A few weeks ago I published an article about knowing how to shop better to make it easier to follow the Slow-Carb Diet. If you haven’t read that yet, now is a good time.
Now that you know how to shop more efficiently and with less temptation, we can talk about what to do with what you’ve bought.
One of the key complaints people have is that making your own food is inconvenient. It’s super easy to let someone else make your food (i.e., restaurants or processed food), but the biggest problem with that is you don’t know what’s in it. Don’t even get me started on the engineering that goes into those foods.
Another problem is that it gets pretty expensive.
So if you’re the type of person who feels like cooking is too time consuming, or you’re just looking for some tips to make it easier, then you’re in luck. By the end of this post, you’ll have a great strategy for prepping your food quickly and efficiently.
Buy in bulk, prep in bulk
I don’t necessarily mean Costco bulk, but you’ll usually pay less per volume for larger bags of things, and items like beans and lentils are great to buy in big volumes. You can save even more if you can find a Latin market that sells them in bulk.
They’re also great to prep in volumes. Dry, bagged legumes also cost less than cooked, canned legumes.
There’s no reason to make one day’s worth of black beans. Those things take a while to cook, when you have to soak them overnight, drain, soak again, and then cook.
They also freeze pretty well, so they’re ideal candidates for bulk prep.
So at the start of the week, make a giant pot of them, as long as you have the containers to put them in when you’re done. Seasoning them with a little salt will make them very easy to add to any meal when all you need to do is heat them up one way or another.
Chop it up
As you cook more, you’ll also notice you’re using the same ingredients in the same way a lot. Garlic is almost always diced. Onions are usually sliced, and can be diced quickly once sliced. The time consuming part is getting them to that place.
So when you have an extra 30 minutes, peel and slice several onions. If you know you’ll be using diced onions later in the week, you can have one container of sliced onions and one of diced onions.
Similarly, peel several heads of garlic and dice them in a food processor. They can be stored in a jar in the fridge for quite a while, and it cuts 5-10 minutes off of your cook time. Plus you’ll be more likely to use garlic in your meals, and you’ll never feel bad about that.
This is also useful for items you use here and there to cook with, such as green onion and fresh herbs, but not enough to use before they go bad. Use them as long as they stay fresh, but when it looks like they’ll go bad soon, like when the leaves on your basil start to wilt, rough-chop it and freeze it. It retains most of its fresh flavor and is quickly and easily added at the end of a cook time.
Alternatively with herbs, you can hang and dry them and store them in airtight containers.
Portion out the meats
We get most of our meat from Sam’s Club. At the moment, we can’t afford organic, grass-fed beef from Whole Foods, so we get lean cuts at Sam’s. It’s cheaper to get a large cut than it is to buy smaller steaks, so we make our own steaks.
When you buy meat in bulk, have some freezer bags handy and put in each bag the amount you’d use for one meal. Your meat will stay pretty fresh, and you won’t have to deal with it possibly going bad before you can use it all.
It’s much easier when you break it down
So when you start getting your weekly menus, think about how you can get things ready ahead of time, especially if time is something that’s been holding you back from eating healthy. Pick a day to shop and prep, and you’ll be way ahead of yourself, giving you more time to focus on other things.
In the next post, I’ll show you a crazy-simple way to come up with your own meal ideas. You might even read it and decide you don’t need the slow-carb planner I’m launching next Thursday after all. I’m OK with that, because my main goal is to equip you with what you need to get healthy. So keep an eye out for that one.
This is the second in a series I’m putting together over the next couple weeks leading up to the launch of my slow-carb meal planner. With these posts, you’ll be able to do it all yourself. But if you’d prefer that I do it for you, stay tuned for the launch announcement!
photo credit: Eunice