’ of the way, and freeze them also. Boil and bone chickens for different meals, too – Chicken Divan, chicken and dumplings, chicken salad, etc. We would lay all the zip-loc bags flat to optimize our freezer space, as we didn’t have a deep freeze, either.
Fast forward to my ‘food prep’ of today. My family dynamic has completely changed, as I no longer have six children at home, and I’m a widow, therefore, I cook for myself. That doesn’t change the importance of pre-planning, or pre-cooking. I still:
Day 1 – meal planning, and list
Day 2 – shop. Though, now, day two includes cooking.
It took me two hours to prepare:
Roasted beets; roasted brussel sprouts; bbq sauce; orange chicken; roasted sweet potatoes and creamy avocado dressing.
When you are roasting your veggies, add whatever seasoning you like. My sweets have onion, garlic, fennel, salt and pepper on them. Brussels have onion, salt, pepper and some balsamic vinaigrette. Season to your taste buds.
Make your recipes as simple as possible. Instead of making four gallons of chili sauce, make four gallons (hyperbole) of tomato sauce flavored with the basics. That way it can turn into anything that requires a red sauce. I mean, what if you have all that chili sauce and you decide to make manicotti? You’d have to make more sauce!
Personally, for me, the trick is, don’t over think it. Timing is everything. Think about your oven, and the time needed for each food. For instance, I made the bbq sauce first, as I wanted my chicken in the oven. When it went in, I prepared my beets, wrapped them up, and in the oven they went along side the chicken. Next, I got the brussel sprouts ready. Tossed them around in my cast-iron frying pan, and placed them in my toaster oven. I could have easily added the roasting (cookie sheet) pan to the bottom rack of my oven. I then chopped up my sweet potatoes, and WITHOUT CLEANING OUT THE FRYING PAN, I cooked them a bit. Don’t freak out about the ‘not cleaning the pan’ part. To me, this is half the battle. Re-use your stuff! You don’t need to wash you pan, your knife, your bowl, your blender, etc. If necessary, rinse it out. (For instance, if you goof and make your avocado spread before putting together your protein pancakes in your blender, then, yea, rinse it out. Your pancakes could taste funny).
While the chicken and the beets were finishing, I cleaned up the amazing mess that was now my kitchen. Chicken and beets came out; sweet potatoes went in.
Everything is now sitting nicely in my refrigerator waiting to be eaten as I see fit.
To re-cap: Plan and shop. Chop your onions and garlic for everything first. Make a plan of attack. i.e., what has to be done first. Cook your meats all at once, and freeze separately. Don’t wash everything in-between, wipe out and keep going. Make a mess. Drink a glass of wine. Dance to your favorite beat. Do dishes ONCE. Be a lazy cook.
Growing in Grace,