MEAL PREP LIKE A BOSS » + minimize time in the kitchen
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Finding time to eat well can be very difficult these days. Everything is important enough to require your maximum effort and attention: make time to exercise daily; spend more time your friends and family; get the highest grade in school; move to the highest ranked position at work… and then amidst all of that, there's the nagging voice that tells you, "you should be eating better."
I get it. It can be tough.
It makes sense most days to just eat out, get take-out, or pop that TV-dinner meal into the microwave.
But what if I told you eating well could actually save you time and money?
The solution is not a new one. In fact, it's a very old one. But the reason it hasn't gone away and keeps coming up is because it works! The answer: meal prep.
A one hour investment of meal prep will offer a return of several hours saved in the kitchen throughout the week. What's more: when time in the kitchen feels less burdensome, it means you'll be more likely to make meals at home more often. And when you make meals at home more often, you'll start to realize just how much money you're saving!... And that can start to feel real good. Rewarding experiences are what keeps us going back to them.
So fill your belly and your bank account, I say!
Here are a few tips on how to meal prep… like a boss:
How much do you hate cutting them? Seriously a heartbreak doesn't make you cry as much as these do.
So here are the tips:
Batch peel and quarter the onions, and instead of chopping them yourself, put them in a food processor and pulse them until they are coarsely chopped.
Then using just a little bit of oil in a non-stick pan, cook them on high heat until they soften. When they start to stick to the bottom, instead of adding more oil, just add about a quarter cup of water (75mL) and stir. This bring up the browning which helps to caramelize the onions better, and prevents them from burning. Plus it's way healthier than using more oil. Then repeat this as needed until all the onions are caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Place the onions in an air-tight container, let it cool, and put it in the fridge.
Use it pasta sauces, casseroles, soups, stir-fries; you name it! It saves time peeling, chopping, and cooking when you just want a quick meal… and you only cry one time, instead of every single night. Store up to 5 days.
Be honest: sometimes you really want it for dinner but you don't want your hands to smell all evening so you just use garlic powder or you skimp out, am I right?
Here are the tips:
Advance cut and peel the garlic. This can seem time consuming too, but it's super mindless so you can do it while you're talking on the phone, or just give it to your kids or partner to do while they watch TV. Personally I just love spacing out while doing it; it's like meditating for those 5 minutes.
Once peeled, put it in an airtight container and put it in the fridge.
Now you have garlic ready to go to chop, mince, or crush in your dish however you like it. The fingers stay fresh and your meal is flavourful. Win-win if you ask me! Store up to 2 weeks.
3) Grains & legumes.
We all know we should be having more whole grains instead of the processed white bread or white rice or white pasta… but those are just so quick to make when needing a quick dinner, right? And we all know we should be eating less meat, but if you don’t have any canned beans around and you have to make it yourself from scratch… ya, forget it! Nobody has time for that! So the obvious solution here? Batch cook it in advance.
Here are the tips:
Always soak your grains and lentils beforehand, even if just for a couple hours, but preferably up to 8 hours or overnight. I always meal prep on Sundays, so I've gotten in the habit of soaking them Saturday night. Read this PUL article that explains the many, many benefits of soaking before cooking - one of which is that it quickens cooking time!
It's also helpful if you can rinse the beans or lentils at some while it's soaking, in order to wash away those compounds that can make us gassy… you know what I mean.
If you've got less time: lentils cook way faster than beans, and quinoa faster than brown rice.
This is a miracle food. I literally have it everyday, either as a snack with some veg, or in my sandwich or wrap for lunch, or as a condiment with dinner. Super high in protein and fiber… ya you get it: it's damn good.
So here are the tips:
Using either canned beans or the chickpeas you just cooked, make a batch to store in the fridge.
Here's a recipe you can use… and another one.
It's healthier than the store bought kind, and way cheaper too.
You're more likely to eat more if it's readily on hand. Use anything you like here: carrots, bell peppers, broccoli… you know what to do it. It's just about doing it.
6) Frozen bananas.