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U.P. Guide to: Stress-Free Food Prep

Anyone who knows me will know just how much I HATE cooking, and I mean HATE. My usual approach is that if it takes me longer to cook than it does to eat, I won’t bother. Despite this I wasn’t blessed with genetics that allow me to be anything less than militant on my diet at all times. I won’t go into it here, but as a lot of you know, stress will do nothing for your health or your body composition, managing it is crucial. I’ll go into that in depth in another post but in the mean time this is one way that I manage mine.

Plato once said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” and he was right. My hatred of food prep yet my necessity to do so has put me on an epic quest to find the simplest, easiest and most stress free ways of getting it done. I’ve journeyed to the farthest corners of the “kitchen sections” in department stores in search of the holy grail of food prep for the lazy bastard. Below are my top tips and must haves in order to minimise stress for those of you who like me, don’t like cooking.

Keep it simple

If like me the pleasure of cooking eludes you, my advice is to keep it as simple as possible. Simple, natural, organic ingredients. Uncomplicated flavouring, recipes and simple cooking techniques. I find it easiest not to vary my food sources meal to meal, but day to day. By this I mean that each morning I will prepare five to seven meals, usually choosing one meat/poultry/fish source, two or three variations of vegetables, throw the whole lot onto one baking tray and put it in the oven. With a sharp knife at hand I can have all of this prepped, placed, spiced and into the oven in the time it takes my coffee machine to fill my cup just past the half way line. (sometimes I do try to race it). Then the following day, I will make different food choices, but prep in exactly the same way. Simple.

Buy pre-prepared spices

This is a big one for me, some of you guys have the skill to understand flavours, what to add where and how much. Me, not so much. Most supermarkets will have pre prepared spice combinations such as barbecue, texan, mexican, italian, etc. When it comes to flavouring almost any type of food, I recommend using these highly.

Use garlic

Garlic seems to make everything better (except that first kiss if you’ve had too much). It makes most foods taste great, Its nutrient dense, boosts immune function, can reduce blood pressure, lowers risk of heart disease, contains antioxidants, detoxifies heavy metals, may improve bone health and keeps vampires away apparently. Be aware however that some people may have an intolerance to allicin which can cause a bit of digestive stress. If this is the case, stay away from it, onions too.

Buy enough BPA-free food containers

As silly as this sounds, make sure that you have at least 10 to fifteen food containers to make sure that you always have some clean, and on hand. If you work long days its easy to forget to bring them home from work, or leave them unwashed. You’d be surprised how often  I’ve seen this used as an excuse as to why someone didn’t prep their food. Be prepared.

Buy in bulk when possible

Do your shopping in bulk, it saves time, money and effort. A lot of local markets and good butchers will supply you with fantastic organic foods at a discounted rate if you buy larger quantities. For those of you with lower incomes, this would be a great way to approach things. If you have a group of friends with common goals and interests, get together and buy your produce in bulk.

Cook in bulk

This isn’t something that I do personally only because I don’t have the space in my freezer to keep this volume of food frozen. That and the thought of spending more than 5 mins prepping food in one go makes me want to head butt a cheese grater a thousand times. But I have a lot of friends and colleagues who spend their Sundays prepping for the week to save time and stress in the mornings. Whip up all of your meals on one day and stash them in the freezer ready to take them out as and when you need.

Invest in time saving tools

This has been a bit of a revelation to me, spend the money, buy the right equipment and your life will be far easier. Here are my top kitchen picks.

  • Phillips Pro Blend 6 – a top quality high performance blender. It shreds practically anything I could put into it, has no problems smashing through ice, veg, fruits and anything else I can find. If I’ve had a long busy day and have come in late on my last meal and really don’t have the appetite to put it away. I have been known to dump it all into this blender. Within 30 seconds I have an easy to digest velvety smooth soup which geos down an absolute treat.
  • Extra large George Foreman grill – Fits a whole day’s food in it, grills it to perfection, cooks anything and is about as easy as it gets. The ultimate lean, mean grilling machine is still the king in my eyes. I think mine fits something like 12 chicken breasts in it.
  • Digital scales – Take the guesswork out of your cooking, get your macros right every time with a good set of digital scales. I use these Salter ones shown below.
  • Sharp knives – You’re going to pay for this, but suck it up and get a good set first time round and you’ll save a lot of money in the long run. Strong, sharp knives will cut down your prep time massively as they glide through steak, veg and anything else you can use them on. Just be careful with your delicate fingers, and don’t cook naked. Bad shit can happen!
  • Non-stick pots and pans – I’m an impatient man, this means quite often I cook things on too high a heat and get myself into sticky situations. I spend more time washing food off of my pans than I do cooking it. Until I bought good non stick versions. It saves me a ton of time and effort and there’s some kind of strange satisfaction watching the grease glide off to reveal a sparkling pan with not much more than a rinse of hot water. Just like the old fairy adverts.

I hope this helps those of you who are similar to myself. I prefer to spend my time on other things so in reality, this approach allows me to be efficient, not lazy. Yeah I like that, I’m going with that. I have more time to do the things that I see as more useful towards achieving my goals.

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