4 Simple Tips to Help Streamline Food Preparation

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Last week I explained the importance of knowing what you are eating. I mentioned how eating out at a restaurant is fine on occasion but most of the time you should be eating your own home cooked food. This is especially important if you are dealing with a chronic health issue like heart disease, diabetes, an auto-immune disorder or digestive issues. In this case food is your medicine and you want to adhere to a healthy diet 99% of the time. The 80-20 rule applies to the rest of us. Prepare your food 80% of the time and the 20% will take care of itself. 
This week I wanted to talk about food prep tricks that can streamline the whole meal preparation process. What I have realized that in the time that it takes you to order take-out food you can prepare a quick meal. Food preparation just takes a little organization and forethought. So here are some of my food preparation tips that help me to make the maximum amount of food in a minimum amount of time. I don’t know about you but I feel like I spend enough time in my kitchen each day so being time efficient with my time so I can move on to other things in my life is key.
Food Preparation Tip #1: Plan your Meals                                                                         
Knowing what you are going to eat before mealtime is at the top of the list. The most time consuming part of planning your meals is setting up a system that works for you. There are many meal planning apps out there now, I especially like FoodPlanner. This app has a meal planner, grocery list, inventory list, and way to input recipes and transfer the ingredients to your grocery list. You may find that simply writing down your meals on the calendar works just as well. I just recommend saving your meal plans for future use. Matter of fact, I have put together around 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 10 dinners and 10 snacks that I can choose from on a seasonal basis. When the seasons change I like to change up the meals. Now we are moving into fall and winter so my dinners will be heavier foods like soups, chili, and casseroles. As time allots you can add a new recipe in here and there.
Food Preparation Tip #2: Make a Grocery List (and stick to it!)      
Every time you walk into the supermarket you will most likely spend money so why not limit the number of trips. Creating a reusable grocery list is wise so you don’t have to start from scratch each week. You can even post it on the fridge and add to your list each day. Whatever works for you and makes your life easier is best. I mentioned to stick to your list because the grocery store’s main objective is to make money so be careful that you aren’t straying form your list to buy foods just because of nice packaging or creative marketing. Believe it or not the packaging of the product costs more than the food that is inside the packaging.
Food Preparation Tip #3: Cook in Bulk                                                                                   
The more food preparation you can do at once the more meals and snacks you will have ready to eat. The key here is having food that is “ready to put in your mouth.” I chopped broccoli one day and left it out because I was going to use it in a recipe. I left the kitchen and came back and my broccoli was gone. My kids ate the whole thing (they thought it was a snack). The moral of the story is that food that is accessible, even if it is healthy, is more enticing and therefore more likely to be eaten. I find cooking in bulk (cooking for an hour or two) can yield enough food for a few meals.
Food Preparation Tip #4 Keep a Well-Stocked Pantry
I have to admit this is one that I am working on. I am now getting in the habit of stocking up on pantry items when they go on sale. I think ideally that you always want to have one or more of frequently-used items on hand. It is possible to take this to the extreme (have you seen that TLC show “Extreme Couponing”? That is not what I mean. Buying one or two extra of a pantry item when it goes on sale is a wise investment in your money and time. Remember the less you need to step into that grocery store the better.
These are some of my favorite food preparation tips. What are some food preparation tips that help you to make the most amount of food in the least amount of time?
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