The Plan to Eat Podcast

#24: Tips for Saving Time in the Kitchen and Meal Prep

July 20, 2022 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 24
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#24: Tips for Saving Time in the Kitchen and Meal Prep
Show Notes Transcript

Join us for this episode on saving time in the kitchen and tips for meal prepping. Saving time is often about planning ahead, which mean you’re doing your future self a favor! Some of these tips are for super quick and efficient meals with little prep and others will simply help you make meal prepping simpler. We hope you enjoy!

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[00:00:00] 

I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.

Roni: Hello. Welcome to another episode of the Plan to Eat podcast! Today we are doing an episode that was based off of a listener request. Uh, we are going to be talk talking about saving time in the kitchen meal prep. Just general ways to save time when you're doing your meal, planning, your meal, prep, your cooking, all those things, right?

Riley: Yes, it's totally, it's that idea of doing something that your future self will thank you for

Roni: Yes.

Riley: Um, because most of the things that we're gonna talk about today probably have a little bit of effort included, but when you do. Matters. And it really sets you up for success. Like later in your week, later in your month, however you do your meal planning.

Roni: I have the exact same thing written down in my notes is that you're doing your future self a favor by doing these things. Some of the tips that we give are gonna be really quick [00:01:00] and efficient. Other things are gonna be like, do this ahead of time so that you don't have to do it later. Like not every tip that we're gonna talk about is gonna actually be like, it's gonna take you less time if you do it this way, it's just. We know this thing kind of takes some time. So do it ahead.

Riley: Yep. Yeah, absolutely.

Roni: And I, I think it kind of also depends on what you want your end result to be. You know, like some of the things that I wanna talk about today are like, you can do, you can. Create amazing meals every single week and not everything has to be homemade, but if you're somebody who likes to make everything homemade, you can also just make homemade easier by doing some things ahead of time.

And, you know, like batch preparing things, um, or just like getting some of the steps of the process done earlier. So like, it kind of is like, what do you want to be your end result? If you want it to just be that, like, we have a meal on the table every night and I no longer have to stress about it. It doesn't matter if it's all homemade or not.

That's awesome. We can totally do. Or if you wanna go the route of, I really like having things that are homemade or I really like to cook, but [00:02:00] sometimes it's too much of a burden in the rest of my week. Well, then we can also talk about how you can get that done ahead of time. So multiple ways to think about it,

Riley: Yeah, absolutely. And I think so for my list, Roni and I are coming to this with two different lists of ideas. Um, so like from my end, I just wanna mention that I do not expect anyone to do all of the things that we're gonna talk about today. This is more of a general helpful tips that you can consider to save time and do some meal prep. If you did all of these things, that would be intense.

Roni: Yeah, I, yeah, I, I was gonna say, I think that starting small is the most important piece because if you start incorporating a lot of things, particularly when it comes to. Preparing food ahead of time. If you just like go big all of a sudden, but you're, you're not really in the groove of it. Like it can end up that you're like wasting food, which is totally not the point.

You know, like, though it's important to smart start small and do things like leftovers or whatever. If you're not used to this, like prep ahead, style of [00:03:00] cooking, all love, cooking.

Riley: I mean, we've talked about this on the show before, but it's more about making simple changes that you can actually do. And then once those become a habit, Then you can add another one. Um, we're yeah. We're fully not expecting you to just bite off more than you can chew that for me, usually ends in disaster and it's not a habit I can keep up with.

Yeah, so definitely I think it was Katie Kimball. We talked to who was just so kind in that way of like, no, just do one thing, try it out, fit it into your life. Make until that's easy. Don't add anything else.

Roni: yeah, exactly. I would say my very first tip for planning ahead is. Make a meal plan, shocker

Riley: Yeah.

Roni: uh, if you're not already on that step of the process, that's definitely the first place to start. Uh, you can't really, in my opinion, you can't really successfully meal prep, without having a meal plan ahead of time so that you can, because there's just like essential aspects of like coordinating your recipes so that they have similar ingredients and buying all of the things at the [00:04:00] grocery stores so that you can actually prep the things ahead of.

Riley: Yeah, well, and just the saving time conversation. The wheels really fall off my week when I haven't meal planned very well. And then what, I'm making five trips to the grocery store. That that's adding time taking away time from my life that I didn't have to begin with. Um, so yeah, so totally starting with a meal plan is super helpful.

There's so many ways that you can go about this, and whatever it is that makes sense for you. I meal plan once a week and grocery shop once a week. um, and then I do it again the next week and it's just very habitual, you know, it's like every Sunday, sometimes it's Monday, I just do it again. But I think that, so within that I had the ideas of like you could meal plan for a whole month, at one time, just sit down and just plan out.

Then that part of the work is done. And then all you have to do is maybe grocery shop weekly. You could even do grocery pickup, which saves you even more time. Um, and just have it scheduled to pick up once a week or go, go shopping once a week to really make that [00:05:00] easier.

Roni: Yeah. And I think particularly if you're somebody who, uh, likes to shop at a place like Costco or something, and you like to buy things in bulk, uh, planning ahead for the entire month is kind of a no brainer because then you could go to Costco once at the beginning of the month, buy all of your like dry goods and all of the things that are that you don't have a.

