Many things can improve your kitchen “coolness”. Use this 1-2-3 approach:
- The right equipment.
- A regular preparation system or ritual.
- A “can-do” attitude and willingness to experiment.
1. The Right Equipment
Kitchen essentials make meal prep easier. Here are some must-have’s for your kitchen:
- Slow Cooker – Set it and forget it! You can easily make enough food for several meals in one batch, with only minimal prep time.
- Blender – Helps you whip up Super Shakes, salad dressings, soups . . .
- Good cookware – You don’t need much. A simple non-stick omelet pan and a thick-bottomed sauté or frying pan will do the trick. Pair those up with a slow cooker, and you’re good to go.
- A quality chef’s knife – A good chef’s knife makes chopping your veggies and slicing your meats a breeze. You can get a good knife for $35 or so, but if you’re looking for something other than steel, check out the super-sharp (and slightly more expensive) ceramic knives.
- A silicon spatula – Perfect for scrambled eggs and omelets.
- A wooden spoon – Great for stir-frys and stirring.
- Cutting board – Because you don’t want to hack up your countertop.
- Food containers – Cook and prep in bulk; save your meals in the fridge or freezer.
There you go … 90% of your cooking needs looked after.
2. A Regular Preparation System or Ritual
Set a system or ritual for “food prep” activities. Pick a day or two each week to plan for the days or week ahead.
- Chop veggies for stir-fries, soups, chili, or to eat raw. You can also buy pre-washed, pre-chopped or baby veggies.
- Cook bulk protein like ground beef, chicken, or tofu. You can use a countertop grill (such as a George Foreman grill), an outdoor BBQ grill, or a roasting tray in your oven. Boil up a pile of eggs. Whatever works for you.
- Make a large quantity of easily-frozen or refrigerated dishes such as soups, stews, and chili. We give you a couple ideas on what to throw in a slow cooker below.
- Pop some ingredients for Super Shakes (protein powder, oats, etc.) into containers so you can grab and go.
- Do some extra food prep while you’re waiting for something else to cook. For example, while dinner is simmering or your breakfast oatmeal is in the microwave, chop a few veggies, wash some extra salad greens, make a Super Shake, etc., to have on hand for later.
- Make extra of whatever you’re cooking for any given meal. Pop the leftovers into smaller containers, and you’ve got your meals for tomorrow. It takes almost the same amount of time to scramble 4 or 6 eggs as it does to scramble 2.
You get the idea. A little thinking ahead can bring big results.
3. A “Can-Do” Attitude and Willingness to Experiment
Not sure where to start? Start building your basic ‘go-to’ meals – build on what you know – make it easy on yourself.
- write down five “go-to” meals you feel confident cooking. Could be scrambled eggs, oatmeal, grilled chicken, spicy vegetable soup, and beef burgers. Whatever they are, write ’em down.
- Once you have your five things, do a quick Google or Pinterest search to see how you can change it up a little bit by adding different herbs, spices, veggies, or sides.
- Mix and match ingredients and spices for variety and flavours.
- Experiment with spices and ingredients, and build on the skills you already have.
- One of the things I like to do is go to Pinterest and do a search on recipes for some key ingredients I have in the fridge. You will be surprised what comes up in your search.
Here’s an example based on soups – You can make awesome soups reminiscent of different parts of the world.
- Italian? Try some minestrone Jamie Oliver style.
- Mexican? Try some posole.
- African? How about peanut and squash soup?
- Chinese? Make hot and sour soup.
Notice how starting with one idea (soup) can give you unlimited possibilities?
Follow this 1-2-3 approach and you’ll not only tackle meal prep, you’ll save time and money, work towards a healthy eating pattern, and try new things. Use those skills and the following infographic to create the perfect meal. You will have endless possibilities to keep you looking forward to your meals.