One of my favorite things about big family gatherings is the leftovers. All that work that went into preparing a big dinner pays off, not only in the great time you had with loved ones, but the meals that were at the ready for days afterward. So why not apply this concept to everyday food prep to save time? When you’re already in the kitchen preparing dinner, prep additional items to have healthy foods at the ready for lunches and snacks throughout the week. Here are a few simple things you can do while you’re already elbow-deep in food prep:
- The obvious – make larger portions so you can have extra servings for a sandwich or for salad toppings.
- Wash, clean and cut other vegetables in addition to what you’re serving with dinner. For example: prep celery and carrots so they will be at your fingertips for tomorrow’s lunch and for healthy snacks during the week. If they are clean and ready to go, you’ll save time later and be more likely to eat these healthy options over a handful of chips.
- Wash and/or cut fruit for dessert even before you’ve started making dinner, so the healthy after-meal sweet is at your fingertips, instead of requiring one more task after you’ve relaxed with your meal. And, of course, cut enough for the whole week, or at least for a few days.
- Prep a week’s (or several day’s) worth of salad. One trick I use for keeping greens fresh is to make sure they are thoroughly dried, then wrap them in paper towels to absorb the moisture that builds up. It has extended the life of many of my favorites, such as the mixed greens, or the Kale salad from Costco.
Was the dishwasher full of clean dishes when you started to make dinner? Did you NOT want to take the time to empty it? Overcome the urge to put it off. If you empty it first, it will be easier to just throw the dirty dishes in as you go, instead of them piling up in the sink. As my mother always says, handle things once to save yourself time.
And when you do sit down to eat, don’t forget your Cravaat®, because just when you think you won’t spill, it happens. In the end, you’ll save time because you won’t have a stain to deal with. Take those few extra seconds to put on your dining scarf and make your life easier.