One of the highly recommended strategies for budget-friendly and healthy eating is meal preparation. This is a no-brainer considering how you do not pay extra for services, and you know exactly what goes into your dishes. Therefore, if you’re on a diet, it’s so much easier to stick to the foods that you need to eat.
But, meal preparation is not easy for most people. It requires planning, time, and most importantly cooking skills. For some, they see it the activity as an opportunity to make all kinds of mistakes that may optimally lead to food poisoning.
The reality is, meal preparation is not as complicated a process as a lot of people think it is. The all-too-common mistakes are easy enough to prevent. Here are six simple lessons on quick and easy meal preparation.
Lesson 1: Elevate dishes using healthy grab and go products.
Grab and go food products such as energy-boosting snacks (protein bars, and nuts and seeds) are quite versatile. So, do not limit your consumption of these treats to just being munchies when you’re on the go.
You can add them to a variety of desserts, salads, soups, and even rice. It doesn’t even matter if the snacks are savory and sweet. You will be surprised by how their flavor harmoniously blends with other food and elevates dishes.
Lesson 2: Big is always better than small.
This is the case with pans, pots, cutting boards, and other kitchen essentials. There’s always a lower likelihood of messing up what you’re making in the kitchen when you are working with bigger utensils.
For example, when cooking pasta. It’s better that the pot is way bigger than necessary. You can be sure that the noodles will cook thoroughly. This is not the case with a smaller pot.
Ditto with a cutting board. It’s safer and more sanitary to have more room to chop or slice. If you only use a tiny cutting board, you raise the risk of cutting yourself. Not only that, you’ll waste energy and time corralling your ingredients.
Lesson 3: A meal does not need to be solid all the time.
Liquid meals are quicker to make and usually do not require cooking. Incorporate them more into your weekly menu, especially if you have hectic days ahead.
For that day when you need to be at the office early, and you need to be powered up for the rest of the day, make sure you have your cold brew butter coffee in a tumbler. This will keep you energized and adequately nourished throughout the day.
Not up for coffee? Breakfast smoothies then. These are packed with nutrition because you can make them with a variety of fruits and even vegetables. If you want to give your smoothies a little chew, throw in some dried fruits, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit slices.
Lesson 4: Do not overcrowd your pan.
Stuffing pans and pots with ingredients may seem like a smart way to cook things faster and to ensure that there are fewer items to wash later on. However, this usually results in improperly cooked food.
When your cooking vessel is overflowing with ingredients, the heat rises from the cooking surface and gets trapped under the food. This, then, creates steam, which makes ingredients soggy and overall awful, texture-wise.
To help cook meats thoroughly, make sure that they do not touch each other in the pan. Also, cook in batches to help maintain the ideal cooking temperature.
Lesson 5: Do not throw ingredients in while the pan’s still cold.
The pan or pot, whether it is oiled or not, should always be hot enough before you throw in any ingredient. This will prevent meats and other ingredients from sticking stubbornly to the surface and turning into a mangled mess when you try to flip or mix them.
Always give your empty pan for about a minute or two to heat up. Then, add the oil – wait for it to shimmer, and finally, add your ingredients.
Lesson 6: Avoid turning the meat too often when frying.
Turning meat too often when frying will make it absorb too much oil. At the same time, it may lose its structural integrity. If you want to make sure that the meat is not burning on one side, listen to the sizzle of the oil. If it has gone quieter, the meat is most likely cooked on one side already.
Another strategy for determining the doneness of the meat is by just lifting the sides a little. If it’s sufficiently brown, you can already flip the meat. Also, squeeze and prod the meat. If there’s not much blood oozing from the top, it’s time to turn it to the other side.
These are the basics, and yet, a lot of people overlook their importance in ensuring that their kitchen pursuits are a success. So, master these fundamentals, and for sure, meal preparation will not only be so much easier for you but also results consistently in delectable and healthy dishes.
Dave Asprey is the creator of the widely popular Bulletproof Coffee, host of the #1 health podcast, Bulletproof Radio, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Bulletproof Diet.” Through his work, the Silicon Valley investor and technology entrepreneur provides information, techniques and keys to taking control of and improving your biochemistry, your body and your mind so they work in unison, helping you execute at levels far beyond what you’d expect, without burning out, getting sick, or allowing stress to control your decisions.