What's all the buzz about food prep?
My Husband and I both work full time jobs, live with a high school aged teen and own a couple of pets. Our lives can be fairly busy and I am always looking for ways to simplify the process of making dinner. I have seen a lot of buzz these days about food prep. Prepping lunches to save money and eat right, prepping breakfast to take “on-the-go”, prepping dinners and freezing pre-made foods, etc. All this food prep talk has inspired me to share my version of weekly food prep. I have found it saves Time, Money and Sanity- which are really the three pillars of professional organizing.
I prefer to prep dinners. In our home we like to sit down as a family every evening and share dinner together, and we prefer to have nutritious, tasty, freshly made food whenever possible. Starting from scratch every night can be tedious, frustrating and exhausting. Shopping weekly with only a vague plan can lead to food waste and costs us so much more money in the long run, so each Saturday I create a plan and shop for it. Each Sunday I dedicate an hour or two to basic food prep so that cooking and cleaning time on the weekdays is minimal.
There are several steps to this process:
Scanning- What is in my fridge and pantry?
Grocery flyer- What is on sale in my market this week that we like, works with what we need to use, is versatile.
5-7 day Menu- What am I going to make?
Grocery List/ Shopping- Heading to the store armed with a list.
Pre-week prep work- Doing some serious food prep work to set up the week.
Let’s start with Scanning.
The more often you prep, the less “need to use “ items you will find in your refrigerator and pantry. For anyone just beginning the process of food prep I highly recommend you begin with organizing the pantry and removing expired foods.
Scan your refrigerator. Is there anything on the verge? Too many lemons? Some greens about to become compost? Maybe there is a piece of salmon or chicken in the freezer that needs to be used. Take a look, write down what you have and think about recipes you have made that include these items.
Next I like to look at the weather for the coming week. Is it going to be stormy? Is a blizzard on the way? Maybe it will be very humid. Take weather into consideration as you plan your menu.
Your local Grocery Flyer
Now open up you weekly grocery flyer (or check it out on line) Are organic rainbow peppers half price? Cans of black beans on sale? Whole chickens on special this week? Make a note of the sale items you would normally use (if you eat organic and conventional broccoli is on sale, it really does not make sense to buy it. Buy the things you use when they are on sale)
5-7 day Menu-
Now that I know the weather, what needs to be used in the fridge and what is on sale, I can plan my meals. This particular week organic rainbow bell peppers are on sale, and the weather is spring-y so I know we'll have a big salad one night and fajitas on another. I have some zucchini in the fridge and Romenesco is also on sale this week. I can almost always get brussel sprouts...so maybe a stir fry. We have salmon in the freezer. Here is what I decide to make.....
Monday- Big Salad
Tuesday- Chicken Fajitas/Bowls
Wednesday- Salmon Stir Fry
Thursday- Buddah Bowls
Friday- Tuna Melt
Saturday- Pad Thai Zoodles
Grocery List/ Shopping Here is what I need on the grocery list to pull this off:
Fresh Beets (yellow or red) with tops
Radish or other preferred salad veg ( you can be very flexible with salad)
Eggs ( we use them and I will use several on the salad)
Rainbow red peppers
Quinoa ( My family has fajitas, I mix the fillings in a bowl with quinoa)
Romenesco ( or broccoli or cauliflower )
Large Ciabatta Bread
Here we go, the much dreaded grocery shopping. In order to make my shopping experience a bit easier, I like to rewrite my list by grocery aisle....It is a sanity and time saving step for me. I organize the list by produce, nuts coffee spices, snack foods, dairy, meat and bread, frozen, pet, broth, oils, pasta, canned goods, cereal, baking, because this is roughly how my store is lay out is and how I move through it.
Finally there is food prep- but that is a story for another day. Stay tuned for a picture filled tutorial on how to prep for the week ahead without giving up your entire Sunday.