If quarantine has taught us anything, it’s that food prepping is far more important than previously given credit for.
With the right methods, you can not only save time and money throughout the week, you can also undo the damage eating out was doing to your waistline.
But what exactly are the food prepping secrets you’ve been missing out on? Why could you possibly learn now that didn’t make its way into a YouTube video you’ve watched already?
1. Use tip to tail
Well, not literally, but applicable. For instance, if you go to the store, you’re not likely to buy a whole pig. However, if you get 4 pork chops, you should be consuming all 4 pork chops, not throwing out half of them.
In other words, only buy the food you’re actually going to eat, and only buy them in the amounts you actually need. Any more always winds up in the garbage.
2. Keep it varied
Most people assume food prepping means having to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner five days out of the week. Well, that’s one way to do it, but it sure is boring.
The better option is to food prep two portions of every meal you’re planning on making. For instance, if you’re prepping a wrap, you’d prep two deconstructed wraps (lettuce, cassava or tortilla contained separately) so they don’t get soggy.
And you’d repeat that process about six times, so you have 12 meals for three days (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack). Rather than eat the same 4 types of meals every day of the week, you’d be eating six different meal types throughout 3 days.
If that sounds like a lot of meal planning, you’re right, but that’s where our next step comes in.
3. Multitask cook
If you’re prepping one meal at a time, or two portions of a meal, you’re doing it wrong. Proper food prep means there’s something in your air fryer, something in your oven, there’s two to three things going on your stove, etc.
Which means you’re actually well off when you set timers on both your oven and air fryer, for example. Just toss in the food, and wait for the ding.
It works exceptionally well when you have two to three items in your oven at a time. Maximum use.
As for the stove, you’re likely standing right there so you can remove the pots of food as they’re done.
4. Be realistic about preferences
If you bought asparagus thinking you’d make a healthy meal, but you actually dislike asparagus, especially the super thick kind you found at the store, do yourself a favor and never buy it again. Otherwise, when you food prep it and the time comes to actually eat it, you won’t.
Instead, think of the things you do like to eat. It doesn’t always have to be healthy, and it doesn’t always have to be junk food. It can be either or.
Most important, be kind to yourself. If you’ve had a rough day and all you can think about is a freezer pizza instead, do that. A family member might want the prepped meal. Or maybe you can combine it with another portion later in the week. Sometimes you’re exceptionally hungry.
5. Store smartly
Last but not least, beware how you actually store your food. If you’re making salad, it won’t keep for a full day, let alone 3. If you’re making sandwiches, the bread may get soggy depending on the fillings. As a general rule, the more wet ingredients are, the faster you need to consume them.
Instead, think of ways to package things up wisely. For example, storing croutons, cheese and chicken together won’t hurt anything, but slather it in dressing, and you’ll have the mushiest croutons of all time. Lettuce should always be kept separate, chopped, washed and ready to toss in when you’re about to eat.
— By Jennifer Mendez
Jennifer Mendez is a content creator and Lynnwood resident who specializes in copy, graphic design and photography for her clients. Whenever she’s not creating something, she’s exploring new places to eat in the area.