MANGROVE REALTY ASSOCIATES
Lori Madden, MANGROVE REALTY ASSOCIATES
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How to Get Started With Meal Prep

by Lori Madden 10/06/2019

What steps does it take to plan and execute a make-ahead meal plan? You need a desire to take on a big project. Along with planning what meal recipes you will use you will need to prepare for the grocery shopping trip. You will need a prepping and cooking game plan for the day you put these meals together. Having all the storage space cleaned out ahead of time will be a necessity. You will need to decide on the types and sizes of the storage containers you will use for each meal. Then again check your motives because this is an undertaking for the brave. 

How to Organize Before Cooking

Start with the recipes and how many meals you want to make ahead. Remember this is a lot of work and take s a block of time, so starting small is still a start. You may already have a few recipes that you know will freeze well and that your family enjoys. Then do some research from freezer cookbooks from the library. Pinterest is a quick and easy way to find recipes. The website www.allrecipes.com has a search method that allows you to put in, or leave out, specific ingredients, create a grocery list and save to your favorites. Once you have the recipes, you can start your grocery list. Remember to “shop” your pantry, fridge, and freezer first. You can cross-reference your grocery list with the weekly sales circular. Now schedule the shopping trip and the cooking on different days, but close enough that your fresh food does not spoil. Finally, make sure any of your small appliances or cooking utensils you will be using are clean and in working order. 

The Day of Prepping and Cooking

Most of the articles on bulk freezer cooking advise you to get a good night sleep, eat a hearty breakfast, and keep a glass of water nearby on the day you will be cooking. Take the advice to heart. You will also want to dress for comfort and wear supportive footwear. If you are working with someone else, go over the day’s schedule and split up the tasks. Prep work includes washing and cutting up any of the fresh ingredients, preheating the oven if needed, and starting some boiling water if you are precooking any kinds of pasta, vegetables, grains, beans, etc. Whatever has the longest cook time is what you want to start first. Remember one step at a time, and you will get it all done. Once you have everything prepped and precooked, you can begin to assemble the meals in the containers. Make sure you choose a storage method that works for the meal, ensuring you can both store and reheat in the same container. Remember to label the meal and if possible, any cooking instructions. When you finish your long day of make-ahead freezer meals, do a little happy dance, you did it! 

Want a quick make-ahead plan? Next time you make one of your family’s favorite meals, double the recipe and put in the freezer for the future.

About the Author
Author

Lori Madden

As a Florida native growing up in Sarasota, I have seen my hometown grow from a sleepy coastal town to a highly sought-after destination along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. After working in Chicago for 5 years, I returned to Sarasota and saw it through a new lens and really began to appreciate what makes Sarasota so desirable, including temperatures that allow for year round outdoor activities including tennis (a personal favorite), golf, boating, kayaking, fishing, paddle boarding, or just relaxing and/or shelling on our pristine sandy shores, including Dr. Beach’s #1 beach in the United States for 2017, Siesta Key! Sarasota’s cultural amenities are many and diverse, appealing to a wide range of arts lovers. Downtown Sarasota has become a destination in itself, drawing many new developments for those who want to be within walking distance of Main Street's offerings and the picturesque bayfront and marina. Foodies will find an eclectic mix of locally owned and operated restaurants offering something for everyone, and there are now Farmers Markets every day of the week in various locations throughout Sarasota, but the Saturday morning Farmers Market in downtown Sarasota draws the biggest crowds. Since 1988, my passion has been selling real estate, representing both buyers and sellers. I have been recognized by my clients and customers for an uncompromising work ethic and dedication to helping them achieve their real estate goals. Relying on my experience as a real estate paralegal and being highly organized, I am able to help make the transition between contract and closing a smooth one for my clients. With an eye for interior and landscape design, I've been known to pitch in and help Sellers minimize and/or reorganize their belongings in order to stage their home to maximize its sale potential. I specialize in out of state buyers looking for their piece of paradise along the Gulf Coast and make it a priority to keep them up to date on our quickly changing local real estate market. I welcome the opportunity to share with you all Sarasota and her surrounding islands have to offer!