Most of us love eating a delicious meal, but lots of us don’t so much enjoy the preparation process. It’s true that the time meal prep can take can be a bit trying. Having to deal with cooking a meal after a long day at work can be defeating. It seems much easier to order takeout, right? That’s certainly an easier option, but it also a more expensive; less healthy one; especially if you do it every night. Instead, why not try to find a way to make meal prep enjoyable? It’s possible if you’ll try a few of these tips.
Create the Space
If you walk into the kitchen and see a lack of inspiration everywhere you look, you’ll likely just grab those take out menus. Your kitchen should be inviting; it’s the heart of the home. Kitchen renovations can also be very expensive, but you can create an inviting kitchen without a big budget. The first thing, of course, is to get it really clean; all of the surfaces. To do this, you need to be able to see your counters.
Clear the clutter! You don’t have to have every appliance you own out on your counters. Put the toaster in a cabinet; even if you use it every day. This takes like 25 seconds to do. Put the bread and other food items away in the pantry or cabinet. Pare it all down to necessity, plus a few items for warmth/decor. The amount of counter space will dictate how much stuff should be seen.
Deep clean everything! That means the microwave, inside and out. Don’t neglect the interior of your oven; all of the spills you’ve intended to clean up- clean them up. Remember the top of your refrigerator- all kinds of dust bunnies can be lurking up there. Speaking of your fridge; go through all of the items in there and toss anything that’s expired. All of us have salad dressings or jar sauces that are past the expiration date. Toss those take out containers of food you never got around to eating. All of it! Now you can start with a clean slate. Wipe down your cabinets with a good grease cutting cleaner. You’ll breath new life into the space.
Get the Tools
Replacing your old dull knives and wonky utensils is probably not at the top of your to do list, but it’s important, none the less. Having high-quality knives and cutting boards make meal prep so much easier. Knowing that that gorgeous tomato is going to slice perfectly and the dice on that onion will be precise makes the process a joy. A sharp, good quality knife will also make it safer as using a dull knife can be dangerous. Choosing the correct knife out of your new block will simplify things as well. A good set of measuring spoons and cups seems like a no-brainer, but, I know of people who don’t have these items. Trust me: you need these items!
Invest in a good quality food processor for the times you’re preparing to feed a large number of people. A good standing mixer will make you want to create fabulous desserts because it lessens the work of mixing by hand. It also can be one of the pretty accessories you can display on the counter. Get a good set of storage and mixing bowls as well. Invest in tools that will make your life easier and you’ll find yourself using them.
Learn How to Create Different Meals
If your lack of knowledge is keeping you out of the kitchen, do some research. If you have favorite restaurant meals, do some searching on the good ol’ interwebs for similar recipes. Following a recipe is not difficult. If it includes some terms you are unfamiliar with; again; search the internet for a definition. There are videos out there that will cover literally everything you’ll need to know.
If you’re fairly familiar with recipes, don’t get into a rut. Cooking the same old thing week in and week out will discourage your meal preparation. You should look at playing with more interesting foods. Cooking at home doesn’t mean you can’t add some convenience items to the menu. You could pair frozen Asian food with a home-made sauce saving a bit of time. It’s best to start with some simple recipes until your culinary skills become more adept. You don’t want to start with a souffle for instance. A nice spaghetti or beef stroganoff are easy beginner meals. You can gradually work in more complicated recipes — you and your family will love it.
Get Others to Help
I’ve found that working in the kitchen with The Mean Man is something that we both really enjoy. It’s surprising quality couple time. It also makes the process of meal prep and cooking much less time consuming. Most recipes will call form some washing, peeling, chopping, or zesting. Having someone to share the tasks and space is a nice way to spend time together.
An extra set of hands also makes clean up go quicker. Lots of recipes call for the use of several pots and pans. Having someone on clean up duty while the other is still cooking leaves much less to clean up at the end of the meal. Wash those pots and pans as they are emptied and save the headache for when you’re ready to relax after mealtime.
Make it Fun
Some days you just want to get the job done. There’s nothing wrong with just getting down to business and getting the meal cooked and on the table. But, if you find yourself feeling dread at having to get a meal going, try to jazz stuff up. Literally. Turn on some music and get your grove on. You can totally have a dinner prep- dance party kind of moment. Remember, you’re pouring a bit of yourself into the meal you’re preparing. You’re sharing your love of family and friends by feeding them.
You’ll be rewarded with the enthusiasm of everyone around the table when they taste something delicious that you created. There is a real sense of satisfaction knowing people are enjoying the fruits of your labor.