You know, soon expiration date, um, get all of that shopping out of the way. And then you can just have a regular, weekly shopping list for your, you know, fresh produce or extra meat or, you know, that kind of stuff. I think that would be a really great idea for saving time.

Riley: absolutely. And since the Plan to Eat shopping list, compiles ingredients for whatever date range you're working with, it's really an opportunity to make a grocery list for the entire month select what you wanna buy. At your bulk store, Costco, Sams, whatever it is that you shop at and then move it to that store.

And then, then it's all consolidated. So it's off your regular list. It's in its own store on your shopping list. Um, and then you buy just those ingredients.

Roni: yeah,

Riley: And I think that just tagging onto this idea of the [00:06:00] shopping list. Shopping at home really saves me a ton of time because if I'm looking at a list of a hundred ingredients, um, and then I go through and I take off all the things I already have, you know, lemon juice, , you know, hot sauce, whatever, you know, flour, salt, sugar, anything that I already have at home.

I'm taking my list from a hundred items to like maybe 50, you know, usually it's pretty substantial. What I already have at home. Especially with when you get into like seasonings and spices and things like that. And it really, that will save you a ton of time at the store too, because you're not, you know, you're not buying a hundred things, you're buying less than that.

And you can, you can get 50 items pretty, pretty quickly.

Roni: Well, yeah. And if you've already done the work of, of going through your own cupboards and your fridge and everything at home, you're not then standing in the grocery store going, mm, do we need this? I don't remember if we have vinegar or not, you know,

Riley: yeah, yeah, absolutely.

So I have a couple of like time saving ideas that I have genuinely implemented into my flow [00:07:00] of meal planning and shopping and cooking. Um, that also kind of, uh, cross over the meal prep line. I, I think meal PL meal prepping does save time. It personally does that for me, I'm a big proponent of double batches of things.

um, that's a huge one. And I know Roni, you're smiling. Nobody can see you, but me and you're smiling cuz you had it on your list too. Um, I'm a huge fan. I mean, so often I make a double batch of something. And either it gets eaten for lunches or it gets eaten for dinner another night in the week. And this is that idea of like, I already did the work it's ready for me.

We probably liked it the first time. I don't mind eating something twice in one week. I, I know that some people struggle with that. And if you struggle with it, if it's freezable freeze it and then it could be two weeks later that you eat it. One thing I'll say about, I have like several of my nieces, they will meal prep for the whole week and then just preport it out into their own individual containers, which is just that one extra step when you cook [00:08:00] it so that when you are getting ready for work in the morning, you just pull out.

Okay. I have pre-portioned this, I know I'm having it for lunch this week and you just take it and go so highly recommend, like Stasher bags or like, you know, like glass container, something like that, so that you can like put your food in like one little container and then just take it and go. I mean, maybe you even put it in a little lunch bag, so it's just like so easy.

I don't know, but I highly recommend that and it really works pretty well,

Roni: Yeah. I had a note on, in here as well to talk about having storage containers on hand because, uh, I don't think the thing is, is that, uh, I know that not everybody enjoys leftovers and I enjoy leftovers to an, a certain extent, you know, I've definitely made meals that. It honestly makes enough food for like almost an entire week of dinners.

And like, by the time I've had a meal three times, I'm, I'm kind of over it. So, uh, I would definitely say that if you're somebody who does not enjoy leftovers, it doesn't mean that meal prepping isn't right for you. But there are probably some, uh, methods you should take with the meal prep, uh, that [00:09:00] allow you to have some variety in your food.

So like, one of the things that I was thinking about related to this is like pick simple ingredients that you can just like mix and match together. So. You make a protein, you make a roasted veggie, you make a grain and you figure out how you can make those into different recipes. Like you have those basic ingredients.

Like you can make a caserole one night, you can make burritos another night. Like it doesn't have to be that you're just eating a protein and a vegetable and a grain just like in a circle on your plate. Um, it, I mean, it can be that one of the nights and that that's how it can be different. You know, one of the, I don't know that we've talked about them here on the podcast before, but, it definitely in a YouTube video, we talked about, um, cook once eat all week and, um, that's by website's called fit and fed.

And the lady who runs that his name's Casey. And she, her idea is like you take three simple ingredients, like shreded pork potatoes and cabbage, and then you assemble them into three separate meals so that you have leftovers quote, unquote, but it's not the exact same recipe every single time that [00:10:00] you're eating it.

So I just think that's a really important distinction here is that like, you might be somebody who's like meal prep isn't for me, because I don't like leftovers, but it doesn't have to be what we typically think of as leftover.

Riley: Yeah, I, uh, so one of my favorite things to take, a family who may be, you know, like grieving the loss of a loved one, or maybe they just had a baby, um, is like a fajita bowl, like a basically Chipotle, just like. Individual contain basically I'm Chipotle. Okay. I just take you homemade Chipotle. And so using that idea for your own house of like, you can make this, whatever you want, like it could be a burrito, it could be a bowl.

