Please bear with me as I try to explain my thoughts here. I have been following a vegan diet for awhile now. I would like to transisition to more of a raw diet. In addition, I do a lot of juicing. My husband (while very supportive of me) still eats meat. He works extrememly hard to support our family and I like to have dinner waiting when he gets home. I try to incorporate things that I can eat into our dinners so that I don't have to cook two meals. However, I feel like all I am doing is washing produce, preppping it for juicing, chopping for salads, soaking, de-hydrating, etc. I enjoy cooking this way especially because I feel good when I eat this way. I have small children, home-school them, run a part-time business from home, etc. I find myself not eating the way I would like to because I run out of time. Since I am new to the raw food diet, I do more research to learn how to prepare different items, etc. I want to find many tasty items to help me to stick with it as well as to win my family over. I know there is a bit of a learning curve and I will get onto it. Do you have a schedule for meal planning and food prep? Do you wash and chop veggies and fruit in advance? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.
- topicVegantagged by System, 3/31/12
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Finding time for food prep-how do you fit it all in?
Im not a raw vegan but we do eat raw at every meal plus I still need to chop the veggies I cook and for the kids lunches.
At the grocery store I group all my produce together. So as soon as I get home I put everything else away and wash everything. So whatever comes in bags gets taken out and washed. Grapes get portioned in2 baggies(we reuse them!!!) for lunch as does cherry tomatoes. I peel and cut carrot sticks and celery sticks and keep them in water. I dice a huge container of garlic and onion since thats in all meals pretty much. I'll wash and break apart cauliflower and broccoli. I wash all peppers,cukes and greens.
I also leave everything that I use for rush times in bowls in the fridge(strawberries ect). When I chop veg for dinner I'll chop it for the kids lunches and bag it so in the morning I dont have to. If the kids are home for lunch I do dinner chopping with the lunch chopping. Saves alot of time
Here's my plan. I've been doing it for about 5 months now and it works great. Granted, my diet is neither raw nor vegan. I'll explain what I do and then you can probably modify it. It does take a little bit of consistent uninterrupted time, so it would be best if DH could watch your kids or you had a babysitter briefly that could take them to the park or something. Anyway here goes.
This is what I do every week.
1) Monday evening I make a menu list, compare what I already have, and write a grocery list for the remaining items.
2) Tuesday morning I go to the grocery store. It's not very crowded at that time. I keep like items together in my cart, and then I bag my own groceries when I check out. I put all of the freezer items in one bag and all the refrigerator items in the other bag.
3) When I get home I put the freezer items in the freezer (still keeping them in their bag) and the fridge items in the refrigerator (still keeping them in their bag). Everything else is left on the kitchen table until afterwards. This makes it very easy to find what I need.
4) Then I cook everything for the week all at one time. It makes a huge mess. I cut up fruit and veggies on one counter and the meats on another one with a separate knife. There's usually four pots on the stove, something in the Crock Pot, 1-2 things in the oven, and a giant mess of dishes.
5) I have glass Pyrex dishes that have plastic lids on them. These are the coolest kitchen item I have ever had. I love them! I put everything in these dishes.
6) Anything that we will be eating in the next 2 days gets put into the refrigerator after being cooked. Everything else cools temporarily on the counter and then goes in the freezer.
7) When it's time to eat, I just pull out one of the Pyrex dishes, take off the lid, and pop it in the cold oven. I turn the oven to 350 and cook it until warm.
I love this method so much! I always have something homemade and healthy ready for dinner, regardless of how busy the day has been. Since things are frozen for a week at the longest I've never had issues with things being freezer burnt. Heating things up on the stove or in the oven makes them taste just like they were made freshly (don't microwave unless you're really in a bind).
Plus, the kitchen is so much easier to keep clean during the week because I only have a few dishes and there isn't all the prep work to clean up.
I know it seems like it would take forever, but it really doesn't. The grocery list/menu usually takes me about 35 minutes to make (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on what I am in the mood for). Grocery shopping usually takes about 50 minutes including driving time. It takes me about 2 hours to make all of the meals for the week. It's an intense 2 hours, but it can be done! Then it takes another 30 minutes or so to clean up.
This method really has changed my life. I love it so much! Hopefully it helps you!
I'm not raw or veg*n either (though we don't eat much meat) but I do a lot of washing and chopping of veggies and I do try to bunch it.
We go to the farmer's market every Sunday as a family. I 'plan' the week's meals in my head based on what looks good at the market that day.
When we get home, I try to wash whatever will hold up well that way. Esp fresh salad greens/herbs (cilantro etc) get washed, spun dry, and stored in Pyrex with a folded paper towel inside. They keep fresh for literally weeks that way and are ready to use when needed. Green beans/peas I will wash and store in a closed container in the fridge (won't string or chop till ready to use bc they dry out, but it still saves a lot of time).
Another method I have used in the past is to prep dinner in little bits all day long. Like chop a vegetable every time you have 5-10 min in the kitchen, store in bowls in the fridge, then throw it all together in the pan when dinnertime rolls around. Works well when you are home all day with a demanding infant and only get short bursts of time when baby is fed/clean/entertained.
I just got back into raw, and I'm LOVING how easy it is! Of course, I'm not into raw "cooking," aka dehydrating, soaking, sprouting, etc.That stuff definitely takes time. I just eat real whole food. Fruits, vegetables, and greens. I do a lot of mono meals (eating one fruit for a meal-like 9 bananas or 6 mangos or something). And I make a lot of smoothies. Check out 30bananasaday.com. It has a great raw food forum.
I'm a homeschooling mama too, and I run a home business making wooden toys. I'm single too. So I've had a lot of practice saving time cooking (I've been all raw for 3.5 weeks, but before that was vegan-cooked), and I still cook for my son.
If you want to save time on preparation (whether raw or cooking) and eating, think simple meals. Also for cooking, the freezer is a huge help! Freeze whole wheat muffins and homemade bread (pre-sliced) and waffles and pancakes, and you have handy snacks, just pop them in the toaster oven. If you are cooking meat for someone else. Cook a whole ton of chicken and rice to freeze, and half the meal can be already done. Cook a bunch of ground beef for the freezer. Make french fries (cut up strips of potatoes). Make 2 lasagnas or casseroles and put one in the freezer. You can also make up individual lasagnas in those mini bread pans for lunches and stuff. Freeze soup ahead.
The raw food is great not just as a time saver, but now I have so much more energy! I can run for 30 minutes straight and not get winded at all (as opposed to only being able to run for 5 minutes without stopping to walk for 2 minutes before I went raw).
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