What is POOP in 15? It is a series for people who want more order in their lives, but don’t have a lot of time to devote to doing it.
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Today’s task is to embrace meal planning and food prep. Ugh, yeah, meal planning. My friend Angela refers to it as “food prep hell”, but it is so essential to being able to produce homemade food on a daily basis – especially if your main family chef works outside the home.
Another friend of mine, Elaina does all her cooking one day during the weekend, and her family eats those foods throughout the week. I love the idea of it, but I also adore cooking nightly, and just prefer to eat things the same day they are made. The exceptions to that is our lunches in which we eat the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.
To find the happy medium of cooking once vs. cooking nightly, I practice an art of meal prep that the French refer to as Mise en Place, or “put in to place”. I prep the ingredients for the week’s food during a two hour marathon on the weekend. When Troy is home, I get him to occupy Jack or better yet, get them both out of the house which allows me to cook and watch Hulu on my laptop! If Troy is not around during the weekend, I simply work on this after Jack is in bed.
My mise en place includes:
- Chopping vegetables for various dishes
- Defrosting meat if necessary
- If any dish calls for noodles, I cook them ahead of time and freeze them
- Dishes that are better the next day (rice dishes, soups, chilis, stews, etc.) get made during that time
- Soak any beans or lentils that might be needed later in the week
- Make a from-scratch pizza, and then popping it uncooked in the freezer to use later
- Cutting up fruit (that doesn’t brown) and veggie sticks for meals, snacks, and lunches
- Making yogurt
- Making treats. Life can’t just be about eating fruit and veg; you need some fun snacks and desserts too!
Thai rice dish, sliced cucumbers, sliced carrots, grilled veggies, coleslaw, and cut up fruit all ready for our meals for the week!
Granted meal prep is not my favorite part of the entire week, but I’ve learned to embrace the sprint of hard work that makes my life so much easier in the end. When food is prepped and ready to go, I rarely have the sense of dread of coming home thinking “oh crap, what are we going to have for dinner”.