Many of us have likely done a lot more cooking at home over the last several months, with restrictions in place to keep us safe during the pandemic. So, I thought a post about meal preparation might be timely! There are a few things you can do to make things go more efficiently – and, hopefully, even a bit tastier!  

Planning your meals:

Most professional chefs start with meal planning, which also includes planning out their food shopping. These days you want to limit your time in any grocery store or other public indoor space. 

  • Pick a day of the week – and try to make it a habit – to do your food shopping. A lot of people pick Saturday or Sunday since they’re home from work. You should select a day that works for your schedule.
  • Plan your meals out for the week: As much as possible, plan your meals ahead. You don’t have to be as strict as assigning days of the week to specific meals or recipes. If you work full-time, keep meals uncomplicated during the week. 
  • Save on trips to the store: Plan at least a handful of meals to make your trip to the grocery store a lot easier and faster. If you must, divide the shopping trip into two trips per week. However, with the current concerns about COVID-19, you might want to limit your trips to the grocery store, especially if you are an older adult or in a high-risk category.
  • On a budget: If you’re on a budget, try to eat at home as many meals as possible. Also, most grocery stores today have specials they email out, so get on their mailing list. Lastly, don’t forget to use coupons!

Cooking:

Here are a few things you can do when it’s time to cook. They can save you time and even money. 

  • Be ready: Get everything ready before you start. That means setting out the ingredients and whatever equipment you will need like pots and pans. Everything should be within easy reach when you need it. 
  • Use recipes: Cooking can be made less complicated – and more likely to turn out tasty – if you use a recipe. It might even save you money because you know how exactly the quantity needed for each recipe. You can find countless free recipes online these days. 
  • Save time: To save some time, multi-task. That could be turning on the oven on while you’re getting things ready or cooking two menu items simultaneously. Basically, find something to do while one of your items is cooking or baking.
  • Clean as you go: Don’t wait until you’re done cooking to clean up. Clean as you go during meal prep. You’ll be grateful you did!
  • Cook in bigger batches: If you want to save some time, you can cook in larger quantities and freeze or refrigerate portions to be eaten at a future date. This helps you to create two meals from one cooking event and saves you time.

Organizing your meals before picking up a pot or pan will make cooking a lot more efficient and, perhaps, even tastier. Once you get into the routine of prepping and planning ahead, it will become second nature!