I feel like I fell off the blog post-writing wagon last week. Sorry! And, not sorry. Building a a business and maintaining another business keeps this girl busy, busy, busy. Today’s trick helps keep me on track when everything else is going off the rails, maybe it will help you too.
We’re a month in to the new year and a new decade. If you made any health or diet related resolutions, (who hasn’t?) this habit will help you to keep them. Preparing food ahead of time frees up precious minutes from your morning, lunchtime or dinner routine. This past Saturday, while I was already in the kitchen cooking the bacon for our BLT’s, I spent some time chopping veggies. I peeled and cut carrot sticks, I washed and chopped a full bunch of celery, I washed and trimmed a bunch of radishes and peeled and sliced a cucumber. Some of this was enjoyed with our dinner, but the rest I put away in Pyrex lidded storage containers in our fridge. I was so pleased to have that healthy stash in my fridge.
Consider some other ways you could put this habit to use. If you have a meal plan for the week ahead, you could pre-cut all your veggies, pre-marinade all your meats and prepare all your dressings or sauces. Then, when you’re ready to prepare your meal, everything is ready to go and will make your dinner hour so much easier. I do my grocery shopping on Fridays. For meal planning, I usually jot down ideas from Friday to Thursday based on sales at my local grocery-and things I know my family will eat. We usually never eat in the order written down, but it’s easy to shift the menu around for time constraints when everything we need is in the fridge or pantry.
What are some other ways you can prepare food ahead of time? Here’s what has worked for me in the past.
- Leftover white or brown rice makes excellent fried rice (Make extra every time you have your rice cooker out). We also use leftover rice for rice pudding.
- When you’re making a casserole for dinner, make two. The extra one can be tightly wrapped in foil and saved in the freezer for later. This works for almost anything else: banana bread, cookies, soup, beans, etc.
- If you make meatballs for dinner one night, make extra for meatball subs the next day.
- Boil up a few eggs at the beginning of the week so you have one available for a quick snack or extra protein on your salad.
- When you buy salad greens, kale, parsley or cilantro, wash it all right away and spin it in your salad spinner so you have clean greens and you can skip that step when you need them.
- Cook more chicken than you need for your recipe and use the rest for chicken salad, chicken tacos or soup
- Cook all the bacon in a package at once and then stash the rest for a pot of soup or scalloped potatoes later in the week. (Requires will-power)
- This one is crazy, but we love putting leftover, fried mashed potatoes in tacos with black beans and chicken
My teenaged son is amazing. He gets himself up really early, packs his own lunch and gets himself to school before the sun or myself have even gotten up. To keep things simple, he really likes handy pre-packaged snacks. I keep the lunch/snack basket (below) stocked to streamline his morning routine. (He doesn’t eat the seaweed, that’s mine.)
An extra hour in the kitchen on a weekend can save you and your family several hours over the course of a week in preparation, dishes and cleaning. It’s made even easier when you turn on music, a movie or a podcast to keep your mind busy while you fill your fridge with the key ingredients of delicious salads, lunches and dinners.
What are you going to do this week to be kind to your future self? Might I suggest you start in the kitchen?