Life can get really hectic, from work commitments, running errands and personal tasks these can lead to us cooking less homemade meals and spending more money eating out or ordering in more. This can be fun for a while, especially eating at new places and trying different cuisines but the novelty tends to wear off very quickly.
Have you experienced that sensation where, whether you are eating Chinese takeout or Pizza it all starts tasting the same and you find yourself craving a good home-cooked meal, kind of how Mama used to make it?
That's basically your body begging you to make your own food, the only problem is that time is usually not on our side or perhaps you get home from a long day and you find yourself too exhausted to even want to step near a kitchen let alone switch on a stove.
Luckily there is a way that you can get your grub on without spending too much time in the kitchen, the secret to this is so simple and effective you will be kicking yourself when you realise. Simply put, to maximise the limited time you have when you get home from work, you have to MEAL PREP aka prepare your key ingredients in advance.
So how exactly does that work? Firstly you need to figure out what you would like to eat the upcoming week. What will be your menu for the week? What proteins do you want? What starches? What vegetables and fruits would you need?
Once you have decided this shop accordingly. So let's say you want some spaghetti bolognese, shepherd's pie, some fried rice and plantain and some chicken stew and rice for the upcoming week. You would buy some minced meat, rice, plantain, chicken and your choice of vegetables.
Once the groceries are bought you now have to choose which days you would like to eat what.
Monday - Spaghetti
Tuesday - Fried rice and plantain
Wednesday - Shepherd's pie
Thursday - Chicken Salad
Friday - Chicken Stew and rice
This is where the real work starts, dedicate about 2-4 hours on Saturday or Sunday for your meal prep cause this is the time you will spend doing all the things in your food preparation that you won't have time for in the week after work during a long work day. With your week's menu in mind start prepping.
For example you know most of your meals will need onions, so slice or dice about three onions and put them in a Ziplock bag or Tupperware container and store in the fridge, do this for all the vegetables you know you will need e.g. onions, spring onions, sweet pepper, potato, tomatoes etc.
When it comes to the protein such as chicken or fish you can grill, broil or fry in advance so you reduce time doing this during the week.
Red meat ideally should be cooked on the day so creating a marinade and letting the meat become tender till it's time to cook it is more ideal. Once all the elements in your menu have been diced, grilled or parboiled in advance, put them in containers and store in the fridge for the upcoming week.
Here is where the fun starts, let's say today is Monday you come back from work and see that you are making spaghetti. Since pasta is the easiest and quickest to make you put that in the water and let cook for 15 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, you get your already chopped onions, tomato, sweet peppers etc out and let saute in oil, next up is the minced meat, which you allow to brown before adding some tomato paste and seasoning.
By the time the pasta is done, your bolognese sauce is probably reducing and with another 5 minute will be ready for plating. So just like that, you made your dinner and probably lunch for the next day at work in the space of 20-25 minutes, allbecause you meal prepped.
It's important to remember that what takes up the most time when cooking quick homemade meals is not really the actual cooking, but the prepping. Soif you put in the time and effort on Sunday's to plan your food week ahead you have cut your time down by a half and you will probably end up healthier for it. Give it a try this week and see if meal prepping saves you time and money!
Guest Food Chronicles contributor is Nigerian food blogger Somie Iwuohawho currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa. She's also a Social Media Strategist and Content Manager at an ad agency in Cape Town. Her blog @eatwithloon is filled with incredible modern recipes and restaurant reviews. She loves cooking food and of course eating it. 😍