There is no argument that some of the best ways to ensure good nutrition are to grow your own food, reduce or eliminate processed foods, and to cook at home. Growing food at home is something I will be touching on in another post. As for reduce processed foods and cooking at home, nobody has time, right? Totally untrue! The key to cooking at home easily and quickly is weekly, monthly, and seasonal food prep. Food prep is preparing meals or parts of them in advance to save yourself time when it comes to cooking later on. A great example of this is the dried herbs, spices, and seasonings that just about everybody has in their kitchens. Those have been prepared in advance to shorten cooking time and extend the length of time herbs can be used.
As a side note, herbs are the most expensive thing used for cooking. Whenever possible I highly suggest growing one’s own herbs to save on groceries. But I digress…
Weekly food prep sounds like a lot, but really, weekly food prep should take no more than 1-2 hours for most people. In short, weekly food prep day consists of heading out to the grocery store, farmer’s market, or wherever you do your grocery shopping, picking up your seasonal produce, and preparing it for use for that week. The idea of doing a weekly food prep is that for minimal amounts of time once a week, we can either grab and go or throw together fresh meals in just a few minutes over the course of the week, saving time for other things. This may consist of chopping produce in advance, making large amounts of legumes and grains, setting up jars of chia pudding, and even making a couple easy sauces to use on a variety of dishes during the week.
Monthly food prep can be a little more intensive. For many people this may include breads or full meals prepped in advance and frozen, or even freeze dried, for the month ahead. Often times, people who buy food items in bulk find this a little more convenient. This could consist of making a dozen loaves of bread all in the same day and freezing most for later use. Making casseroles and other dishes in advance to stash in the freezer for later are another common way to food prep. Most often monthly food preppers spend a couple of hours chopping produce and freezing it for later use. Some foods that are perfect for this are:
- Most herbs
- Breads and baked goods
Seasonal food prepping is great for people who grow their own produce or buy seasonal items in bulk. Let’s be honest, seasonal food prepping is a form of long-term preservation. This can be a game changer for anybody, saving both time and money, but there is slightly more upfront time involved. Seasonal produce is always its best when it is its cheapest. By canning, drying, and freezing seasonal foods, one is keeping them at their best for long periods of time. Humanity has been seasonally prepping for centuries. The best part of seasonal food prepping is being able to have on hand great ingredients for your favorite dishes during odd times of the year. Foods great for seasonal prepping are:
- In-season produce
- Homemade sauces and dressings
- Homemade casseroles
- Anything that can be dried/freeze dried
- Pickled foods
If you’re new to food prepping, my advice is to start with weekly food prepping. Use produce that is in season at the time you start. If you aren’t sure what is in season check out local farmer’s markets. Set aside an hour or two on a day of your choosing and chop your veggies, cook any grains, beans/legumes, mix sauces, dressings, and anything else that needs to sit like overnight oats. Any snacks or desserts can also be made ahead so you can grab them as they’re needed.
What are your favorite food prepping tips? Share them in the comments!