Welcome to January- a month of motivation, new beginnings and often incomplete dreams. Most of us have chewed our way through December with enough food to sink a ship and washed it down with more alcohol than we care to think- it was Christmas, then New Years.
But that was last year. Catchya later 2018. Out with the old and in with the new, the sleek, sexy 2019 with a bounty of promise and allure. You have stared into the mirror more than once and told yourself “2019- I’m about to own you”.
I’m digging it- one of the big make or break factors though is going to be your nutrition. For the first article of the year we are going to keep it simple, save the science for later and kick things off with prepping to food prep.
It is with great confidence I commence this piece by declaring- I am not a chef. I’m not even a cook. However over the last ten years living out of home I’ve learnt that I can’t eat the same terrible meal every day of my life. I’ve lbeen fortunate enough to know some of the best chefs in the country and have learnt a thing or two where I can.
I have worked on what I consider cooking fundamentals- this essentially means I have managed to balance being a lazy cook and making reasonably tasty meals. We are talking the very bare, basics.
If you are anything like twenty year old me and thought a healthy meal was a blob of LaTina packet sauce and pastas with chopped carrot and snowpeas- give yourself, and young me a slap or two across the chops and send yourself on your way.
Typically the devil is in the detail but the first consideration for Food Prep is not hidden in the details, rather it is standing there staring you straight in the face.
Want to nail food prep? Then prepare.
Step One to Bossing Food Prep
Put a little effort into your planning, sit down and peruse this wonderful asset we have at our fingertips, the worrrrrrrrld wide web and find a handful of recipes that grab you by the eyes but also seem to tie in with your health goals. You can look for paleo sites, clean eating sites- even a tonne of south east Asian dishes will fit well into this category.
Typically I will do a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner and eat them for the first four days of the week and breakfast, lunch on the fifth. With my schedule this works a treat for me but if you need a little more variety, allow for it.
There are cracking apps such as Kitchen Stories that you can select a recipe, add the ingredients to your shopping list and BOOM you’re off to the races.
Not only will a little planning here save you precious time in adult hell, the grocery store but it is highly likely it will also save you some serious bank- you’re organised, buying only what you need and you will be eating out a lot less.
Step Two to Bossing Food Prep
Find a local markets that blows your socks off. Located in Canberra? Epic markets on Saturday mornings or Fyshwick markets Thursday until Sunday. If you have other preferred options drop them in comments please.
I usually get as much of my fresh produce and seafood from the Fyshwick markets. I find they usually have seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresher, organic or closer to and typically tend to be a little cheaper as well plus you’re supporting the little guys. So really it’s a win, win.
For the budget conscious, heading out to your local markets a few hours before close down on the Sunday and the stores are selling produce a little cheaper rather than let it go to waste.
Step Three to Bossing Food Prep
You’ve got recipes in hand, a box full of the freshest ingredients your dollar can buy- the next step is to turn it from bits and pieces into delicious.
First step get stuck into your favourite Spotify playlist.
I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend you block out a couple hours at some point- maybe it’s on your Sunday morning who knows. Find a couple hours that eight out of ten times you will always have free and make some magic.
Set a little plan, proteins or meats first (particularly if slow cooking or roasting), then chop and have ready to go all vegetables. Sort your carbohydrates out- dice your pumpkin, sweet potato, potatoes, get some rice or quinoa simmering whatever you actually need.
The key to nailing this part is again, having some type of plan to it all rather than losing yourself in the music, running around like a headless chicken with chives all over the floor, beans as far as the eye can see and a chunk of beef bleeding on your counter.
Prior preparation will save your bacon. Trust me. These first three steps will save you hours on food prep days and several hours throughout the week when the majority of your meals only need to be heated up.
Step Four to Bossing Food Prep
Although this is likely to sound a little heavy on the lame side of food prep- if your someone who needs no persuading to ditch the healthy meal in favour of a cheese coated parmi on your lunch break, rather than getting a huge container and piling everything in to then serve it all up later- buy a stack of small containers and plate up meal by meal.
For the environmentally conscious, I get that buying several glass containers adds up but trust me when I say temptation for food evils is all but slaughtered when all you need to do with your healthy food is remove the lid and buzz for 60 seconds in the microwave.
If nothing else it makes for a sweet photo on the gram #foodprepfordaaaayyyyzzzzzz #gainz #newyearnewme
Step Five to Bossing Food Prep
The grand finale, the most obvious and simple of them all. Make sure you eat your food. You would be amazed how many times I have heard of unbelievable efforts in the kitchen prepping a weeks worth of meals only for them to all be thrown out at weeks end and the local Guzman Gomez being 14 burrito sales richer.
Perhaps that someone is me, but I have heard similar tales from many people. Of course life gets in the way but sometimes when life pushes you just need to push back- you put the effort in to the food prep because it is the delivery system for something very important to you, so initially, force yourself into the habit of eating your meals- sure some people will laugh at you for having pre-done meals but I guarantee when you’re looking a million bucks from top to toe those same people will be the ones who asked you how you did it.
Worthy Mentions to Bossing Food Prep
There are a few additional things that will make life easier that don’t require a full paragraph on them, some are:
- Buy a sharp knife: they aren’t that expensive and believe me, I’ve cut myself or come close to more occasions using a cheap and unbelievably blunt knife than I have a sharp one
- If you don’t like a particular food, don’t cook it- stick within the realms you enjoy initially. It’s much easier to stick to a plan that isn’t torture.
- A big pan- you’re cooking in bulk. Nothing more frustrating than pan frying a weeks worth of vegetables in a one egg pan.
- Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons- mix your recipes up from week to week to keep it fresh.
- Learn a thing or two about herbs and spices and what mixes best with what. The more tasty your food, the more you enjoy it. The more you enjoy it, the more you stick to it. The better you stick to it the better you will feel and look.
- Get a friend on board- if you prep together it will make the cooking time much more fun. If you do it separately- swap meals to get more variety into your week (side note cooking for other people is a great way to up your culinary skill- nothing more encouraging for improvement than handing across a bowl of sludge).