Wednesday, June 2, 2010

True Life: How I Became a Pre-cooker

Thanks you guys! So fun to share my pre-cooking in photos - can't believe I hadn't done it yet!! I get so happy when I have a fridge full 'o tubs full 'o healthified grub!! Therefore, this post was inspired by your sweet comments and by some of Homecookedem’s questions to my last post, which highlighted my twice-weekly "marathon pre-cooking event." Here are the results of Sunday's 2-hour event for any who missed it!

Q: Did you come up with this on your own or was there someone who inspired you to start doing this? Have you always done this or did you start when you got married?

A: This was definitely not something I did before I was married, although it really had little to do with being married aside from me getting back from my honeymoon and realizing I’d gained a lot of weight and was the biggest I’d ever been. This was when I was like okay… time to work out. I worked out. I didn’t really lose much. My clothes fit better but the scale remained constant. I knew I was going to need to alter my eating, I discovered Hungry Girl and began cooking and doing meal plans (i.e. one plan per month - here are the dinners I will have). Then it turned into here are the breakfast, lunch and dinners I will have… and it progressed from monthly to weekly. However, I was cooking almost every night, and only making 2 of each recipe (was still trying them out and didn’t want to make four servings of a recipe and not like it!). I was worried I was going to burn out!

Finally, once I really started building up a list of recipes we loved/wanted to have again (thanks to your blogs, my sister's cookbooks, my friend Monica's recipes and so on and so forth!), I realized I could make like 10-11 recipes and be DONE for the week (as opposed to 20+!). Granted, I still wanted to try new recipes, but I got more confident with what I tried and some things I just KNEW we would like (based on past recipes, ingredients lists, fabulous sources like For the Love of Cooking, etc.) so I felt comfortable making four servings straight out of the gate.

Around January 2009 I started making these ‘meal plan packets.’ A lot of the reason was because of Austin – he was tired of having to look up recipes on my blog and in my word documents. He wanted to help more but it was hard because my stuff was in multiple places on my personal computer! This ‘packet’ would have meals for 7 days, a list of all recipes and a list of all ingredients. This worked WELL for us. I wanted to make several different packets so that, eventually, I would just rotate through the packets and be done with it! I’m still working on this part – it’s hard because I feel like I still want to try new things and sometimes I’m SO in the mood for a recipe that’s not on the meal packet! I think I’m up to 12 packets (some have overlap) and am still making new recipes/packets. During October 2009, I posted How I Plan Meals: 8 Steps to give as much of an overview as possible of what I found worked for me and Austin. Also, it’s gotten even easier now that I’ve been making more and more recipes for SIX servings – this was huge for me! Haha

So to answer Em’s question, I think I slowly came up with a system that worked for us on my own. It was almost like a failsafe – I really had no excuse to not eat what was prepared and I HATE wasting food so I tend to stick with it. It’s kind of like turning the ‘clean plate club’ on its head and being like well you HAVE to eat these healthified/portion-controlled/pre-cooked meals or you’ll WASTE them! I don’t know that anyone really inspired me to do it, and I didn't even know where I was headed when I started out, but people sure supported me, especially Austin, and I think that’s what’s made it easier to keep on keeping on!

Now I usually make packets, grocery shop, and do the majority of my cooking/prepping on Sundays (while watching Friends or SATC on DVD in the kitchen), and then cook again on Thursday during lunch. (I work from home Thursday and by then it’s usually like 3-4 recipes and I’ve prepped for them on Sunday so easy peasy/1 hour tops).

So what’s next? I plan to:
  • Create 20-25 solid meal plan packets that I can have on hand (I'm about halfway there).
  • Organize the packets by season (i.e. chilis for my "winter" packets; fruit/sammies for my summer packets, etc.). Mind you i'm in Atlanta - there won't be many winter packets!
  • Begin incorporating snacks and desserts (snacks are much easier for me... desserts are going to be a while).
I think that's it for now! Let me know if you have any questions; clearly this is something I've gotten to be a bit passionate about so don't hesitate!

To cover today real quick, I worked, walked 4 miles during lunch, finished Intensity (review to come!), went home and hung out with Reuben (Austin had a work thing). Loves! I also made a mini menu for book club Friday - i'm so excited! Backing up, yesterday I ended up at 1,766 calories, 212 carbs, 64 fat grams and 83 protein grams. Here's what I ate. Today, I haven't finished eating yet!! So i'll post tomorrow! I'll also post my assessment tomorrow - I hope I have a more successful June than May! :)

26 comments:

hbobier @ Basil Vodka said...

