Kitchen Control Freak Part II: Pre-Preparation

A filled out meal plan is great, but the real weekday time saver is not having to do full-scale prep for every meal (think of it is a a larger-scale version of mise en place). This requires:

  • Small chunk of time (about 60-90 minutes)
  • Lots of storage containers
  • Sharp knife and solid cutting board
  • Music/news radio/solitude/whatever makes this fun “you” time. Avoid anything that requires focus because you will be using a sharp knife (see above) and retention of finger integrity is advisable.

While those are the bare necessities, a mandoline slicer or a food processor with slicing/shredding blades can really speed things along, especially if you are still working on your knife skills. My food processor doesn’t have slicing blades so I am currently borrowing a friend’s to test the waters: Life. Changing. My knife skills are decent for slicing, but this makes prepping more than one veggie at a time super speedy. While that’s a plus, the real benefits are its shredding blades (no more knuckle scrapes on the grater!) and the ability to thinly slice onions without eliciting the waterworks.

The idea behind a big weekend prep and cook is that, if done effectively, it will reduce the amount of time you are actually cooking during the week, (hopefully) reduce some of the dirty dishes generated by cooking, and, as an added bonus, it will help you get a handle on the contents of your refrigerator and reduce the likelihood that you let things go to waste. I also find that pre-preparation helps me identify potential snags in my meal template and gives me time to adjust accordingly.

With all of our travel in the past few months, I have not been in the habit of planning and pre-preparing our weekly meals, preferring instead to look at the refrigerator in the morning, decide a course of action, and stop by the grocery store on my way home, if necessary. While this is fun, it is a major, major time suck and left me feeling like all I did at home was cook, cook, eat, and go to sleep. This week was my first step back into regaining kitchen control (and sanity). This took me about 75 minutes on Sunday (inclusive of intermittent distractions)…

How’d it go down?

Getting ready for the week is important, but that night’s dinner (and a holdover late lunch/snack) were of paramount importance.

First, I blended some jerk seasoning with coconut oil and rubbed it on the chicken legs. These went into the refrigerator to sit for a few hours before grilling.

Next, I mixed ground turkey with spices using the general seasonings for breakfast sausage in Paleo Comfort Foods and got that started browning on the stove:

While that was browning, I made a quick avocado/mango salad to be served with dinner. This went into the refrigerator.

Next, I chopped up an onion and a tomato for my beef taco mixture, and I used some smoked salmon, avocado, carrots, cucumber, scallions, and nori to make a quick salmon roll for Michael to snack on:

With the turkey sausage browned and cooling in a Pyrex bowl, I wiped out the pan and began to cook my taco mixture.

While that was cooking, I prepped the rest of my veggies:

  • Kale de-stemmed, torn into bite size pieces, and washed in the salad spinner
  • Green beans rinsed and trimmed
  • Diced another onion for easy sauteeing
  • Sliced zucchini and yellow squash (food processor)
  • Washed lettuce and parceled into containers for lunch salads

My initial plan had been to get the pork ready to cook in a crockpot on Monday so I could come home from work, lift, and have minimal kitchen demands. Unfortunately, I panicked and realized I needed to change this plan.

As I mentioned before, we bought some pork that came freshly butchered, skin on. Initially, I thought that I would use my nifty knife and de-skin it and then make some crock-potty ribby goodness. However, de-skinning was…impossible. Or, while technically possible, not a desirable use of my time. Additionally, what I thought were ribs looked more like pork belly with maybe a touch of rib (?). (Nothing in my purchase was labeled, so I’m kind of flying blind here). Since I know how delicious fatty pork skin can be, and I know there are ways to make crispy skin on pork belly, I decided that the pork would have to wait until I could google my way to a solution. I decided to cook one of the Tues/Wed chicken dishes on Monday instead.

Prepped!

After just over an hour, I had saved Michael from eating his own arm, had most of dinner prepped and ready in the fridge, and added the following containers for weekday use:

On the left are (from bottom to top) my washed and torn kale, sliced squash, two containers of lettuce for lunch time taco salads, and the ground turkey. On the right: my perplexing pork, the cooked beef taco mixture, washed and trimmed green beans, and a container of diced onion.

While this doesn’t completely eliminate weekday prep, it helps streamline your process. Again, this is good for mental sanity, time savings, AND, ultimately, money savings, as it will reduce or eliminate food waste.

As an added bonus, I’ll show you how this week actually played out in the next post. (Exciting, right?!) Until then, buen provecho!

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4 thoughts on “Kitchen Control Freak Part II: Pre-Preparation

  1. Pingback: Rest Day « Solidarity Fitness

  2. Pingback: Kitchen Control Freak Part I: Meal Planning Strategy « Solidarity Eats

  3. Pingback: Kitchen Control Freak Part Bonus: The Payoff « Solidarity Eats

  4. Pingback: Pre-WLC Freezer Stocking « Solidarity Eats

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