It could be a quesadilla. Like you, you could throw it in a pita. I think that was, um, joy Manning. One of her ideas is just like throw it all in a pita with some sauce. I'm like, if that's yummy. Um, so that idea of just like, you've got all these individual ingredients that you can mix and match it's flavors you like.

Um, I love that. And it's something that I had on my list too. Cause my recommendation was to use like an instant putter or crockpot to. Quinoa rice beans. Like [00:11:00] one of those things, I, I don't love rice leftover as much as quinoa quinoa holds up. So well, it's also really good cold, so you don't even have to reheat it.

Um, that's something that you can use as a base for a, whatever. Any of those things we just mentioned. Another thing is if you have a smoker or a grill, like. I will grill like triple the chicken that we need or triple the amount of whatever that we need or that we're gonna eat for one meal. And then I can use it on sandwiches or I could use it and chop it up and put in a salad, like make a chicken salad with smoke chicken.

You can take like you did all that work to smoke it that one time. And then it's super easy to like, put it with your quinoa, put it with your beans, like whatever. But just like mix and match that idea of continuing to mix and match. But. Um, the saving time idea of you cooked all the chicken, the thing that takes the longest, or you cooked all the quinoa, cuz that takes forever um, you did that, whatever Sunday, and then it's ready the whole week for you to utilize.

Roni: Yeah. Well, and I love that idea [00:12:00] as well. Is that like you're using a crockpot, you're using a smoker. Like those two appliances allow you to have like, it's cooking time, but it's cooking. It's like not active cooking time. It's passive cooking time. So like you do the like, quote unquote, set it and forget it thing where you just like set a timer or, you know, like some crockpots are able to just like automatically turn off whenever they're finished.

Like you're able to go that route. And so it's like, you can be doing other things around your house. Like if Sunday is your day to like do chores and meal prep. Cool. Your meal prep is happening while you're doing your chores.

Riley: It's the working smarter, not harder idea. It it's it's that it's like, what can I do? What can be done for me? That's still helpful. It's still homemade. But it's so easy and, and something else is doing the work for you. I think that's why people are really drawn to things like the crockpot smoker, the instant pot, um, shoot, even like a air fryer.

I think that's why people are drawn to those kinds of kitchen gadgets, because they're pretty hands off. You, you put it in there and then, you know, eight hours [00:13:00] later, my crockpots like, here's your yummy dinner? Like as if I have a personal chef oh, that's me. That's I'm the personal chef.

Roni: Yeah, no, I love that idea. I think that's great. I, I, I also wanted to mention just like in general, if you're trying to save time, as far as dinner goes, it's important to look at, um, the cook time of recipes. Um, and, but, but this, with this distinction of active versus passive cook time, because you could have a recipe, like you're like, okay, this recipe only takes 45 minutes to make not a big deal, but if you are actively like sitting there stirring the thing for 45 minutes, like you're making your Rozo or whatever, and stirring it the whole time, like that's 45 minutes that you could potentially be doing something else.

Whereas if you had a recipe that was just like, I'm gonna slide this caserole into the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes and then we're eating that's way easier. I do think it's one of those things where it's like, it is a little upfront work to like, make sure you understand the recipe that you're preparing or the recipe that you're adding to your meal plan.

But I think it really [00:14:00] like serves you in the long run to think about this idea, this difference of active and passive cooking and what you really have time for in a day to day basis.

Riley: Absolutely. I think that, you know, the thing that's coming to mind while you're talking about is like sourdough bread. You know, you have to feed your starter. That takes like five minutes a day. But if somebody gives you a healthy starter, you could make a loaf of bread. I mean, it's that like you, like, it may take like five minutes to mix up the like dough you throw in the oven for like what an hour or something.

And then you have this amazing loaf of bread, but your active time was five minutes.

Roni: right. Yeah.

Riley: Roughly. I mean, I was so shocked when I like went down my sourdough bread route and just like, this is so delicious and it really isn't that much work, but it feel, it sounds like something that's a lot of work. Um, so I love the reminder to look at your recipes and see how much work you actually have to do versus what you think you have to do.

Roni: yeah.

Well, and in relation to that, like, there are some sourdough recipes that are like, do the stretches in the folds for 15 minutes and all that [00:15:00] stuff. But, you know, so it's like, if you think you're getting an easy sourdough recipe, make sure it's actually the easy one, because there are other ones that are way more involved and it's like, that's great.

If you wanna like spend the time and make your super special artisan sourdough, I've definitely done that. I really enjoy that. But if you're just trying to get a loaf of bread for the. Switch to the easier recipe.

Riley: I just think there's a time and a place, right? Like we're talking about saving time right now. We're not on the Artis in bread road. Like I, I told there are times in my life when I want to fidget and fi like, you know, fiddle around with my sour, my special sourdough or whatever. Um, or like make some really fancy, I don't know.

I don't know, like homemade croissants or something. Like there's a time for that. And like, a lot of my weeks, like lately are there's are not the, it's just not the, the space of life I'm in. Um, and so, yeah, so we're here for the saving time. You're right. Like there's a time and there's a time for the artisan bread.

