Prepping a week’s worth of food on one day may seem like a daunting task, and a little intimidating at first. Chances are it will take some practice, but once you get the hang of it, all you will need is about 2 – 3 hours and you’ll have prepped food for you and your family for a whole week! Think of all that extra time you will have throughout the week to relax or hit the gym!
Here are a few things that help make food prep less stressful and keep me from spending all day in the kitchen.
Number 1: Learn to love lists
I make two very important lists that keep my head straight for food prep. The first list is of everthing I plan to prepare, and the second list is of all the ingredients I need to purchase in order to make them. Nothing is more frustrating than not having the right ingredients or completely forgetting to make something. I like to use the Reminders app on my iPad to make my lists. Once I complete a task, I simply check the item off. Simple.
Number 2: Have your recipes ready
Whether its online or in my overflowing recipe binder, I always have my recipes out so I can mentally check off every ingredient as I go. Trust me on this one. I’ve made several batches of protein muffins and forgot the eggs or a sweetener of some kind because I told myself I didn’t need to check the recipe, or I got distracted for a moment by one of the kids. Muffins without eggs or a sweetener of some kind make a horrible snack.
If you’re trying out a new recipe, read the entire list of ingredient and instructions first! Then, read them again to make sure you didn’t miss something.
Number 3: Mise en Place
This a fancy french word that chefs use and means “putting in place”. In other words, getting all of your ingredients, utensils, pots, pans, spices, everything ready and set up before you start mixing and cooking. This is key in professional kitchens and is a must as a home cook too. Chop all your veggies, trim the meats, find your spices, and measure out the liquids. These simples steps will kee p you from pulling out your hair when you realize you need something lickity-split.
Number 4: Use the timer
I never ever, ever assume I will remember what time I put something in the oven or let something simmer. Prepping for a week means a lot of multi-tasking. Prepping for a week with two kids means a lot of multi-tasking AND distractions. Burning a weeks worth of anything because I forget about is no fun.
Number 5: Keep it clean
Nothing irks me more than having to prep my food in a dirty kitchen. I do as many dishes while prepping as I do cooking. I don’t have an unlimited stock of mixing bowls, food processors or pots and pans, so I wash every pot, spatula and bowl as I go. It’s a lot of alternating between cooking and washing and cooking and washing, but with the amount of food I make, I need to have a place to put things…most of the time in a hurry.
Number 6: Eliminate clutter
Designate one area as the place to set things when your done to eliminate clutter. I like to use my tall kitchen island. It’s out of the way, but close enough for me to keep an eye on in case the dogs (or kids) get any ideas about sneaking a bite or two. This also ensures that I let things cool completely before portioning and keeps cross contamination with raw food items from happening. Plus, it makes for one great photo op when I’m done for the day.
For more examples of what to prep, visit our Food Prep page!