LTmommy

Spending WAY too much time with food prep/cooking

28 posts in this topic

Hi - I'm in my first week of the Whole30 and I have probably spent almost 10 hours in just the first four days doing food shopping, food prep, and cooking - and this is just a fraction of what food I need to prepare for me and my family.  My husband asked me if the food I prepared was available to him (he's not following Whole30) and I couldn't say no but was also secretly thinking that this program is going keep me shackled to the kitchen if I have to cook for both of us!

 

Any thoughts from those of you who are more experienced in food planning/prep/cooking and have to contend with the food needs of your family (I also have a 6 year old)?

 

Thanks!

 

pwhitaker and MeadowLily like this

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It can be a little overwhelming at first if you haven't been used to cooking your food from scratch all the time, but as time goes on you get used to it & it just feels like a normal part of your routine. Most folk find it helpful to do a batch cook at the weekend so they at least have a variety of proteins & veggies on hand that they can through together and add a fat to, which saves cooking from scratch every day. It's also quite popular to make a batch of breakfast muffins, meatloaf of a veggie fritatta for week day breakfasts so that you can just heat, eat & go...

To give you an idea this weekend I have prepped the following:

Kalua Pork - a huge shoulder joint - enough to feed a small village!!

Thai Green Curry - 3 packs of chicken thighs

A breakfast fritatta - contains 12 eggs, about 1lb ground beef, and a shed load of mixed veggies (spinach, courgettes, pepper, tomato, onion, leeks)

A large batch of mixed cabbage, leeks & courgettes cooked in the pork shoulder fat

A pot ful of baby boiled potatoes - par-boiled & drizzled with olive oil & herbs

An oven trayful of mixed spiced roast veg - sweet potato, beets, parsnip, carrot, onion, leeks & garlic

Double batch of home-made mayo

I also have supplies of fresh peppered mackerel, avocados, tomatoes, spinach, kale, celery, onion, spring onions, peppers & cucumbers from which I can throw together a salad, along with tins of tuna, sardines & mackerel, eggs, compliant bacon, sauerkraut & olives.

Each day I can then grab any combination of protein, veggies & fats and make a compliant meal with little or no prep. This way I'm not in a panic in the morning trying to figure out what I can eat, and I also have time to sit down & relax after I've eaten in the evenings, and there's always compliant food on hand.


 

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You got some good tips from jmcbn.  My first 2-3 weeks of W30 I probably spent 10+ hours cooking/prepping a week.  I didn't mind it but I can see when you have a family that you don't necessarily have ten extra hours per week :)

 

Here are some other ideas:

 

Enroll the help of your 6 year old.  She (based on your avatar...) can mix eggs for your frittata, separate cauliflower florets and other kid friendly tasks... This might not actually save time in the kitchen per se but it may save time from having to occupy her in some other way and give you guys some nice time together!

 

Bulk cook.  ALL.THE.TIME.  Oven on - in go 10 sweet potatoes.  Grill on - grill 2 lbs of burgers.  Boiling eggs - boil all 12.   Making a frittata - make 2 and freeze one.  

 

Make things that freeze well.  When I make nom nom paleo's Korean short ribs I double the sauce and stick the extra in a mason jar and put it in the freezer for the next time I'm going to make it.  Undercook some of those burgers you make when your grill is on and stick a few in the freezer.  

 

Use frozen vegetables when you can.  This winter I was making broccoli soup like it was going out of style.  Frozen broccoli, frozen onion, Penzey's garlic and a few baby carrots and I was done.  2 minutes of prep.  Making a big pan of roasted veggies - frozen cauliflower, broccoli and then some fresh carrots and onion and garlic doesn't taste much different than using fresh but its a heck of a lot easier.  

 

If you think this might really be a life change for you... maybe look into this.  It will cut down on cooking times for soups, stocks, stews, etc.  When I am eating W30-esque I whip up 3-4 meals in this in just a couple of hours.  A usual morning for me was to first prep zucchini or broccoli soup then balsamic beef then cooking up chicken drumsticks to have around for protein for the week and it took me a total of 2 hours.  Which was a huge time saver vs stove stop soup, slow cooking the beef and oven braising the chicken...

 

As you progress you will also develop recipes that are your go to and just end up taking less time.  By the end of my W60 I was food prepping for maybe 2-3 hrs once a week and that was it.  Big drop off from the 20 in the beginning for recipe planning, shopping, prepping, etc.  So it does get better :)

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Hi....I just finished my first whole30 and didn't lose any weight or inches. at. all! I ate compliant all month but still had trouble remaining asleep for 6-8 hours without waking during the night. So feeling a bit bummed. Anyone have ideas as to why?

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Hi....I just finished my first whole30 and didn't lose any weight or inches. at. all! I ate compliant all month but still had trouble remaining asleep for 6-8 hours without waking during the night. So feeling a bit bummed. Anyone have ideas as to why?

You may need more time to heal. Did you have any other accomplishments? clearer skin? less bloating? more energy? The only positive thing that happened on all three of my whole30s was that I didn't have acid re-flux. I felt and looked exactly the same. I am looking into my hormones to see if they are holding me back. Good Luck!

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Hi....I just finished my first whole30 and didn't lose any weight or inches. at. all! I ate compliant all month but still had trouble remaining asleep for 6-8 hours without waking during the night. So feeling a bit bummed. Anyone have ideas as to why?

As TinaR mentioned above your body may need more time to heal - it very much depends on where you came from diet wise pre-whole30, and if you actually have weight to lose. Many women believe they need to lose weight when infact their natural weight is a few pounds heavier than they'd like. If you had a history of calorie restriction or ate a ton of junk food/sugar/sodas etc it may well be that your body needed the nutrition in order to heal any internal inflammation before it could shed any weight.

