How to Prep Whole Foods for Cooking - dummies

By Meri Reffetto

Food prep like chopping vegetables or marinating some chicken for your meal is really the most time consuming part of cooking meals at home. When you look at a meal like chili or stew, it’s really so simple to cook. Just throw in the ingredients and let it simmer while you move on with your life.

You could also look at a simple meal of grilled salmon and vegetables. Throw them all on the grill until done and serve. The only part that takes a little time to prepare these meals is the chopping up onions, veggies, and meats. The good news is with practice it gets easier and faster.

Here are some tips to help make the prep work a little more bearable.

  • Plan your weekly meals with prep work in mind. If you’re going to roast a lot of vegetables for two different dinners, make sure to have those meals back to back so you can do your chopping in one night instead of two.

    For example, planning a pasta salad with veggies on Monday and burritos this week? Double up on roasting or grilling your veggies and use the leftovers for burrito night. This way, you’re doing prep work less often.

  • You can cut up an assortment of vegetables to have ready for different meals throughout the week. Keep in mind the more you cut foods and have them sit, the more nutrients you’ll lose, and the flavor won’t be as fresh. However, this is doable and far better than not having those fresh ingredients at all.

  • Take advantage of vegetables and fruit that don’t need to be cut. Cherry tomatoes, radishes, baby carrots — these are all items you can serve in a dish or just raw that need no processing. Eat like the folks in the Mediterranean region and add these items to your plate often. This especially works great for kids since they often enjoy cherry tomatoes and baby carrots.

  • Keep marinades simple. Using marinades for meat or seafood is such a great way to go. You get a ton of flavor when grilling or roasting. You don’t need a marinade that consists or 20 ingredients. Look for those that contain five or less simple ingredients, and mix it up.

    If marinating meats like chicken that can stay in the marinade longer than, say, something like shrimp (shrimp is too delicate to go too long) go ahead and get it going the night before. This saves time the next day, and you can come home to some simple cooking in the evening.

  • Get your knife skills in check. Most people don’t learn how to use a knife properly. It’s not a basic skill you learn in school. However, with proper knife skills you can learn to cut that onion very quickly and never think of chopping as a time-consuming chore again.