We’ve got some Worker Bee bites—and a contest—coming up later this morning, but in the meantime I’m happy to share a guest post with excellent tips for making your Challenge cooking easier and more efficient.
As a cooking coach, I teach people how to make healthy eating sustainable. The recipe? What you eat must be satisfying, and it also has to be easy to prepare. Here are my top-10 tried and true meal prep. tips to help you simplify your weekly routine.
Shop One Day + Prep On a Different Day
Most people are overwhelmed by the thought of spending an entire day grocery shopping, and then cooking. So break it up! I really enjoy the farmer’s market, so I spend a nice Saturday morning cruising the farmer’s market to get my groceries (and lots of yummy samples!), then usually a quick stop at the grocery store for any pantry items I need that week, and then I still have the rest of my Saturday to play.
On Sunday, I carve out a couple of hours for cooking, usually in the morning, so that I still have plenty of time to relax and enjoy before the week starts again.
And if you have a really full weekend, try picking up your groceries on Friday after work, and, bonus: most grocery stores fully stock up on Fridays in anticipation of the weekend rush, so you will have the best selection of everything. Or, if you live in an area where they have grocery delivery services, just place your order online and bypass the grocery store completely that week!
Invest in Time Savings Kitchen Tools
My food processor slices, shreds and even dices and spiralizes in seconds. This saves me SO much time on my veggie prep each week!
Prep Veggies All at Once
If I have some extra time and I am feeling motivated after coming home from the farmer’s market/grocery store, I prep all my veggies that I will need for my recipes that week. You will be surprised at how much time you save on cooking when you already have your veggies prepped. And even if you don’t have time to prep. your veggies in advance, you can save time by prepping all your veggies at the start of your cooking session. As with any activity, batching your tasks saves time.
Shortcuts – Pre-Prepped Veggies
By all means take short cuts! Buy your veggies already prepped: I have seen riced cauliflower, spiralized veggie noodles, pre-peeled or pre-minced garlic, pre-cut broccoli florets, pre-peeled and sliced carrots, sliced mushrooms, and other pre-cut vegetable medleys.
Shortcut – Primal Kitchen® Condiments
Why would you make your own homemade Mayo when you can just buy a jar of delicious, healthy Primal Kitchen Mayo?! And Primal Kitchen’s delicious salad dressings elevate your meals and snacks without any extra time on your part: try Primal Kitchen’s Ranch Dressing as a dip for your raw veggies, or I always feel like I am indulging when I eat any salad that is drenched in Primal Kitchen’s Caesar Dressing. When healthy = easy, that is when eating healthy becomes a lifestyle.
Make a Double Batch, and Freeze
It is inevitable that some weeks you will struggle to find the time, or even the motivation, to meal prep. Help yourself out by filling your freezer with delicious, healthy meals that you can easily defrost and enjoy. This is not difficult to do, just make a double batch of a few recipes and freeze half of the portions. Your future (busy + tired) self will thank you.
Stock Your Pantry and Freezer with Easy to Make Meals
Figure out the recipes that you can always make from things on hand in your pantry or freezer. Here are some of my favorites: cassava flour for homemade tortillas (the only other ingredients I need are warm water, sea salt and avocado oil, which I also always have on hand); canned salmon or tuna and Primal Kitchen Mayo to make a salmon/tuna salad; and, frozen fruit and veggies and Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel to make smoothies.
Tackle Your Most Difficult Meals First
This tip is a golden nugget – if you don’t have time for a full week’s meal prep., or if you are unfamiliar with meal prep. and just want to make a small start, begin with prepping the one meal or snack of the day that is always the most difficult for you to stay on track with. For me, in my previous life as a litigation attorney, I was always most challenged by breakfast: I knew I needed to eat something, and that it needed to be healthy and nutrient-dense so I could keep my energy up as I started my day, so I would always pre-make a protein-filled portable breakfast for my week, like egg muffins with sausage and veggies. Once you hack your hardest meal of the day, it only gets easier.
Teaming up to do any part of your weekly meal prep. makes it WAY more fun. Share recipes and meal plans, make the Farmer’s Market or grocery store a social outing, do your weekly cooking with family or friends, or even just prep. your veggies together. One of the reasons why my in-person Paleo Cooking Bootcamp classes were such a success was because people loved the experience of doing their weekly meal prep. in a group.
After years of doing my own weekly meal prep. hustle when I worked as a Silicon Valley litigation attorney, I created a digital video program – Paleo Cooking Bootcamp, that takes all of the stress and guesswork out of meal planning and cooking each week. I provide you with exact grocery lists for four separate meal preparation sessions, and then my videos walk you step-by-step through each of four cooking sessions, instructing you as if you are a student in one of my Bootcamp cooking classes. By enrolling in the program you also get my eBook: Paleo Cooking Bootcamp for Busy People, and extensive guides and supporting materials to help you navigate the videos and gain maximum efficiency in the kitchen.