Dieting, Nutrition

Basic Cooking Tips: All about Meal Planning

In this section I want to discuss some basic cooking tips to show you how easy it can be to cook in bulk. Think of this as Meal Planning 101!

Don’t Know How To Cook? Basic cooking is actually really easy!

OK, so I bet you’re thinking, ‘Who does this guy think he is telling me it’s easy?’ As you read through the pages of this website I believe you will see how easy it can be to learn how to cook.

Sometimes the things that seem difficult appear that way because we have never tried to do that thing! Knowledge is power. I’m not going to teach you elaborate 57-step recipe methods. With a conversational tone, pictures, and easy to follow step-by-step instructions, you will be able to cook a meal in bulk for yourself, even it it’s the very first time.

Truthfully, the first meal you make might not be great, or it could be amazing. It might be amazing because it’s the first time you’ve ever done such a thing. That sense of accomplishment and a full belly are enough to make anyone happy. Chopped sweet potato with butter and lemon juice about to go in the oven.

Know How to Cook but You’ve Never Cooked in Bulk?

So you know your way around the kitchen. My role is not to teach you how to become an internationally acclaimed chef or to impress your friends and family with designer meals. This is not to say you are going to prepare bland and boring meals. Absolutely not! Basic cooking is about simplicity, ease and making tasty meals. You may never have considered cooking 2-5 times the amount you normally cook for a meal. This is the simplest of meal plans (always cook to have leftovers). The additional time required is very little. Most of that additional time is in the preparation.

So, for example, if you were cutting up one onion for a particular dish to serve two people, you would cut up 2-4 onions for 2-4 times the total amount. On average I would suggest that it’s only a matter of a few extra minutes per dish to cook that dish in bulk.

Daily Cooking Tips & Preparation

Once you have your meals cooked and stored in your fridge and freezer for the week, you will be doing very little cooking.

Basic cooking may consist of preparing breakfast, e.g. oatmeal on the stove or in the microwave and a vegetable omelet.

For the rest of the day, if you work in an office, you will pack up 2-3 meals or snacks in Tupperware-type containers to take with you. These you can heat up in a microwave, or eat cold (e.g. if you have brought a salad with tuna). If you are at home then you put what you want to eat on a plate and reheat in the microwave or reheat in a pan.

For dinner, you select a protein and some vegetables and reheat. You may prefer to cook your vegetables for dinner. Using a bamboo steamer is a quick and healthy way to cook vegetables and you can save time by chopping up vegetables in advance and storing them in Tupperware. Some lemon juice helps to keep veggies fresh. Thus your day and all of your prepared meals are the result of advance meal planning. Seasoned chicken breast to be roasted in the oven in a cast iron pan.

Variety Also Makes Meals Taste Great!

You have you meat, veggies and maybe rice or quinoa cooked and sorted in separate containers in the fridge. How do you pull these parts together to make a delicious meal?

Staples will add flavor and zest to your meal. Staples can be pesto, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, honey, fresh ginger root, hot sauces, mustard, onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar, pickles, yogurt, fresh herbs & spices, lemons, limes, ajvar and so on.

You can use these staple items in the preparation of your bulk cooking, when you pack up meals for work or when you’re putting dinner together. Staples are useful because they provide variety in flavor, while allowing you to bulk cook on one day and keep your preparation time to a minimum. Think of your bulk cooking as the ‘foundation’ to build upon.

For example, let’s say you have four chicken breasts that were cooked in the oven. They may have been dry roasted, cooked in a cast iron pan with salt, pepper, spices and olive oil or in a tomato sauce. Here are three ways you can serve the chicken breasts:

Sliced thin for a salad (field greens, spinach and tomato, etc.) with an oil and vinegar (or use lemon or lime juice) dressing;

Reheat a breast alongside a vegetable and a starch;

Sliced up and reheated in a pan with a healthy sauce (e.g. one tablespoon of pesto and some water) and served over a bed of rice or vegetables. Staples are a foundation of basic cooking. Plan to prepare your meals in bulk for the week cooked simply so that you can garnish, flavor, and combine with a variety of vegetables every meal to keep things interesting and tasty!

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