One of the most important keys to my weight loss and maintenance is making home cooked meals. I work 40-50 hours a week at a full time job, so I understand all too well the feeling of, "I'm too tired to cook. Maybe I should order a pizza".
While I learned to cook fast meals by watching Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals" on the Food Network, it takes me a lot longer than 30 minutes if I have to prep and chop everything on the fly. I'm just not as fast as Rachael chopping, or something!
One of the things I do to shortcut things is to do all my veggie chopping on the weekend when I have more time. I typically do my grocery shopping on a Saturday. I put on a "sous chef" apron on Sunday and chop them up.
I usually have an idea of what I want to make for a week ahead of time, but sometimes I change my mind or get an inspiration to try something on the fly. Having ingredients already prepped and ready to go makes this a snap.
Here's my veggies for the week all chopped up, put in containers and ready to go!
I have bell peppers sliced into strips and into rings. I'll use the strips for stir-fries, and the rings typically go into salads.
Romaine lettuce chopped into salad bites. The bigger leaves I reserve for lettuce wraps for my stir fry I'm making for dinner tonight.
Sliced onions are for stir fries. Diced onions are so versatile, they go into just about anything. Always handy to have ready, even if I don't have a menu planned.
Celery chopped into pieces for salads. Cut into sticks for snacking. I've reserved the celery hearts for a soup, stew or roast.
Chopped green onion. I like to have these for marinades as they give a nice mild oniony flavor without being too strong. Also great for sprinkling as a garnish, if I'm so inclined.
Carrots for either snacking or recipes. I like baby carrots because they are a great size to throw into a pot without a lot of prep work. Or ready to go for healthy snacking.
Half a cabbage head shredded for spring rolls. The rest of the cabbage may be steamed for wraps.
Brussel sprouts. I may sound weird, but I love brussel sprouts! There is an 'Iron Chef' challenge on the Culinary Artists Sparkteam this week for brussel sprouts as well, so these may come into play with some inspiration.
Everything is sealed and ready to go in the fridge!
If this looks like a lot, it is. We eat a ton of veg at my house though. I eat a salad for lunch and dinner, so there's at minimum 10 salad portions, just for me. I eat big salads, not puny 'side' salads. The fiance usually eats a salad for dinner, so there's an additional 5 veg servings.
If there's any leftover veg at the end of the week, it will get thrown into a pot either to make a stock/broth, or a soup/stew. Nothing will go to waste, promise.
The veggies are done, now the fruit is prepped. Cubed watermelon, diced fresh pineapple, grapes, bananas, oranges and limes. Not pictured here are frozen blueberries I like to put in my yogurt and cereal in the morning for breakfast. I prefer the frozen kind because I can buy a big bag, and just use small quantities when I want them.
My limes and orange "tree". I like having a lot of limes on hand for flavoring my water. I also use them for marinades and other flavorings. Oranges are eaten as a snack, or used as marinade flavoring as well.
This took about half my Sunday to get done, but I don't mind. I had plenty of goof off time. I actually look forward to the Sunday chopping. I find it a great time to be alone with my thoughts. I listen to music, or just reflect in silence. Making all this ahead of time will save me the hassle during the week, where it's too easy to say, "I'm too tired to cook". All I have to do now is throw stuff in a pan and go. That's time well spent, in my book.