So just keep an eye on your recipes. I don't know, you know, like I definitely [00:16:00] do like a BA like batches of chicken, batches of quinoa. And another thing I do is. Like I'll double taco. Like if we're having to like ground beef tacos or some burritos or something, I'll double that sometimes. And, um, that's actually an ingredient I really like in a variety of recipes cuz that taco like those seasonings, like it makes a really great omelet.

You could also throw that into a quiche and make like a, you know, like. Mexican quiche, like with this like taco meat, or even like a, like a spiced quinoa or something would make a great base for a breakfast caserole so get really creative with the way you're utilizing the ingredient that you're making in bulk.

And you'll probably get less bored with it.

Roni: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think that's a good distinction to make too is, uh, like using sometimes I think, I personally get really hung up with breakfast foods, being breakfast foods. Granted, I love breakfast for dinner, but that's still like I'm using what I think of as quote unquote, strictly breakfast foods, you know?

But like I know lots of people who are like, they eat all sorts of things for [00:17:00] breakfast, you know, like they eat, I have a friend who eats T. She eats tuna salad for breakfast and she loves it. And so it's like, there's just, you can just reimagine the way that, that we typically think of, you know, like this is a food that is a dinner food, like ground beef or quinoa or something that you wouldn't normally put in something that's related to breakfast, but there's so many options to still make.

I mean, and also you can still make it like a breakfast food, like you're saying you could make like the, some type of like a quiche or frittata or something like that. That just, it's not, you know, maybe it's not bacon, but it's ground beef instead, 

Riley: like a breakfast, like, okay. I know earlier I joked that I am Chipotle and now I'm laughing cuz I'm like continuing down this road. But um, like taking some quinoa, maybe, maybe you have some cooked bacon. Maybe you don't have any pro like meat source at all. Put some fried eggs on top and some hot sauce.

Like to me that sounds like maybe some arugula, like that sounds like a great little breakfast.

Roni: Yeah, absolutely saute some Swiss chard or something.

Riley: Oh yeah. [00:18:00] Yeah. And that's so easy. If you know, all you do is fry some eggs. It's like a five minute breakfast. 

Roni: I just have a couple more quick tips for like time saving for dinner. Also similar related a meal prep and the fact that it's not. Not really meal prep. You know, but like using, uh, frozen vegetables for a lot of like your root vegetables, like potatoes or brussel sprouts or whatever, like things that are just gonna get put in the oven anyways to get roasted.

You can buy 'em frozen and they're already chopped up. So like, you're kind of like saving a couple steps in that process by not having to chop them up yourself. And they just already come in like a quantity. That's perfect for like a lot of recipes. And then another thought that I had was just like, you can like buy spice mixes, you know, like if you're making tacos, just buy the packet of taco seasoning instead of buying the like seven containers of, uh, you know, all your like cumin and onion powder and all of those things now.

I understand there might be a reason for buying individual spices. Maybe you don't like the caking agents or things like that, that can come in [00:19:00] the taco seasoning. But in that case, like buy those things. And then in your meal, prepping process, just like put all of those, put all of 'em in a Mason jar or something together to make your own taco seasoning.

So that way, the night of when you're making tacos, you just get a, put a tablespoon of your pre-made taco seasoning in, instead of fidling around with all the different spices. I don't know, it's a small time saving thing, but I do think that it's something that can make a difference as far as like the stress of your meal

Riley: yeah. I think that, I think the semi-homemade aspects of, of doing things to save yourself time. You know, like we said, like there's a season for everything. Like you might be the person who just like lives for the, everything being homemade. And, um, maybe you make your own homemade yogurt. Maybe you're making your own bone broth or meat stock, or, maybe you're doing all of your own spice mixes, like.

That's amazing. And it certainly would save you time if you have a day where you can do all of those kinds of things. But this idea of just like, just giving yourself a little bit of permission to like buy the thing that is [00:20:00] pre-mixed or pre-made, just to supplement, to save a little bit of time for yourself, like give yourself permission and do it.

I mean, I, I, my mom used to watch this show on the food network and I think it was actually called semi homemade 

Roni: Yes. With, with Sandra Lee.

Riley: Sandra. Yeah. Um, and just, she just made things like that were really delicious, that she made with like maybe a jar of marinara. Maybe she made chicken Parmesan with a jar of marinara but it saves you, I dunno, 45 minutes of making your own homemade sauce. I think that there are weeks for that and you're still making your family a nourishing meal. Um, just choose the, choose the best homemade, choose the best premade ingredients that you can and just give yourself some grace.

Roni: Yeah. So I actually took some notes on some things that are. Well, I took a note, the notes as things to avoid for making semi-homemade meals. But I'll just say these are things that you can buy as already semi-homemade that are gonna save you the most time. So like buy baked goods at the [00:21:00] grocery store.

Like, I, I know we just talked about how like, bread can be super easy to make it home, but like, if you're really going for this idea of like semi homemade, They make those really yummy loaves of bread that are just like you take 'em. I don't, there's a, probably a specific name for it. It's like a take and bake kind of a thing where it's like, you know, you just put 'em in the oven for like eight minutes and you basically are just like heating it up and getting the crust crispy.

