Read the first half of this article: Shopping with Intention
You have bags of groceries after returning from the store and start to think of what meals you can make from this purchase. Perhaps there is a recipe book you refer to, or if you are a week planner, maybe a meal plan has been roughly constructed. But where do you go from here?
Being a Chef, I even have stress thinking about prepping for my next dinner. Balancing a full workload with the week’s daily stresses takes a toll on our mindsets. This is when following my step-by-step plan for making meals comes in handy.
- Organize Your Thoughts: after a hard day’s work, the brain can feel extremely overwhelmed. Take this time write down your thoughts about what to make and how cooking makes you feel. This can be a trying process for many; don’t feel like you have to start from scratch either! Using a recipe or pre-cut produce is a great start.
Quick Tip: use a recipe like a guide, never follow it exactly. You may need to amend ingredients to suit your taste or dietary preferences.
- Break It Down: when you’ve put some thought into meal planning, start thinking of how you can shorten the cooking process. Many ingredients can be used in other recipes. Maybe you want cauli-rice in stir fry this week and curry next week. Use half the bag for one dish, and freeze the other half. I personally love to buy certain goods in bulk for this very purpose of reusing for the future. Mark these items on your recipe or wherever you’ll see it.
- Set Your Perspective: now that you have goals planned, time to set your mindset. Take a few minutes to create an environment that promotes a positive culinary environment. If you enjoy listening to music or like to have pictures of your family near you, play music and place those pictures around your kitchen. In the case that the actual cooking process intimidates you, the first thing to do is relax and breathe. Look at videos of how to hold a knife, cut an onion, or even how to sauté cut vegetables. If this is a goal to get better, take the time to do it properly.
- Start the Prep and Think Ahead: next, you want to have an idea of how to organize your steps and what items to use later. Knowing your week’s schedule, make adjustments to your meal prep list so that you have the appropriate amount you are comfortable with doing throughout the week. You don’t want to get to Wednesday and then worry about thawing a whole roast or chopping vegetables for an hour. Many food items can be stored for later, even after cooking, so that time is shaved off your future meal prep and it saves you mental stress!
- Moment of Gratitude: this is the most important step, particularly when you have a high-level stress week. Living in a fast-paced environment, we forget to give ourselves gratitude for the work we do every day. After you prepare your meals, take a few minutes to admire your creation. Meditate on the goal you achieved. Savor this treat that YOU made, not a store or a restaurant or a fast-casual eatery. This is your meal, your nourishment, and your accomplishment.
Enduring work stress can make us feel like cooking will take days to do. Following these simple steps, your mental anxiety about meal prepping will subside with everyday practice and routine.