Today’s guest blog was written by Remy Bernard. Remy is a professional Chef, and runs the website Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes, an excellent review site for all things related to cooking.
If you’re like me, you’re still working on your cooking skills, this post and Remy’s blog will be very helpful for you to follow.
Enjoy the post, and go forth and prep your meals with ease.
Food prep, without a doubt, has been one of the most important strategies on my fitness journey. Not only does it end up saving me a bunch of money by buying in bulk, but I also end up eating healthier, more consistently and in line with my goals. For me, staying on track with training can be a challenge with my schedule, so removing the worry about buying the right meals with the proper macros from the equation makes a huge difference.
In my professional life I am a chef, so I may be at a slight advantage in that I enjoy cooking, but weekly food prep can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. I know people that don’t mind eating the same meal 2-3 times a day 5 days a week, and while I can tolerate the lack of variety to a certain extent, I’m happier when I mix it up a bit.
For those of you that might be a little lost on where to start, I wanted to put together some of the essentials that I use in my kitchen to make food prep much easier and far less time consuming. Cooking effectively is all about arming yourself with the right tools, and once you have those figured out, everything else falls into place.
The slow cooker is, without hesitation, the most used and convenient tool in my kitchen (except for my trusty Jura coffee maker, but my coffee addiction is another story altogether). If there is one piece of equipment that I would label “essential,” it’s the crock-pot.
As far as protein is concerned, the crock-pot can handle anything you throw at it. From huge roasts to whole chickens and everything in between, it’s nice being able to dump several ingredients into it, set the timer, and walk away knowing in a few hours you’ll have something delicious. I also love to make stews, chili and even soups in it, which I can then quickly portion out into servings for the entire week. Additionally, most of the slow cookers made today can double up as a vegetable steamer as well, which opens up another huge list of possibilities. If you don’t have one of these, head over to Amazon and buy one now… you’ll thank me later.
The Right Spices & Seasonings
Having basic spices on hand can mean the difference between bland chicken and white rice week after week, and something you might actually look forward to. When you think of regional dishes from around the world, many of them contain the same ingredients overall, they are just simply seasoned differently. For example, a little lemon juice and oregano will give your chicken a Greek flair, while adding some garlic, basil and diced tomatoes will produce a more Italian dish.
I would suggest stocking up on these essentials and experimenting from there:
- Lemon Juice
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Curry Powder
- Garlic Powder
High Quality Cookware
One of the best things I ever did for my kitchen was transition away from cheap, non-stick cookware to something a little nicer and more reliable. This doesn’t have to mean a huge investment, but with I found with really cheap pans, the handles would inevitably become too loose to use, the cooking surface would burn and no longer transfer heat very well, and I’d have to replace them several times in a year anyway.
The good thing is you don’t need to worry about buying everything all at once. My suggestion is always replace one thing at a time, and before you know it you will be cooking like the pros. If you don’t know what piece of cookware to start with, go with a piece that is going to give provide you with the ability to cook many types of meals, like a thick enameled dutch oven or a quality copper cookware set.
After you have the basics covered, then you get can get more specialized.
Digital Kitchen Scale
Depending on how careful you are about your calories and macros, this may or may not save your life. For me, if I’m going through all the trouble of preparing my food ahead of time, I’m going to make darn sure I know what’s going into my body from a caloric perspective. After all, one of the best things about prepping your food is being able to control exactly what you’re consuming and not having to rely on guesswork or many times inaccurate nutrition info at restaurants that provide it.
Just go on Amazon and find a good size scale that is well reviewed and you should be fine. I also have a pocket scale for small amounts and for when I’m eating out or traveling, but this totally isn’t a requirement.
Food Storage Containers
Next up is actually storing and transporting the food you made. I’ve tried a lot of different options here and the one thing I’ve learned is that again, investing a little is going to pay off in the long run. Now, I’m not saying that I’m against plastic and that it won’t work for you, because it will. But in the end, glass storage containers last longer, are easier to clean in the dishwasher and are better for the environment.
I’m personal a fan of the brand Pyrex for many things in the kitchen and their storage containers are no exception. One of the things I love most about them is just how much food I’m able to get into one container without taking up a ton of space in my fridge. If you aren’t going to go the glass route, then your standard Tupperware will work just fine too!
The food prep world is a big one, and these are just a few of the top items on my list for someone just getting started. But these will get you most of the way there, and forging your own path is half the fun. Good luck!
Remy Bernard – Owner and Editor at Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes.
A baker, chef and writer, Remy started Miss Mamie’s Cupcakes as a way to deepen and spread her passion for making delicious food. Since starting the blog, her focus has shifted to a more eco-conscious, greener way of living that emphasizes small steps which can have a big impact.