This weekend I began thinking about food preparation from all aspects. Rather, what it actually takes to live in such a way where you are relatively sustainable in the kitchen and how one can imbue the importance of self-sufficiency onto others. In the same token, I am not under the illusion that everyone I meet enjoys cooking, execution of food readiness, or the many facets that are involved in pre-consumption, as much as I do. There are many challenges to be faced when it comes to involving oneself directly with meal planning and preparation, so I thought I would narrow down some of the main tasks I try to accomplish every weekend to ease my weekday duties. Granted, when you have a busy schedule these tips are key, but they may not be as necessary for those who have a free-flowing schedule. Additionally, the incongruous nature of a small ‘kitchen’ space or lack of kitchen gadgets can be frustrating and stifling, so I’d like to touch on this as well and offer a few helpful tips. So, as Mario says…”HERE WE GOOO!”
(These are in no particular order)
- Have some idea of what you do or don’t like and then make a list. Make a list of ‘things I won’t eat’ & ‘things I will eat’. This will help you understand where you’re limited and where you’re not limited in the kitchen.
- Consider the season and where your food comes from. Having some idea of what’s in season in the area you’re living in can be a tremendous help. It will allow you to choose vegetables & fruits at their fullest flavor. They will be easier to access, and most importantly higher in nutritional value for a lower cost. This might be a helpful website.
- Reflect on your schedule for the upcoming week. Are you going to be full-blast from the moment you awake until the moment your head hits the pillow at night, or will you have breathing room? Demarcating what ‘free’ time you have from ‘busy’ time will help in evaluating a smoothly run day.
- Once you have a handle on the ideas from above, decipher your weekly budget for groceries. Be realistic. Know that when you make a list you should stick to it, but sometimes we do waiver. Sometimes prices have risen, sometimes we pay a little extra for local/organic foods–if you’re in the position of doing so–and sometimes we buy bulk (grains, legumes, etc..).
- As mentioned previously, sit down and make a list of essential groceries necessary for the week. Take note of where you’ll need to shop, how early they open and what’s the best day of the week to go–again based on your schedule. Plan your route the day before heading out, so as to utilize all of your time–I’m sure this won’t suit some, but it’s a thought if timing is an issue.
- Pending the following items aren’t on your ‘things I won’t eat’ list, try these foods out as weekly staples (some will last longer than a week depending on how many you’re feeding): lemons, ginger root, celery, cucumber, original unsweetened almond milk-I purchase the SILK brand, gluten-free bread/Eng. Muffins, greens(collard, spinach, kale, spring mixes, lettuce, chard etc…), tempeh, coconut water, coconut oil, raw apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, quinoa & millet, kombucha or kefir water, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cabbage, carrots, avocados & sprouts, raw almond butter, raw cacao treats, yams or sweet potatoes and stevia.
- Plan out breakfasts, but don’t eat until you’re hungry! Green smoothies are your friend and try oats (gluten-free) in the morning and gluten-free toast with coconut oil spread on top.
- Conceptualize lunches and dinners, but don’t ‘plan’ them necessarily. I don’t always know exactly what I’m going to consume for every meal of every day of the week. This would feel suppressive and boring to me, so I conceptualize which helps in creating an adequate grocery list.
- Whichever day of the weekend you have free–assuming you have any portion free, change for another day of the week if your schedule is different–use this time for weekly prep. I say, chop up as many vegetables ahead of time as you possibly can. I try to cut up my snack vegetables–except cucumbers and bell peppers–ahead of time so that when I’m prepping for lunch/dinner/snacks I can just grab those with little thought.
- If access to a stove-top or oven is not an option, try planning more raw fresh meals. Invest in an inexpensive and small toaster oven. They can do wonders for fast food prep, energy conservation and space consolidation in a tiny or non-existent kitchen.
photo by: Jasmyne Rose – Myself & a friend in a kitchen from my past buried behind all those books.
- Essential kitchen gadgets to have: chopping board, chef’s knife & pairing knife, peeler, colander, sieve, containers for storage, measuring spoons and cups, and at least one large mixing bowl. There are many more I could list, but having had that tiny non-existent kitchen before, I understand the need for a micro-setup. I’d also suggest getting a small crock-pot if you have the space.
I know this list may perhaps come off as very obvious for some, but I hope it is a helpful guide for others. Also, know that the above mentioned ideas are not exhaustive and whenever I come up with new tips, I will post them.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I am more than happy to produce personalized detailed plans for any individual upon request.
And remember…bite responsibly.
Healthy and Spacious Regards,