I love to cook! However, like many of you, I dread spending all weekend in the kitchen. Well, some weekends I enjoy spending hours and hours cooking and baking but, for the most part, most of my weekends are packed with other activities, household chores, and get-togethers.
Though my weekends are usually pretty busy, I still make time to prepare my meals for the following week. I am not a drive-thru kind of person and tend to save restaurant meals for special occasions.
Efficient meal-prep begins with a good plan. Once I have decided on my menu for the week, I put my grocery list on my phone, and head to the store. I have even simplified my shopping trip by managing my grocery list through an app, purchasing only what I need, and shopping at "off" times. I am in and out in no time! I may love to cook, but I am no fan of shopping!
I have established a pretty efficient system I follow on my-prep days to keep me on track and to complete all of the tasks quickly. Part of my system includes employing the appropriate, time-saving tools. Good, sharp knives, color-coded cutting boards, a food-processor, and plenty of food storage containers are necessities. I am not much of a gadget person (I don't even own a spiralizer!), but there are just some things I can't do without.
My meal prep always begins with the veggies. I wash them, chop them, and package them according to how they will be used. And then, for an hour or so, my kitchen sounds like Santa's workshop in November!
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Here are my Five Must-Haves:
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I have a couple different colanders I use, but this is the one I rely on most. I love that it collapses and the side handles extend to fit over the sink. No need for an extra bowl to catch the draining water.
I often just put my veggies right in it and use the sprayer to wash them.
A couple good knives are a must and though I have a full knife block and a few miscellaneous knives, this one is my go-to. This 6-inch knife is big and hefty enough to chop all of my veggie, yet small enough that is easy to handle and comfortable.
Multiple cutting boards are a must! I keep one solely for raw meat and have a couple others in varying sizes to cut veggies.
Truly, my cutting boards are in need of replacement. Some of them are scratched (hiding place for germs) and on is actually cracked.
Honestly, I have not used the boards, but I will be ordering them and will let you know what I think.
My biggest time saver, though, is my food processor. Once I have my veggies washed, I grab my food processor and get moving. In only a matter of minutes, everything is chopped, sliced and shredded.
I have had 2 Cuisinart food processors (my first one gave out not too long ago after many, many years) and I love this one. It's hefty and the cup is large so it may seem like it's more than you need. However, even though I am just cooking for 2 now, I still pull it out nearly every weekend.
It is heavy duty and will slice, dice, and shred any vegetable I put in it; from carrots and beets to cucumbers and mushrooms. Not only does it make the work of getting my veggies ready quick and easy, it also makes clean up quick and easy. In less than 30 minutes I can cut up all my veggies and have just one bowl to wash - win, win!
It is a great way to chop a bunch of onions without the misery and tears.
And, if you need a quick way to turn a head of cauliflower into perfect "rice", you can't beat the speed and consistency of this tool.
Plus, for the few times I bake, this is a great tool for mixing batters, doughs, and to pulse together butter and flour for a pie crust. I do have a stand mixer but rarely us it, relying most often on my food processor.
Once everything is prepped, I need a storage system. I have slowly been converting to glass containers, though I still have remnants of various plastic containers remaining in my cabinet. Class storage containers are a bit more cumbersome and take up more storage space, but I love the fact that they are dishwasher safe, environmentally-friendly, microwaveable, and aren't leaching chemicals into my food.
Pyrex is a go-to, but other brands offer varying sizes and come in different sets to meet your needs. I love any that can go from freezer to oven. I always keep a few extra meals in the freezer for lazy nights, unexpected guests, or to offer to a friend who has been ill or dealing with a crazy schedule. Plus, I know if my husband needs to get dinner on the table, he can just pull out something from the freezer, throw it in the oven, and dinner will be ready when I get home. No need for delivery!
Of course, I have a few other tools, but I seldom use them. I am not a "gadget" person and I don't enjoy doing dishes, so the less tools I use, the quicker the clean up!
Do you have a favorite go-to tool for meal prep? I would love to hear about it!
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Thanks for reading!
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