Plan, Prep For Easy Meal Planning

The Bachelor’s Kitchen Eating Plan combines many of the new things I keep learning about food and cooking. We have found that planning ahead can make things easier, healthier, and more enjoyable. We have learned about the need to have a well-stocked pantry and to avoid keeping unhealthy foods in that pantry. 

Another aspect of the planning part of our Eating Plan is making sure you don’t find yourself working over a hot stove after a long day of work. That can lead to the bad, old bachelor eating patterns of fast food, take-out, and frozen pizza. Those are okay as a treat, but they shouldn’t be your “go-to” when you’re busy, as most people are these days. 

So, part of that means consolidating and shortening food preparation times. If you do it right, you can do most, if not all, of your week’s food prep in about an hour each week. You might recall that our plan means devoting a couple hours a week to help take care of yourself which includes eating. 

Step one is to develop an eating plan, not just what you’ll have for dinner, but all of your meals including snacks. This should just be a general outline, nothing is ever written in stone. Just because you have things planned out doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible when needed. Food should not be a chore, but a celebration of our own lives.

Step two is to see what’s available. What’s in your pantry? What pantry foods are likely to spoil soon? What’s on sale at the grocery store this week? That will help you be economical, which most of us need to be. 

Step three is to choose a couple of recipes you can make using the sale items at the store. This usually means picking a couple of proteins and then filling out the rest of the meal with side dishes. When cooking recipes, think about ingredients that are in common so you don’t waste food. Also, think about filling all the other meals, like breakfast and lunch. This will make things go quicker in the morning. You can also ensure variety in your meals rather than leaning on the same handful of foods for those meals. For example, some people have cold cereal with milk every morning. Others are fans of tea and toast. For lunch, we often look to a handful of easy-to-manage foods, like salads, sandwiches, soups, potato and tortilla chips, or take-out.

Step four, making a grocery shopping list, is essential. That does not mean you can’t pick up one or two impulse items. But if you do it right, you should be able to zip through the store because you just have to follow the list. That will cut down on shopping time. Also, make sure you have all the ingredients for your planned meals and recipes, either already in your pantry or on your grocery list. 

Next comes the preparation step, Step five. Here’s what you need to know about that:

Food Prep Tips For Beginners

Do What Works For You. Some people find it easier to do their shopping one day and their preparation and cooking the next. Others will want to build preparation times into their cooking times ahead of each meal. If you have the time, that works just fine. But if you don’t have a lot of time, combining your preparations into just an hour a week also works. 

Start Small. If you’ve never done a lot of food prep before, start with just a single meal for the week. For example, you could do all the washing and chopping for salads or make a batch of breakfast sandwiches, a casserole, or other homemade quick breakfast. Then, you can add in the prep for other meals. 

Do your prep work when you get home from the store. You save a lot of time and hassle by only having to put the food away once. Also, you’ll be more motivated to get it done when it’s all laid out on the kitchen counter. Many people find this very effective. 

Keep your meal plan and recipes in a convenient location. That might be on the refrigerator door or the bulletin board in the kitchen. Again, do what works best for you. If you have your plans ready, you have fewer excuses to not follow the plan you’ve laid out. Keep the plan up-to-date by making sure if you don’t follow the plan, you can re-plan that meal for a later date. 

It’s Not All Or Nothing. Too often we jump into something new with both feet and then get disappointed when things don’t work out as planned. That’s why we recommend you work your way into the full activation of your eating plan. The goal here is not necessarily to lose weight, but to get healthier, which will probably cause you to lose weight anyway. You don’t HAVE TO do all your prep work in one hour. It’s important to customize your plan to your tastes and nutritional needs and the amount of time you have to devote to it. It’s important to devote some time to taking care of yourself. If you don’t, who will? You’ll also find the preparing, portioning, and cooking of food will get easier and more fun. 

In a future post, we will talk about other food preparation essentials.