Preparing food when you’re unpacking your supermarket shop is a game changer. Normally when we get our food shop home we unpack it, make space in the fridge and put it away. But what if we prep the food as soon as it comes into the house? What a game changer that would be. I’m not talking about making whole meals, Im taking about preparing individual elements or ingredients.
This approach to unpacking your supermarket shop means that we only “handle” food twice: once when it comes into the house whilst unpacking your supermarket shop and again when we come to eat it. Usually we “handle” food multiple times as we unpack it, then cook with it, possible several different times, not to mention shuffling it around in the fridge to make space for other items. Preparing it in this way often removes a lot of extra bulk so that it takes up less space in the fridge too.
1. Make Time
Prepping your food is quick and easy…and it will save you tins of time through the week. But you need to make sure you have the time set aside enough time to unpack your supermarket shop most effectively.
The key is to make sure you have a clear two hours where you can be at home after you get the shopping home. This will give you time to chop, cook and cool you food. Don’t worry, you won’t be slaving away for the whole two hours…whilst it’s cooking away you can get on with your to do list, sorting out the kids or just put your feet up. But you need to be around to take care of each step.
So make sure you shop, or get your food delivered, when you will have some time: not just before meal times or bed time. Do it when you know you’ll have some energy to do the prep – if you’re a morning person do it then, if you’re a night owl do it late. Make is work for you so that you are more likely to do it. You’ll fee so good once it’s done…and every time you come to prep a meal throughout the week.
2. Prep Your Food
The aim of this step is to get your food ready to eat – so the next time you handle the food, it’s when you’re going to assemble your meal. That means cooking where necessary, portioning up, refrigerating what you are going to eat over the next few days and freezing the rest.
For me, by far the easiest and tastiest way to prep veg and meat is in the oven, and roasting is my favourite because it intensifies the flavour, prep is super quick to do and you don’t have to stand over food whilst it’s cooking.
As soon as you get home, put the oven on. I always put it on at 200C but that’s quite hot…I’m an impatient cook, so you might want to choose a lower setting.
While the oven is heating up, put your carbs on to boil e.g. rice, quinoa, pearl barley – that sort of stuff.
Then move on to preparing the oven stuff: chop what needs to be chopped and arrange everything on oven trays. Bung it in the over and set a timer.
Now it’s time to move on to stuff that requires no cooking e.g. grate cheese – keep some in the fridge and freeze the rest in portions sizes, freeze extra bread, same with milk and butter.
Watch out for more detail on how to do each of these in my next couple of blogs.
3. Store it Properly
So you’ve spent ages chopping and cooking, now it’s done right? WRONG!! There’s one more step: storing it.
First let it cool, then put what you’re going to eat over the next few days in a container, cover and refrigerate. For the extras, portion them up and freeze. The portioning up is super important so you can get just the right amount out when you need it. A portion in this case is the amount you will need for one meal. If there are four of you in your household them freeze the amount that will be enough for your people.
For example, if you are freezing rice: weigh out enough for a portion e.g. 60g per person is a good amount for most carbs. You want a bag or container that holds all the portions of rice but you want the portions separate so that you can take one portion out at a time. I have a big freezer bag and within that I put individual portions in smaller freezer bags. To save on waste, when I user a portion I was and reuse the freezer bag.
If freezing sauces or purees I tend to pour into a silicone muffin tin and freeze that. Once frozen I take them out of the tin and put them into a freezer bag.
Remember to label your freezer bags with the contents and when you made it. You will get confused if you don’t! Use a permanent marker to do this. And keep the marker in the same drawer as your as your freezer bags – it reduces the faff of finding it which makes it more likely you’ll do it.