In The Bachelor’s Kitchen you have planned out your meals for the week. You used your grocery store ad and recipes to make your grocery list. You did your shopping and now you’re home. You have all your containers and tools ready. Now you just have to find that hour a week to do your food prep.
Start with the proteins. Beef or pork can be marinated. Chicken for shredding or chopping can go into a slow cooker. These can be allowed to do their thing while you prepare other ingredients. Fish can be cleaned and filleted, then well wrapped and put away for use in the next day or two.
Another step to save time is to pre-heat your oven while you are preparing other things. When it’s hot, batch cook protein and vegetables for use later. While the oven is heating, do the laborious prep work for the vegetables. Get the peeling, washing and chopping finished and put them away in your containers, jars or bags. For example, if you have more than one recipe for the week that requires chopped onion, chop the whole thing and stash it in the refrigerator so that when you’re cooking, you can just take what you need, and put the rest back for use later in the week.
We highly recommend making a pot of rice and/or beans every week or so. Both are great for use later. They can be used hot or cold, together or separate. Day-old rice is just what you need to make a stir-fry or fried rice. Beans are both a great side dish and a good source of protein for a main dish. Cooking your own dried beans is way better than canned. Having them cooked and ready to go is just the same, only better. Other grains work this way, like quinoa, farrow or barley. Dried beans will have to soak overnight in most cases, so you can make the rice while you are doing your prep work and put the beans to soak, then cook them the next night.
Finally, do all the little odds and ends remaining. This is where having your recipes handy comes in. Measure out ingredients that will be added together and put in containers to use when the time comes to cook. Among the things in this category are stir-fry veggies, salad fixings and fresh fruit. Other things you can do are making marinades or homemade salad dressings, zest or juice citrus and thaw frozen proteins or made-ahead meals.
And what do you do if you are having trouble getting your hour-a-week prep time in? Well, there are shortcuts you can use to save time.
- Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables can be a big time saver. We like frozen veggies best for many dishes, like the aforementioned stir-fries. They are already cleaned and chopped. Fresh cut vegetables and fruits have a shorter shelf life and cost a lot more, but some, like pre-cut veggies, are often worth it.
- Tackle the most difficult meals first. If dinner is the problem, concentrate on those menus and recipes and put them first in your prep work plan. If it’s breakfast, then put together a breakfast casserole or other quick breakfast meals. For lunches, put together salads, sides and even some entrees the night before so you just have to grab and go.
- Give yourself permission to break up that hour prep work into smaller bites. The night before is a good time. If you are good at multitasking, you can cook dinner and prep the next days meals at the same time. Remember, you have to find the plan of attack that works for you.
- We always advise not trying to cook for just one. It becomes more difficult. Just make a meal for two or four servings and put the rest away for leftovers. You can store the individual dishes, or you can put together your own frozen dinner to pop into the microwave when you get home from work.
- If you have a family, you can delegate some of the work to other members of the family. After all, they will be benefitting from your cooking.
The key to losing weight and improving your health is to get plenty of rest and cook your own food. No matter what it is, it’s still better than eating out.