How to save 4 hours in the kitchen, every week
Are you getting sick of preparing your bean based meals? Maybe it’s just getting to be a chore, finding food every day when you’re at the office, or at home in the middle of the day, when you have a lot to get done. I’d heard plenty about batch cooking, but I’ve never been able to devote so much time to cooking, and the whole reheating food thing doesn’t work well for me – I either burn it, or end up with cold spots. There is a better way! And it doesn’t involve weird looking frozen things filling your freezer, or making pots of chilli big enough for a scout jamboree.
I do a lot of cooking, that is, I cook 4 meals per day. Over a week, that really adds up, and I find that the longer the week goes on, the less interested I am in cooking. This is bad news for food variety, and bad news for slow carb in general, as I often put off cooking in the middle of the day as I grow more and more tired of it and am then frustrated to discover I’m feeling hungry (a big no-no for fat loss).
I don’t know about you, but, as much as I love food, and as much as I get satisfaction knowing I’m eating good healthy food, I still don’t get a lot out of preparing meals day to day. It’s a different story if I’m making something special, but preparing 4 meals every day means some of them are going to be less than special. Some of them, in fact, are purely practical.
So how do we combat the boredom of food preparation, and still make sure we’re getting great slow carb meals every day?
The answer is one that I found, involves some inspiration from some of my favorite TV shows. I am fanatical about lifestyle shows based around cooking, but not so much for the cooking itself. Not even for the food. I’m fascinated by the process and the people. So, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares is one of my favorites. It shows a lot of restaurants, behind the scenes. And like any restaurant, generally speaking the chefs are coming in, sometime in the afternoon, to prepare for the dinner service.
And there’s the key – they prepare for the meals before they cook them. They don’t do both together.
My next piece of inspiration came from a recent weekend in the city, and a quick stop at Subway for a salad. I was standing there, and said to my friend ‘Man, I wish I had exactly -that- in my kitchen – I would make salads and all kinds of stuff every day!”.
So I figured I could do my best at emulating the Subway setup. And let me tell you, it works wonders.
I’m not talking about pre-cooking chicken strips! I’m talking about prepping for meals.
It is so simple, and actually quite an enjoyable activity.
I hate washing up, but I like chopping things. Normally I get a few minutes chopping, and a few minutes washing up.
This way, I get about 30 minutes chopping, and the same few minutes washing up. Less, in fact, because I store the diced veges, rather than temporarily having them in bowls before I cook with them. The key to the time saving, is that when you’re doing one thing at a time, in a larger amount, it just goes faster. There’s time opening and closing the fridge, sorting things out, washing before cutting, etc – doing a batch saves a ridiculous amount of time because you are at a cutting station, going nonstop.
So what’s the result?
Cooking is now a joy, because it doesn’t involve prepping. I simply open up some ziplock or tupperware containers, and away I go! Better yet, adding up the time savings across the week means I’m in the kitchen for 4 hours less! Don’t think that’s possible? Check out the multiplier effect on prep time for each meal:
Food prep and wash up of knives, bowls and cutting boards- 10 minutes per meal
4 meals per day = 40 minutes per day
7 days a week = 280 minutes – nearly 5 hours!!
Previous prep and wash time: 280 minutes/week
New prep and wash time: 40 minutes/week
Time saved: 4 Hours.
I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this all along! Think of all the time spent washing and cutting things up. Even if you do a batch session twice a week, you still stand to save hours compared to preparing every meal separately.
The best bit about this is that my meals now have more variety, and are tastier than before. The bonus is that cooking now is quick, and fun.
Give batch prepping a try and I promise you will never go back. Put on a favorite TV show in the background and the time will fly. Then, all you have for the rest of the week is the fun of selecting what you want to use in your next meal! All you need is something to store everything in – if you need some containers, get some today!
Do you batch cook or batch prep?? Share some of your tips below in the comments! I bet there’s some tricks that I haven’t discovered yet.
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