So like, Do something like that. It's like literally eight minutes in the evidence. Like no time at all, um, buy sauces, like you said, marinara sauce, buy your enchilada sauce, while it can be really great and really delicious to make those things homemade. If you don't have the time for it, don't stress about it and just buy it at the grocery store.

One thing that I actually also found when I was doing a little bit of research for this, that people recommended to, when you're doing something like leftovers or. Um, like this, like prep ahead idea. One thing to avoid is expensive cuts of meat, which at first I was a little interested in, but the more that I read about the more that it makes sense, because if you're buying an expensive cut of meat, [00:22:00] usually you want to prepare it to like the exact right temperature that you wanna eat it at.

And so, and you wanna enjoy it right away. And so it's not really something that's great as leftovers for that reason. It obviously could work. Like you could have your ribeye the next day and it can still be delicious, but more than likely, uh, you want to choose maybe like less expensive cuts of meat.

And sometimes they require a little more work. Like sometimes you need to marinate those and stuff instead to make them really yummy. just a little tip that I would thought I would throw out there cuz it's on my list.

Riley: no, that's great. That's super helpful.

Roni: And then on the flip side of things, I wanted to talk about easy things to prepare ahead. We've kind of like we've, we haven't, we've delved into this a little bit and talked about some of the things like the, um, the smoker things and the crockpot things, but I just wanted to give some, actual ingredients that I think are things that people could think about that to prep ahead.

So.

Riley: have a list of these too, so I bet they'll cross over a

lot. 

Roni: So I have things like boiled eggs, like, you know, boil your eggs on Sunday. Boy, you could boil, you could boil a whole dozen of eggs. If you're somebody who likes [00:23:00] hard boiled eggs or soft boiled eggs, like you can do that ahead of time. Um, chop vegetables and fruit. You know, you can do this both for snacks.

For easy snacks that are easy to grab, but also for recipes. So like if every single recipe that you're having in the week has a chopped onion in it, just chop five onions and put 'em in a topware container. um, you can cook things like beans and legumes. Obviously you can cook grains and most grains will actually freeze really well.

So you could cook a batch of grains on like you cook a batch of rice on Sunday. And maybe you're using it in your recipes both on Monday and on Friday. Well, you could cook the, or you could freeze the second half that you've cooked. So that way you don't have to go through the process of cooking it again.

And then when you go to reheat it, particularly with rice, just like add a little bit of water into it, it'll help like fluff it back up as you reheat it. You can prepare salad greens. Uh, really easily or just like any vegetables that you would go would go into a salad. And then similar to what you said, you can do things like pulled pork or pulled chicken or smoked [00:24:00] pork, smoked chicken, that kind of stuff.

Hmm.

Riley: with mine. Um, So recently, I, I followed this, um, this girl on Instagram and I, I wish I could remember her name. It just came to mind that I wanted to share this, but she taught people how to wash their fruit like differently. Um, so basically it was like cold water with a table, spin of salt, and you put all your berries in and kind of stir it all together.

And then you let it sit for five minutes and then you rinse them off and then you let 'em dry. And the fruit I had, like blueberries, blackberries, strawberries. Uh, I think that was all I had that week. Um, I was amazed, like my fruit lasted the entire, like there was no mold, there was nothing that got gross.

Like it was perfect fruit, for like seven to 10 days in my fridge. And like, cuz we didn't eat at all in the beginning of the week. But just that idea of like. Cutting your fruit up or washing it and cutting it. So it is ready to be consumed. Like I have a kid and so like, [00:25:00] that's a great snack for her so much less work for me cuz I can just pull it out.

Or maybe I had a yogurt, a bowl of yogurt with some granola and tons of fruit on it. It's like, all I did is already ready for me. I just put all that in a bowl. And then again with fruit I had. I have done this before. And I know it's something that my mom does is just pre-portioned smoothies. So take your frozen strawberries and blueberries and blackberries and mango and pineapple.

And maybe you've got spinach. Maybe you put a taste tablespoon of chia seeds or, whatever it is, like all the things that you can just put in a little bag, and storing your freezer. So it's all frozen perfect for a smoothie. Then you just dump it in your blender with almond milk or coconut milk or whatever your, you know, liquid part is.

And it's perfect. And it's pre-portioned, and that saves a ton of time. I actually had a smoothie today before we recorded this podcast and I had to get all of those things out. Like all of my, like different things out of the freezer, um, had some pre chopped fruit in the freezer, but it wasn't pre-portioned.

And I had like seven bags on the counter. I had so much to clean up. Like [00:26:00] that's actually something we haven't even talked about is just like. Doing a little bit of work. Like this actually saves you time in the cleanup, because if all I had to do was dump my smoothie in my blender and blend up, I wouldn't have had anything to put away so it was like the five minutes of smoothie, plus the five minutes of cleaning up or whatever.

Um, and it's, you know, like that doesn't sound like a lot, but when you accumulate those kinds of things all day, it certainly adds up.

Roni: I kind of wanna go back to this washer, strawberry wash your fruit and, uh, salt water thing. I was just doing some Googling about it because I was curious about that. Uh, obviously the salt is a. Anti pesticidal I guess, you know, so like, if there is any, uh, bugs or anything in your fruit, it would help wash them off.

