1. Have a plan before you begin
They say failing to plan is the same as planning to fail and it’s no exception when you’re prepping your meals for the week. If finding recipes and putting together shopping lists comes naturally to you, then you’ll want to map out the meals you want to prepare for the week and make your grocery list.
If you’re like me, you are not good at meal planning (or don’t have the time) and you’ll need some help. There are some great meal planning services out there that will give you a weekly menu and shopping list. Then you’ll just shop and then cook what they tell you. There are several services to choose from, I’d recommend checking out eMeals, PrepDish and MealFit. They’re some of the best I’ve seen so far and I’ve used all but MealFit (but I’m tempted every time I see their Instagram feed).
2. Get good, sharp knives
While you don’t need a huge assortment of knives in the kitchen, I definitely recommend investing in some good, sharp knives if you want to get serious about eating well. We bought some mid-range Wusthof knives and I’ve loved them. You don’t need a ton of knives, either. If you don’t have any now I’d recommend a chef’s knife and a paring knife to start with. That will take care of most of what you need to cut.
However, the key thing about knives is keeping their blades sharp. Dull knives make meal prep longer and harder and I’ve even read that dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones. You can sharpen knives yourself with some sharpening tools, but there’s certain guidelines to sharpening knives so that you won’t ruin the blade. So do your research first! Personally, I’d rather get them sharpened by someone who knows what they’re doing.
3. Prepare your kitchen
Give yourself plenty of space
Preparing food in cramped areas just plain sucks. You need space for your cutting boards, space for dishes holding your ingredients, or space for tools like crock pots or food processors. You’ll just need some room.
Get out the tools and ingredients you’ll need
I have found myself in the middle of cooking something and then rushing across the kitchen looking for that one ingredient that I need RIGHT FREAKIN’ NOW while whatever I’m cooking gets closer to burning. Get out the ingredients you’ll be using and the appliances you’ll need to use so that you’re not running around
Keep a trashcan close by
Going back and forth between the trash and where you’re preparing food takes time that really adds up. I recommend getting a small trash can or even using a large bowl to put scraps in. Some of the kitchen stores even have tailor made bowls for this.
4. Read through the recipes first
Mystery novels should surprise you, but recipes should not. I cannot tell you how many times I failed to read through a recipe only to find that I needed to have something heated up or some ingredient chopped and I didn’t do it. Then I’m RUSHING to catch up while my future dinner is about to catch fire. Reading ahead can erase this surprise, make your food better, and even make you a better, less stressed person. Your family will thank you.
5. When possible, clean up as you go
While meal prepping should theoretically keep you moving without too many breaks, I could not more strongly urge you to clean up as much as possible as you go. It will feel like every dish you own is dirty and that’s daunting after spending a few hours cooking for the week. If you can manage to slip in some cleaning along the way, you will make life better in the long run…and your family will thank you.