I hesitated making this a whole topic, as it’s pretty well-known in the Paleo/Primal world, but I figured my audience right now is other writers who are thinking about starting this lifestyle and could use any pointers/tips to help make things easier.
One of the key tips to making things go faster in meal preparation and cooking is to pre-prep your veggies and other foods that can be cooked/prepped ahead of time and used during the week. So, anytime I have five to ten minutes to spare, I do this step. Maybe while I’m waiting for water to boil for my tea, or between writing sprints. I also try to do it when I come home with fresh veggies.
The advantages are many:
- It helps save time when you go to whip up a quick meal and you already have chopped onions and garlic on hand
- It saves time when making your smoothie or salad to already have your toppings ready
- You also utilize your chopping board and knife to its fullest extent–get all the chopping done on it, instead of having to pull it out for each time you need it, and then have to wash it each time, etc.
So here’s some ideas of things you can pre-prep:
- Hard-boiled eggs: I boil about 6 at a time to last me for most of the week. I then go ahead and peel them and cut them in half, so they’re ready to go on my daily lunch salad
- Kale and other greens: I do this so they’re in small, hardly-noticeable sizes and then I can sprinkle them on top my salad or even put them in various foods I’m making that week. Like if I’m making up hamburger patties, I throw some chopped kale into the mix, which I’d never take the time out to do if I had to stop and chop up some kale to put in my burger. It also makes them easier to fit into your smoothies when they’re already down-sized. I use my Magic Bullet for this, but I only do as much as I think I can use that week without it wilting.
- Bell Peppers: Down in the Gulf-Coast South, these make up what we call the Holy Trinity (onions, celery and bell peppers) when making any kind of Roux-based sauce. So they’re handy to already have chopped for those instances (though I need to experiment and find a non-grain-based Roux). Anyway, like the kale, it’s handy to have these around already ready to pop into food you’re cooking, or to top your salads.
- Celery: Same as the bell peppers. I also throw these into my morning smoothies
- Garlic: these are such a pain in the butt to peel and mince, so it’s great to just do a bunch at a time and have a little jar ready to go. You can even pour a little olive oil in the jar to keep them longer, and then at the end, you have some garlic-infused olive oil to use!
- Cucumbers: I like to have some sliced for my salads and another stash cut smaller to fit in my smoothies.
- Carrots: I grind some up to have ready to throw in my smoothies every morning. I do this in my Magic Bullet too.
- Bacon: I cook the whole packet of bacon at once, which I think saves time, as I’m only cleaning the pan once. I also save the bacon grease to use for cooking. Then I can use the bacon throughout the week as salad toppings or in other foods.
- Nuts: If you use chopped nuts in anything, this could be good to do ahead of time. I used to do this, as it made it easier to put in my smoothies, but I stopped putting nuts in my smoothies, because I’m trying to lose weight, and I love nuts, so if I ingest them, I want to be able to notice I’m eating them 🙂
- Smoothie Powder Mix: I make up a jar of some dried spices and other ingredients that I can then scoop into my smoothie each morning instead of having to get a scoop of this and that, a pinch here, etc. Here’s what I put in mine: ground cacao powder, parsley flakes, shredded coconut, turmeric, garlic powder, ground chia seeds, ground cinnamon, and potato starch.
- Tea Blends: If you find you like a certain mix of herbs, go ahead and combine a bunch into a jar, so you’re not having to mix them each time. I currently have a jar of Sleep Tea and a Brain/Stress tea…
Just make sure you don’t do more than you can use up before they start to wilt/brown. I know some purists will object, as they are freshest when freshly chopped, but come on, we need to function and find time to put these healthy nutrients in our bodies. I’ll forsake some lost nutrients for actually ingesting them, instead of having them rot in my refrigerator bin because at the time I could use them, I don’t feel like taking the time to wash and chop them. If you find that you over-chopped, freeze some 🙂
As you can see in the top graphic, I have one plastic bin, divided in three, for my salad toppings and another for my smoothies, so I’m only having to open it once and scoop out what I need. I know they’re plastic, but they are BPA-free and I got them for $1 at the Dollar Store. I know they’re still not ideal toxin-wise, but until I can afford these puppies (LunchBots) in stainless steel I’ll deal with the little extra toxic burden. It’s a conscious choice I’m making and I’m reducing my toxic burden elsewhere in food intake, as well as switching over to making most of my own healthy and beauty products, so I’m hoping my body can handle it.
What about you? Do you pre-prep any food? Anything I left out?