But I'm also curious, and I'm not really finding any information on this, but I'm also curious if salt water would help your fruit retain their moisture. You know, cuz like salt in your body helps you retain water.

Riley: I don't 

Roni: salt does like, is washing it in the salt, [00:27:00] like helping the vegetables also retain their water, which is the thing that makes them plump. And 

Riley: That's a great question. I, it was one of those things I stumbled upon on Instagram and I was like, that sounds interesting. And like, I'm gonna try this method. I mean, she did, it did, it was a Reel, um, and she, like, she showed all the dirt in the bottom of her bowl. That came off of her vegetables or her fruit.

And I was like, it was compelling to me, you know, and I just looked her up. It's Rachel Mansfield. Um, maybe we can link to that post in our show notes. Um, but maybe we can reach out to her.

Roni: Okay. You were talking about dishes clean. Do you wanna go in more into that or.

Riley: I don't have notes about cleaning. It just occurred to me. yeah, actually, you know, let's just talk about cleaning for a second. I personally really hate to clean up after I cook. I think somebody asked me recently, like what my least favorite, like house chore is. And I'd said cleaning my stove because my stove is one of those stoves where I cook one time and it looks like I cooked 80 times.

Like , maybe I'm just a messy cook. I don't know. But it like, [00:28:00] whatever the material it's made out of, it just looks. It just gets sturdy really fast and it's really frustrating. But just in general, cleaning up the kitchen, particularly at the end of a long day is exhausting. Um, so I mean, I think that I don't have a ton of tips around this because if I did, I would implement all of them into my life.

but I think like the idea of smoking or grilling chicken, like that is on your grill, that is so much easier to clean. It didn't require a pan that's like maybe popping oil or something like that when you're cooking it. Um, that's a very clean way to cook it's out on your grill. You know, like one pot meals or sheet pan meals where maybe you had a cutting board, a knife and then a pan, um, like that's amazing.

I, I don't know what else do you, can you think of anything that would like save you

Roni: I'm just thinking of this idea of like meal prepping and like getting the, the bulk of the dishes out of the way on your meal prep day. And particularly if you have a family that you're trying to like help get involved in the kitchen and stuff like doing the dishes can be something [00:29:00] that maybe your family helps do.

You know, like if they're also helping you cook, it's all it can it's you. It's a good learning process to be like, you know, when you cook, there's the dishes to get cleaned up afterwards, you know? And like, this is how we help in the process of the kitchen in general. And like, for some kids too, like doing the dishes could actually be really fun, you know, like playing yeah.

Playing in the water and whatever. Like they might not actually get that clean, but you know, they can play in the water a little bit before the dishes go in the dishwasher or something. but, um, yeah, I don't know. I was just kind of thinking of saving yourself a little bit of time by just like, it's all gonna happen on one day and it's gonna be kind of a mess on that one day.

There might be a lot of dishes on that one day, but hopefully you're saving yourself for the rest of the week that like, the things that you have to do are just like, you know, rinsing out your Tupperware containers and putting 'em in the dishwasher, or, you know, like very minimal, like maybe you're cleaning up one skillet that you had to heat things up in or something like.

Riley: Yeah, that's a great, that's great. Um, I think it's why I really love it's one of the reasons I love freezer meals or like batch [00:30:00] cooking days where you do spend a substantial amount of time. cooking things. Um, and you do have a lot to clean up, but it's again, it's again, it's I'm doing this. So my future itself will be freer, you know, like, cause if you allot, you know, I think we talked about this with a recent, gal we interviewed on a, on the podcast, just the freezer cooking, Like we, I did it for, we did a big freezer cooking day for a friend who was having a baby a couple of years ago.

We all got together. We all brought ingredients for a certain meal. We all cooked together. Then we all cleaned up together. And then we just left all the meals with our friend who was having the baby. Those days are exhausting. like, it's a lot of work, you know, it's like a lot of cooking, a lot of cleanup.

You know, like even like storing all the food and making sure everything's labeled appropriately and stored in a way that it won't spill before it freezes in your freezer, all of those kinds of things. But the reward is very great. Um, so I think it's like, if you can recognize that the reward for the work you do up front is so great and so helpful to you that it will make it worth it.

Roni: [00:31:00] I'm really glad you brought up freezer meals because I, I was something that I wanted to talk about in relation to this whole idea. And even this, even this idea of like you have a day where you prep a bunch of freezer meals ahead of time, I think is so genius, particularly. I mean, I know you said you talked about it in relation to like, one of your friends is having a baby.

You guys all did to help her out, which is so amazing. I also think that you could just do it for yourself. Like it. Number one, if you know, you have a busy season in your life coming up, like say you just know that there's this big project with work coming up and you're, you're gonna be at work later every single night.

And you're not gonna have as much time to cook food. Definitely take some time to prepare some freezer meals so that you can just pull things out. They can defrost during the day and you can pop 'em in the oven when you get home. Or this could even be an idea of like, if your in-laws are coming into town for like two weeks and you just don't wanna have to cook meals for 12 people every single night, you know, like you could, you could do yourself a favor and prep some things ahead of time.

