When prepping food is your job, you quickly figure out what's most important.
If you love food (and who doesn't?), take a peek at Micah Fredman's Instagram page. He's a chef in New York City who posts pictures of beautiful meals prepared for clients. Fredman owns a company called Private Chef, Delivered, that prepares customized meal plans. Based on whatever a person wants to eat, Fredman delivers 12 containers of food per order – 4 proteins, 4 vegetables, 4 grains or legumes – and the pictures are enough to make your mouth water.
In other words, Fredman is a guy who knows a thing or two about meal prep. So when his top 5 meal prep strategies are published in Bon Appétit, those of us with less experience should really pay attention. All five tips are interesting and helpful, but three in particular jumped out at me. These will certainly affect the way in which I approach meal prep from now on.
1. View it as a project, not a chore.
Mindset is everything. If you resent the burden of work involved with planning and preparing food up front, it will feel like a slog. A better approach is to feel inspired. Choose a theme for your week, like Madhur Jaffrey's Indian cuisine, an Ottolenghi/Mediterranean slant, or a vegan/vegetarian challenge. Set aside a chunk of time to get the work done, but turn your oven up high to work more efficiently. (That's actually one of his tips, too, but I've written about this before: The secret to cooking amazing vegetables.)
2. Cook like Grandma.
Here at TreeHugger we love telling people to live as Grandma did! Not only was her lifestyle more environmentally friendly, but her food was simple, frugal, hands-off, and easy to cook in large batches. Think stews, soups, braises, long-simmering beans, slow-rise breads, and such. These happen to be the same dishes that improve their flavor over time, making them perfect for midweek eating.
3. Add herbs and citrus at the end.
Prepping ingredients doesn't necessarily mean they're finished and ready to go. You have to remember the finishing touches, like a dusting of fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, but these cannot be added in advance. As Fredman writes, "The brightness and freshness they add are fleeting, so if you add them to your dish on Sunday, they’ll be neither fresh nor bright come Wednesday." Just don't forget them when mealtime rolls around.
The full list of advice is worth a read for any home cook. Check it out here.