Not even diehard foodies enjoy the time it takes to prepare food. There’s a reason that “prep cook” is an entire job that chefs pay someone else to do—it’s no fun, and people are willing to throw money at the problem! If you look at a cookbook, you’ll notice that the prep time has its own dedicated section, and it usually takes far longer than the cook time. And unlike baking a dish in the oven or sauteing something on the stove, you can’t just walk away from preparing food. It doesn’t happen unless you do it. You can, however, try some of these meal prep tips that will give you hours back every week.
REMOVING POTATO SKIN
Stop peeling your potatoes when they’re raw; the skin is the most stubborn when the potato is raw. Instead, as soon as your potatoes are boiled, throw them in extra cold water. When you remove them, just roll the potatoes in your hands, and the skin will come right off.
BUY SEASONAL PRODUCE
For farmers to give you produce when it’s not in season, they have to put it through all sorts of processes that strip them of flavor. Then you spend time in your kitchen adding flavor. Skip that, and just buy seasonal, flavorful produce.
MICROWAVE BEFORE USING THE OVEN
Here’s a tip; most frozen items that call for 20-30 minutes in the oven don’t need to spend the whole time in the oven. Usually, if you microwave them for two or three minutes before, they can just go in the oven for eight to 12 minutes.
If your recipe calls for several garlic cloves, you’re facing a lot of peeling time. Try this: take the whole, intact head of garlic, place it with the fatter, rounder part down and the tips of the cloves up. Now smack your hand down on the top of it. This will shake the cloves loose. If you toss them all in a closed container, like Tupperware, and shake it with all of your might, most of the peel will come off.
CHOP AND WASH ALL YOUR LETTUCE AT ONCE
Cutting, rinsing, and drying lettuce takes forever. So, first of all, if you don’t already have a salad strainer, it’s time to get one. Now, save tons of time by chopping and rinsing all of your lettuce for the week at once. That way, you only need to clean your strainer once, too.
If you need softened butter—not melted and not hard but softened—all you can do is wait. But you can wait for less time if you shred the hard block of butter as if it’s cheese. It will soften must quicker in shreds.
If you’re boiling a dozen eggs to have a quick protein snack on hand all week, peeling them can be exhausting. But you don’t have to: you can cut an egg in half, with the shell on, just like an avocado, and spoon out the halves.
BUY WEIGHTED, BALANCED KNIVES
If you’re not using the right knives, you’re wasting time every time you do prep work. A good, weighted knife does all the work for you, so you don’t have to press it down into hard vegetables.
CHOP IT ALL WHEN THE CHOPPING BOARD IS OUT
Seriously; think of how much time you take cleaning the cutting board, any drying devices like salad spinners, and your knives each time you cut vegetables. If you already have these devices out, take a look in your fridge, and ask yourself if there is anything else you should be chopping for this week.
THROW AWAY NOTHING
One boiled egg here, a half serving of pasta here, a handful of sauteed mushrooms there and a little lettuce is a full lunch. So don’t throw away even the tiniest of leftovers.
Check out the full list of tips at www.madamenoire.com.