So that it's a little less work in [00:32:00] the moment. Or like, you know, if it is family, then it's like, then you're able to spend more time with your family and less time. Away in the kitchen while everybody was outside

Riley: Yeah, no, that's a. I before my daughter was born, I did, I had a baby in the middle of a pandemic. Um, and so I did not have a batch cooking day with all my friends. But I did it for myself and the more I did it. The more, I was kind of like, I hate I, this is a bit dramatic, but like, I was a bit addicted to it.

Like, okay, I'm gonna make, you know, seven lasagnas . And so, you know, just me and my husband and a newborn. So like we didn't need, you know, we weren't trying to serve 12 people. So I. I portioned out all those Las I made like eight lasagnas because I made these tiny little, like two, maybe two and a half servings of lasagna.

Um, that fed us for, I mean, I didn't only make lasagna, but that was one of the many things I cooked for us. And it became like the more I did it, I realized how much easier it is. It does. It can feel like [00:33:00] any task can feel daunting when you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Um, But the more I did it, the easier it was.

And even one time we did have family come into town. And so I made a big batch of like a breakfast caserole and a couple of dinners when we had family coming into town. So that then I could just throw 'em in the oven and it was kind of like, I know how easy this is. Like, I'm gonna save myself so much time when they're here.

Um, and it's already made, and I didn't have to like, you know, like, Spend so much time in the kitchen, making something at breakfast, you know, seven 30 in the morning and you're having to make breakfast for 12 people. It can be overwhelming, but a big breakfast casserole freezes beautifully. Um, and it cooks great.

I mean, like they're perfect. I've done it so many times. So yeah, so that idea of just like anything you do when you start doing it, it gets easier. So I would recommend that people just start trying it if they've never done it before.

Roni: I agree. And, uh, some recipes that I think free as well are lasagna. Definitely top of the list, uh, soups and chilis can all out freeze really well and just like put 'em in like a Ziploc bag

Riley: Yeah, one thing, one thing I'll say about [00:34:00] soups is, um, in my freezer meal experience. Sometimes the noodles I'm I'm gluten-free so I use gluten-free noodles and sometimes the noodles get strange. But if you're heating up the broth part of it and like maybe the vegetables or the protein or whatever, you can just ease the, like, if it's bubbl, you know, it's boiling just throwing your noodles at the last second.

So like, yeah. I didn't, I didn't mean to interrupt you from your list. I just wanted to make that note. Sometimes things can get strange

Roni: no, that's a really good idea. Yeah. Uh, and well, and what it takes like 12 minutes for the noodles to cook through. So it's like still a really simple dinner, you know?

Riley: And it happens without you doing anything except for putting 'em in the bowl. So like it's not that much added

Roni: Exactly. Yeah. And then honestly, some things that like, like hamburgers and meatballs freeze super well. Uh, you mentioned smoothie kits earlier, you know, like you can freeze tons of smoothie.

Uh, you can freeze muffins. You can freeze enchiladas. Usually when I freeze enchiladas, I don't put the sauce on when I freeze 'em I put the sauce on afterwards. Um, and then like most casserole, like you're saying, like you can freeze most caserole really easily. [00:35:00] I guess, once again, if it it's a casserole that has noodles, the noodles might, you might have to play that, you know, might have to see which casseroles do better than others might maybe make a smaller batch and see how well it freezes, but, so many options for things that you can freeze.

Riley: Another thing, uh, is sauces for you super well. So if you do make something. I don't know, like maybe you make a homemade marinara or Boase or something like those freeze really well. And it's, it's not maybe saving you a ton of time cuz you still need to come up with sides and you know, noodles or PO whatever you serve it with. But it does save you like if, if something you batch cook and it's like a huge pot of it, freeze it. And then it's just a real quick add to whatever it is you're making and it saves you time on the back end.

Roni: well, it's like that idea of like, if you love homemade sauce and you're like, I, I can't justify buying it because I make the best. I have the best recipe, like, well then just save yourself time and do a whole big batch ahead of it ahead of yourself. 

Riley: Have a couple of things that don't, haven't fit in our conversation [00:36:00] so far. Um, one of those things is Roni and I did an episode about organizing your food storage. And let me just say that ever since I organized my food closets and pantries, and saves me a ton of. It saves me so much time to open my pantry and be like, oh, I've got that.

I didn't have to dig for it. Um, or it's also really helpful in the meal planning process. Cuz I can go first and see what I've got and plan around those things. Oh, I need to use this up or, oh, I've got that. And I'm gonna, you know, oh, I'm gonna, I've got Ench lot of sauce and that sounds delightful.

Like it's kind of inspiring to my meal plan. It, but it, but it being organized. Again, this is one of those things took quite a bit of time, um, because my pantry was not organized. Okay. It took quite a bit of time, but now that it's done, I'm so grateful that it's done and it, it, it, it eases a burden for me that I didn't really know was a burden.

I'm not having to dig through canned [00:37:00] goods to find the canned good. I need, I know exactly where my coconut milk lives, because I put it in a specific spot with all the coconut milk . Um, and my canned beans are all together. My bags of beans or whatever, they're all together. Um, and so that has saved me a ton of time.

