Why Food Prep?
Food prep serves a few different purposes:
- saves time
- saves money
- think once, cook once, shop once
- less stressful
- forces healthy eating
- less food wastage
- great for working people, school kids, busy people
- great if you are trying to eat healthier or loose weight
I have food prepped many times before in the past. I have two teenage children and when they were younger I would prep ahead for the school week: breakfasts, school lunch and get-home-from-school lunch. It was wonderful. Mornings were less stressed, as I wasn’t hurriedly slapping together a peanut butter sandwich but rather reaching for the prepared healthy snacks to pop into their lunch boxes. Breakfast was healthy frittatas or overnight oats. But we don’t always stay on the band wagon and sometimes these things loose their sparkle and we slowly go back to our old ways…
But for the past month I have food prepped every week, so now with 4 weeks of food prep behind me, I thought I’d share my insights…
1. Meal planning
So the first step is deciding what your family is going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and then you need to work out quantities. If you haven’t done food prep before, perhaps think of starting with just two meals or even just one to get used to it.
Next is writing a shopping list according to the menu you have planned. Plan your shop, which shops you will go to and in what sequence. I normally have to go to at least 4 different shops as I know which shops have the best deals, which ones are cheaper on certain items and if their are specials on.
3. Wash and prep
When I get home from food shopping, I immediately wipe everything down with hot water and savlon solution. I then wash all the fruit and veggies and pack everything away.
4, Day of food prep
I normally work out my menu for the week on a Friday, then do my shopping on the Saturday and on a Sunday I meal prep. For breakfast my family enjoys fruit salad. So I make at least 12 containers of mixed fruit :sweet melon, mango, peach, blueberries, peaches. I layer the fruit with the hardest at the bottom and the softest at the top. It’s enough for 4 days at least for it to stay fresh.
Lunch is salad. Simple. My husband and Son are not gluten intolerant and being men, a salad is normally not enough food for them, so they will eat that and make sandwiches or something else. But at least I know they are eating something healthy everyday. This month I have come to love and look forward to my daily salad so much! I prepare them in glass jars as they stay fresh for up to 5 days like this! Start off with your hardest items at the bottom (carrot) then work your way up till the softest at the top (cucumber, tomato and then lastly any greens and leaves)
Dinner: I make two meals that last two nights and one meal to act as an in-betweener. Sometimes this is a bit tricky as I am gluten intolerant and my son also does not eat certain things. My daughter who is gluten and dairy intolerant normally makes her own meals as she loves cooking and food prep but prefers to sort herself out, so it’s really just for me and my husband and son. But just a little forethought and planning, I make it work.
I make all 3 meals for the whole week and then divide them into portions and place them in containers in the fridge. The meals are enough for all of us for 4 days. Day 5 we normally get pizza and on the weekend it’s a braai (BBQ for any non-South African’s reading this!) or we do something light or just sort ourselves out. Weekends are pretty laid back and easy when it comes to food and normally there will be some salads or leftovers hanging around that don’t last long in my house!
So really, it is one day of shopping, one day of cooking and the cooking/prep literally only takes me about 3 to 4 hours for the whole week.
what I learned from a month of food prep
I saved a ton of money. I know this because I religiously kept all my food slips and made an excel spreadsheet to keep track of every item and shop where I bought it from and then compared prices. No, I don’t normally do this, it was just to test this out for the month!
I shopped at a store I don’t normally go to but found the food to be great quality and I saved. This particular store suits me too as the fresh produce is not bagged or pre-packaged, and I have my own eco netting bags that I can reuse over and over again.
I cooked on average 6-7 times for the whole month only. (sometimes besides my main food prep day, I cooked in the middle of the week)
It saves me time and on days where I’m in the kitchen all day with orders and normally I just forget to eat or don’t bother because I’m just too busy, I can grab a fruit salad or a salad and it kept me going! Plus by the end of the day when I am exhausted from working all day, the last thing I want to do is think of something to make for supper and then decide only to find I don’t have the ingredients.
This month saved me money, but it saved me peace of mind and energy. It forced us all to eat healthier, I know we all definitely got our fruit and veg servings every day! It was less stressful because I knew the week was sorted and I didn’t have to think about it again. I only ended up going to the shop once each week and only bought what was on my list.
are you going to try food prep?
So what are your thoughts? Do you food prep? If you haven’t, has this article helped you to decide or make a move toward to trying it? I know it sounds hectic, but really, it isn’t! It requires a bi of planning and knowledge about prices and which stores have the best quality but also the cheaper options and it might require going to a few different stores, but then it is done! Shop once, cook once!!
gluten free ready-made meals
I now offer gluten free ready-made meals. Each Monday I post a new menu, for now it is only two options a week to choose from. Orders are in by the Friday and the orders do out the following Monday.