Sunday, March 4, 2012

Planning and Prep Made Simple

The secret to “FAST” weekly meals is planning ahead. Prepping and planning ahead is what chefs do every day to insure their restaurant runs smoothly and efficiently.
  • SELECT the menu for the week. Align you menu choices with you weekly schedule. On your busiest nights choose the simplest recipes, freezer meals, crock pot meals or soup – salad combos. On days you have more time chose more in-depth recipes and roast.
  • CREATE a shopping list based on the recipes.
  • DOUBLE ANY RECIPE that can be made ahead and frozen.
  • KEEP weekly plans and shopping list that you like in a weekly recipe binder. Next time you want to repeat the plan it with be ready to go. 
  • SHOP AND CHOP any items that can be made ahead such as vegetables and fruit, marinades and dressings. 
  • Shop the perimeter of the store for real food
  • Less is more. Package foods with fewer ingredients tend to be less processed and contain fewer additives
  • Unpackaged foods such as fruits and vegetables are good for you and the environment
  • Choose real foods. Real foods are foods found in nature that can be gathered, picked, hunted or fished
  • Choose good fats –nuts, avocado, cold pressed olive oil, flax seed oil, wild fatty fish such a salmon
  • Choose colorful carbs-such as fruit and vegetables
  • Choose a variety of whole grains-organic oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, barley
  • Choose a variety of proteins-meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, nut butters and beans (beans must be served with whole grains to make a complete protein)
  • Read labels and avoid: high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, enriched flour, partially hydrogenated oils, margarine and MSG
  • Every 4 grams of sugar is approximately one packet of sugar
  • Try something new each week such as almond butter instead of peanut butter
  • Introduce you family to a new fruit or vegetable each week
  • Nuts and trail mixes make a great substitution for snack foods such as chips, candy and other processed foods
  • Choose only foods that contain ingredients that you recognize and can find in your cupboards or refrigerator
  • Eliminate ALL artificial sweeteners from your diets, try Stevia as it is the only safe non caloric sweetener, don’t be afraid to use a dab of REAL food to sweeten your food or beverage; honey, maple syrup or palm sugar to name a few
  • Make sure the foods that you choose will spoil or have an expiration date.  Foods that last forever are not good choices
Prep Box Tips 
  • Prep boxes should be square or rectangle, clear glass or plastic, have lids and be stackable. elocknlock has leak proof plastic containers.  Use ones with tray inserts for produce to make it last longer.  Pyrex rectangle set is a good choice because they come in many sizes to suit any size family, they are clear, lids and bottoms can be purchase together or separate, leak proof lids are available and they are freezer and oven safe. 
  • Make Your Own Prep Plan or visit the nourishmd for a free One Easy System Print Outs to help with this step.  Example-chop all of you onions for all your recipes at one time. 
  • Make your prep boxes just after grocery shopping. This allows you to make any meal quickly and easily during the week.  
  • Prep ahead anything from your menu that will last at least 3 days-Marinades, dips, ground beef mix for meatloaf, salad lettuce etc. 
  • Chicken and beef can be marinated overnight but seafood should be mix with the marinade 30 minutes or less before cooking. 
  • Celery, carrots and potatoes should be stored in filter water. 
  • Fill your prep boxes to suit your family size, tastes and menu plan for the week.
  • SALAD BOX-Clean and chopped lettuce and greens for salads 
  • VEGETABLE BOX 1-Cleaned and peeled carrots and celery sticks in water 
  • VEGETABLE BOX 2-Peppers sliced into strips and onions peeled and sliced 
  • FRUIT BOX-Fresh fruit chopped, either combined or kept separate. Keep pineapple separate from other fruit. 
  • HERB BOX-Herbs covered with wet paper towel, a small bowl with pre-chopped herds. Garlic and ginger root would be kept in this box. 
  • MISCELLANEOUS BOX-Cooked Bacon, boiled eggs, leftover cooked meat (roast make great preservative free lunch meat), leftover baked potatoes, tuna salad
  • Carrot and celery sticks, banana, apple and pear slices and nut butter or sunflower butter
  • Cooked meat or tuna salad wrapped in lettuce or tortilla
  • Celery sticks with cream cheese or peanut butter, raisins and nuts
  • Smoothies and Fresh fruit, yogurt and nut parfaits 
  • Quesadillas, fajitas, wraps and enchiladas 
  • Stir fries, rice pilaf and pasta dishes
  •          Green salads, tuna salad, chicken salad and egg salad 
  • Baked potato bar
  • Veggies and hummus, dip or nut butter 
  • Tuna or chicken salad with veggie scoops, in a wrap or on whole grain bread
  • Deviled eggs
  • Frittatas and omelets 
  • Fresh trail mix 
Prep Boxes

When you have PREP BOXES made you will always have dinner at your fingertips even when you forget to make it; just eat right out of the box.  We do this at least one meal a week.  It is out version of “fast food”.  I declare it PICK UP STICKS night and we grab a bunch of tooth picks and start eating right out of the boxes.  The bonus is no dishes!   You can’t beat that with a stick!

If all of this seems overwhelming start out small; try doubling any recipes that can be frozen and prepping your fruits and vegetables for snacks.  Once that becomes a habit add another prep step.  Keep adding until you are comfortable.  The point of the system is to make it easier and not harder so take it one PREP at a time!
Chef Jackie
This system was developed with Chef Kelli Lewton from purefood2u.


  1. you're inspiring me to get my act together:)!

  2. I love the idea of having everything prepped and ready to use! Great information!


  3. Wow! I love the prep idea for a bunch of reasons... Ease of cooking, ready healthy choices... I could go on & on! Thanks so much for sharing!