One of the smartest things I ever started doing was devoting one afternoon each week to food prep: a few hours to get a big chunk of the week’s cooking out of the way ahead of time. Let’s face it…
we are each granted 24 hours in the day to use as we see fit, but when people say things like, “I don’t have time to cook healthy” I often wonder if there are ways they could buy themselves more time (less social networking maybe?). Ultimately, if it’s important to you and you’re serious about your health, you’ll find the time.
I think part of what intimidates people about cooking – at least when they’re starting out with a new way of eating (seriously, can we stop using the term “diet” for Paleo?!) – is that they think they must cook 21 times a week…B-L-D x 7! If you’re opposed to eating leftovers but are super busy and want to eat healthier, the only thing I can say is that you have to get over it. Work smarter, not harder.
Here’s part of my weekly prep day:
- Hard boil a dozen eggs.
- Steam 2 bags of kale.
- Saute one head of chopped cabbage in coconut oil.
- Roast diced squash.
- Roast 6-12 sweet potatoes/yams.
- Saute 2# of ground meat (beef, turkey, pork etc)
- Slow cook 2-3# of chicken breasts or pork loin in the crockpot with sliced onion and peppers, a can of diced tomato and spices. Shred the meat when it’s done cooking.
Here are some suggestions for making cooking and food prep less painful:
- Cook in a couple big batches. I do one big cooking day on Sunday and another small one during the week. The rest is heat and eat.
- Make staple items like cooked veggies and meats which you dress up with different seasonings and spices.
- Invest in an army of proper storage containers. It will keep food fresher longer than flimsy plastic wrap on top of a bowl! My favorite is Glasslock Snapware (online here or at Costco). It does NOT leak, and I prefer the idea of heating up glass better than plastic.
- Wash and prep produce as soon as you get it home from the market (ex: slice or dice peppers, dice onions, etc) and store in individual containers. Check out how Jessica Camacho does it!
- Portion out all lunches, for example, for the week at one time.
- Freeze extra portions if you make too much (works especially well for crock pot or casserole type recipes).
- Keep a running shopping list on your phone so you can easily edit.
- This sounds obvious, but don’t do a task twice if you don’t have to. Go through 6 hard boiled eggs a week? Do it all at once instead of 3 now and 3 mid-week. Learn what quantities work best for you and stick to them so you can go on autopilot at the market.
There are so many other clever suggestions that I’m sure folks are doing right now to make their lives easier and ways of eating much healthier. Try some of these if you’re feeling stuck in a rut! What do you do to save time in the kitchen (and calling for takeout doesn’t count!)?