Hi--thanks for stumbling over to my blog! I've added you to my reader...can't wait to learn more about you, chica!

Perhaps I can adapt some of your pre-cooking skills, but alas that's far too much planning for this gal.

Stacey said...

I love all the ready to go meals, must make things super easy to stay healthy.

Vegas Emily said...

You are such an inspiration!!! I'm liking the whole packet idea, especially with 5 mouths to feed - I made the Creamy, Bacon Ranch pasta a couple of weeks ago and it was a huge hit with everyone.

By the way - I love, love, love your book recommendations/reviews. I'm totally addicted to Karin Slaughter now and can't wait for the new one to come out at the end of this month (?)

M said...

Wow - this post really inspired me to redo my food storage and try to create my own healthy packets. I'm seeing a trip to Target in my future now...

Kelly, if you ever wrote a "health and organization" book I would buy it!
Mehnaz

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

Great idea here! I do the same thing, and in fact, am teaching a lady I'm helping how to do just what you described. I'm going to send her a link!

lee@In My Tummy said...

I still can't figure out how you do this. You are so organized!

Gabriela said...

Thanks for sharing all your info!! These are definitely some tips I'll have to keep in mind when I have a family of my own...it definitely makes eating a home-cooked meal every night way easier!

Kacy said...

Wow girl! That's truly inspiring. Maybe someday I'll be half that organized ;)

homecookedem said...

You are an inspiration!! Truly!! One day I really want to get as organized as you. I think once we have kids it would be a lifesaver!! Thank you so much for explaining how you got to where you are. I think you should put on workshops for people on how to pre-cook! ;) I'd sign up for it!!

Lisa (I'm an Okie) said...

This is fascinating. Thanks for linking back your old post too--I bookmarked it so I can go back and read it!

shannon (the daily balance) said...

you are such an inspiration - it's incredible! i LOVE this, thanks for posting your thoughts/practices on this!

The Blonde Duck said...

That's such a clever idea! I'm going to send it to my sister...

Fashion Meets Food said...

Girl you are absolutely awesome! I wish we had an extra freezer so that I could do this! It would make eating healthy so much easier!

xo

*Naomi* said...

DAMNNN girl! thats a whole lotta time saving right there :)

Kelly Olexa said...

O.M.G. I'm just in awe. I'm in awe of the pre-cooking. You are an animal! ;-)

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

Great blog! I just found you through Biz's challenge. I'll check back and read more later, thanks!

Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly said...

You are really organized! Love it!

biz319 said...

I love your ideas!! I may have to steal some of them!

Tami said...

Thanks for sharing your meal prep plans. I think it is so amazing and if you have a family one day it will be such a time saver for you!

I often double recipes and freeze the second one for future use and I prep chicken and other protein ahead of time so I can just defrost it for a time saver.

Dawn Dishes It Out said...

Having the precooking down is more than half the battle! You have it down pat!! I love how amazingly organized you are!! This is always one of the first things I teach my clients ... cook once, eat twice. You go girl!!

Lele said...

I am such a huge fan of your Pre-Cooking. And honestly I'm totally copying some of your ideas cause my schedule just got waaaaaaaay more hectic and it is BLISS to come home from work and have dinner MADE.

Kim said...

I seriously get exhausted just reading your posts sometimes, LOL. I wish I had half your energy, the pre-cooking is something I really want to start doing myself thanks so much for sharing, I love to cook but sometimes after a long day of working it's the last thing I want to think about when I get home. Having a meal already waiting in the fridge would be a blessing!

GetFit2010 said...

you are amazing!!!

GetFit2010 said...

you are amazing!!!

M said...

Wow - this post really inspired me to redo my food storage and try to create my own healthy packets. I'm seeing a trip to Target in my future now...

Kelly, if you ever wrote a "health and organization" book I would buy it!
Mehnaz

hbobier @ Basil Vodka said...

Hi--thanks for stumbling over to my blog! I've added you to my reader...can't wait to learn more about you, chica!

Perhaps I can adapt some of your pre-cooking skills, but alas that's far too much planning for this gal.