That's very cumulative. Like I will say that it's not like saving me, you know, 45 minutes a day, but it probably saving me 45 minutes a week. And so it's one of those things that's like just a little. It was a big project that has really added up to big results.

Roni: Yeah, I love that. I would agree that I feel like I am, uh, consistently. I think that's just the idea of like being a little more organized is just such a it's. So there's so much less stress. So like, even if it's, you know, saving you, you know, one or two minutes, every time you go and grab things, there's just an aspect of stress where you're not opening your cups and being like, Ugh, look at this thing.

Riley: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we love to, you know, it's something you and I talk about a lot is just this idea of like, how can we free up our brains? Like, even a little [00:38:00] bit, because we are flooded with things all the time, work kids, the internet , um, you know, like to dos that are not cooking and cleaning and like just other life to-dos that we have.

And so just, just that those little bits of alleviating, like the brain drain. I'm here for it. I need it. I'm here for it. And that has been one of those things for me has been one meal planning, but two an organized pantry.

So, you know, we talked to Mackenzie Koppa quite a while ago. I don't remember.

That was one of our early episodes. Um, And she actually groups her food together in her pantry so that when she goes to cook it it's in one spot and she just grabs all, you know, like the seven ingredients, you know? And while I haven't done that myself, I felt like it was worth mentioning again, because it feels like something that could be very.

Time saving for someone. So I, I don't know exactly her process. Maybe she uses baskets, maybe not. Um, I love a good basket in my pantry. It [00:39:00] keeps all the little knickknacks, all organized . But you know, like you're, maybe you're making like a, a white chicken chili, which is one of my favorite recipes, which is why I thought of it.

And it's, you know, canned. I use, uh, green chilies. I usually use homemade bone broth if I don't, I use chicken stock, group, all of those things together in your pantry. And then when you go to make it, you pull it all out and it's right there together. You're not chasing anything down. Um, definitely feeds into the organized pantry idea.

Roni: Yeah, I love that. I think that's a great idea.

Riley: I have one final thought for us today. Um, and that is just make simple recipes. Um, even, you know, Plan to Eat makes it really easy to rearrange your weekly meal plan. And so typically what I'll try to do is have. It might be if I'm planning. I typically only plan for four to five nights of dinner every week because we eat, eat a lot of leftovers.

So two out of my four are simple. Um, and that way, if I have a, if I end up having a crazy busy day that I wasn't expecting, and I was planning to make some 45 minute dinner, [00:40:00] all I have to do is swap it with the easy one. And it doesn't change a lot other than it saves me a lot of time. and then the last thing I'll say is.

It's okay. To have a backup, like freezer meal. If you didn't make one and you bought one, you know, we all have those days. So if you have something like one thing stored in your freezer that you can utilize to like make yourself have some time saved later just, I would just encourage you to do it.

Roni: I think that's a great tip. Um, yeah, certainly we talk a lot about, you know, doing your own cooking and things like that, but also like, just do the thing that's, you know, some days you just need to press that easy button and just do the thing, do the thing that is gonna be the most time saving brain saving, whatever.

And if that means that it's a frozen pizza, it's a frozen pizza night. It's not a big deal.

Riley: Yeah. I mean, you know, you're likely listening and if you're like Roni and I, like you do put a lot of effort into. Cooking and feeding your family healthful delicious meals. But we [00:41:00] all, we all do need that easy button sometimes. And so just being like, maybe it's just a simple recipe of canned green beans and some smoked chicken or, or, or rotisserie chicken, or maybe it's something else that's just really, really easy. So just, that's just like my last thing of like, just give yourself a mission that occasionally that's great.

Roni: Yeah.

Yeah. So I am going to, we're gonna put a few things in the show notes, but I wanna just call them out here so that if you, um, so you know, to look for them, we're gonna put a link to that cook once, eat all week idea so that you can find Casey's recipes related to that. We're also gonna put a link to Sandra Lee semi-homemade, I don't think that TV show is around anymore, but the website has tons of easy semi hope made recipes.

And then I also found a really great meal prep page from budget bytes, where she gives a lot of her advice on how to do meal prep effectively. Um, obviously her focus is on budget. So if that's also something you're concerned about when it comes to meal prepping, she's like the best. So those will be in the show notes.

[00:42:00] And, we'll also try to link to some of these different recipes that we've talked about or, um, you know, just some things so that you guys have resources to be able to, take this, they take these tips and put 'em into action.

Riley: I just sent over the link to Rachel Mansfield, like veggie or strawberry fruit and veggie wash

Roni: Perfect. 

Riley: um, with salt. So we'll link that in the show notes too.

Roni: Cool. Great. Well, thank you guys so much for listening. We hope you got some good info and some good tips and tricks today. I really enjoyed, um, talking about this stuff and just kind of like learned a little bit, not necessarily learned a bunch of new things, but it's really good reminders to just like, think about these things and think about how you should be saving time.

And maybe doing a little bit of meal prepping ahead of time. So thanks for listening. Um, Review our podcast, wherever you can share it with somebody so they can get these great tips as well. And we will see in the next episode,