While it may take a bit of effort, food preparation routines can help organize your pantry and allow you to use your time more efficiently.
As busy people, we sometimes feel like we spend hours in the kitchen each day and finish cleaning up from one meal, just in time to prepare the next. Food preparation routines can help us get over the feeling that the cycle is never-ending.
The good news is meal planning can greatly reduce the amount of time we spend figuring out what to cook, what to buy at the store, and how to use the food we have preserved. You can be even more effective when you combine food prep with the time-tested method of batch cooking.
Batch Cooking Basics
The idea of batch cooking is as simple as the name suggests, you will be batching your food preparation so that individual meals take less time to prepare.
Batch cooking is helpful because, when you make meal prep as easy as possible, you’re more likely to stick to your healthy meal plan. You’ll spend less time on each meal, not to mention less time in the kitchen overall, and all while eating far better than before.
If this is a recipe that you have not tried before, make a small batch before you preserve it. There is no sense in preserving and keeping food in the pantry that your family will not eat.
Start with Protein
For weekly food prep, start with the main portion of the meals and prep the protein first. Hard boil eggs are terrific for a quick protein boost. If your family eats a lot of hard-boiled eggs, cook up a bunch at once and place them in a separate egg carton, clearly marked.
Bake a week’s worth of chicken at once. Cooked chicken stars in many meals. If you cook the chicken ahead of time, you can use it in chicken salad, stir-fry, throw together a quick soup, or add as a protein to your make-ahead dehydrated meals.
Cook multiple pounds of ground beef. As with the chicken, dinner prep is easy when the ground beef is ready ahead of time. Cook five pounds at once, and then store it in one pound packages in the freezer. These individual meal packages can be quickly thawed and warmed up whenever it is needed.
Crockpots and Instant Pots are terrific for batch cooking protein, Try one of these recipes:
Dried Bean Recipes in a crock pot and instant pot
Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs
Keep the Prep Sessions Short
Just as preserving large batches can get overwhelming, planning long sessions of advanced meal prop can prevent you from actually carrying it out.
Take a look at the meals you have planned for the week and take an extra 10 minutes to chop all the onions or bell peppers you will need for the week. So, if three meals each call for one cup of onions, you can save time by chopping all the onions at once and then storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
This same principle of advance chopping is used with food that you want to preserve by either dehydrating or freezing. Set a timer for 10 minutes and in addition to making dinner, prepare one or two items for the rest of the week. You will be pleasantly surprised by how much difference one 10-minute food chopping session each day can make to your healthy eating and preserving goals.
These small batches of preserving can be placed into the dehydrator at night and they will be ready in the morning. Easy!
Routines Save You From Over Buying
Food prep routines keep you from buying items you already have, but you’ve forgotten about or lost in your pantry or freezer. You’re more likely to forget about a package of chicken you bought several months ago and buried in the freezer if you are not opening it regularly.
Fortunately, this is a very fixable problem. By cleaning and organizing the designated food storage places in your home and making a list of all the items, you will easily find the food you’re looking for the next time you go searching.
Thus, pantry organization avoids unnecessary purchases and impulsive buys at the store in the future. It’s a very flexible habit that you will want to apply to many aspects of your daily routine.
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Routines Save Money on Shopping
If you plan out a menu for each month, you can buy many of your groceries in bulk, saving you time and frequent trips to the store. If you prepare a list ahead of time, you can also look for coupons that offer savings on the things you plan to buy.
Because you have planned your preserving schedule of time, you know the food items you have on hand and what is available to eat. Staying organized and keeping essentials stocked up saves you the stress of running out to make a special trip for more.
While it may take a bit of effort, organizing your pantry and food storage routines will allow you to use your time more efficiently and to take full advantage of the preparation time you have available. Not only that, but the more thought-out your pantry and meal plans, the less you will worry about them.
Are you getting committed to preserving and food storage? When you plan meals, purchase seasonally, and set up a daily schedule for food preparation, dinnertime will become your biggest success.
No more running around to figure out ‘what’s for dinner?’ You have it in the pantry!
Other preserving articles from Rockin W Homestead
Food Preparation Routines you can Adopt Today (this post)