Were you drinking coffee after noon? Drinking enough water throughout the day? Eating breakfast within an hour of wakening? Eating fruit/nuts as snacks?

If you could post a few days worth of typical food/liquid intake, activity levels etc we may be able to trouble shoot for you & point out some tweaks that could be made.

 

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LTmommy, a lot of people over-complicate things when they start the W30. It may not be easy, but it doesn't have to be complicated.

 

I have always liked to cook, and find my time in the kitchen rather therapeutic.

 

Sometimes, though, I really don't want to be "shackled" to the kitchen. We (husband and I) are happy having a narrow variety of foods during the week. Each week is different, but the meals in that week may have a lot of common elements. Mix 'n match is one way to describe Meal 2 and 3 at our house.

 

It can take a lot of planning at first, but once you have a "system" of how your space and time are organized, meal prep can be highly streamlined. You will develop favorite dishes and meals that you will throw together with little effort.  It gets easier. Really.

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It can be tricky, but you'll get into a groove that works for you. Our evenings are rushed most weeknights (single mom of 3 busy boys), so for me bulk cooking seems to work best. I always make more than what I need for the meal so there are leftovers for lunch over the next day or two. Tonight for example, I had 6 chicken breasts on the grill, 2 spaghetti squashes roasting in the oven along with a huge tray of roasted potatoes and carrots. I've got my veggies already to go for the next few days (also have a huge container of cooked shredded sweet potato from breakfast this morning), all I need to do is cook a protein when needed.....even if it's something as simple as eggs (have taken that for lunch many times...they are my life savers!!). If I barbeque, the grill is full.....anything to avoid not being prepared!


chezjulie and ultrarunnergirl like this

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I found the Well Fed cookbook's section called "The Weekly Cookup" invaluable. Well worth the money just for that piece which outlines how to cook a TON of food in just over an hour, then how to use that food to build meals throughout the week. I never got bored eating those meals. And all her recipes are amazing!

 

For a sneak peek at her work, see her website: theclothesmakethegirl.com

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Hi - I'm in my first week of the Whole30 and I have probably spent almost 10 hours in just the first four days doing food shopping, food prep, and cooking - and this is just a fraction of what food I need to prepare for me and my family.  My husband asked me if the food I prepared was available to him (he's not following Whole30) and I couldn't say no but was also secretly thinking that this program is going keep me shackled to the kitchen if I have to cook for both of us!

 

Any thoughts from those of you who are more experienced in food planning/prep/cooking and have to contend with the food needs of your family (I also have a 6 year old)?

 

Thanks!

It doesn't have to take that long.  Grocery shopping aside, you should be able to prep a week's worth of "base food" in 2 hours or less, you just have to get the system going.  

 

Here's a post I made in another thread about pre-cooking:

 

In 25 minutes you can chop a fridge full of veggies (I did a butternut, four peppers, a bag of mushrooms, 5 onions) and then supplement with bagged spinach or kale, bagged coleslaw (make your own dressing or cook the shredded coleslaw and use as a "noodle" base), the bagged brocoli from Costco & a bag of snow peas.  Just before you start on the veggies, throw a dozen boneless skinless thighs on a greased cookie sheet into a 435F oven , throw some S&P, garlic and ginger powder at them bake them for 35 minutes.  Once the veggies are done and bagged, put two frying pans on the stove and put 2# of ground beef in one and 2# of ground pork in the other.  While those are sautéing, put a dozen eggs in a pot and start them hard boiling while you make a batch of immersion blender mayo and a batch of sunshine sauce.  And when that's done, your chicken thighs & ground meats should be done.

 

So in about an hour you have about 6# of protein + a dozen eggs, two sauces and a fridge full of veggies and your "during the week" cooking should be nearly non existent.  

 

You can also check out the following:

http://theclothesmak...ek-1-food-plan/

http://theclothesmak...ek-2-food-plan/

http://theclothesmak...ind-my-madness/

 

There are also lots of resources here on our forum about cooking in advance, a little google action will get you there, just google "Whole 30 meal prep" or "Whole30 advance cooking"

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Do you work outside the home, too?  That's an extra hardship.  Lady Shanny and others have shared that they don't make separate meals.  They might make extra sides but the W30'rs take out what they can have and share the family meal together.  Your kids are too little but Lady Shanny has a fend-for-yourself-day that I find very refreshing.  :D 

 

I believe in preparation and then there's overkill.  A few ladies have spent weeks and weeks in preparation, only to fall off the grid within about 10 days because they became too consumed with preparation.  We never hear from them again.  Don't let it consume or overwhelm you.   Some of us have never made a meal plan and we wing it almost every single day.  That would be me.  I change everything up at a moment's notice.  I take care of extended family members and somedays, they want something brand new or off the wall.  

SpinSpin and MeGA"gardener" like this

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I found the Well Fed cookbook's section called "The Weekly Cookup" invaluable. Well worth the money just for that piece which outlines how to cook a TON of food in just over an hour, then how to use that food to build meals throughout the week. I never got bored eating those meals. And all her recipes are amazing!

 

For a sneak peek at her work, see her website: theclothesmakethegirl.com

 

I can't second this enough. There are lots of good resources and awesome recipes on Mel's site, but I'm so glad I own her cookbooks. Some blog posts that you may be interested in:

 

No recipe required- cold plate meals (Think deli food minus the crap)

Week 1 cooking plan (a complete how-to on batch cooking for the week)

Week 2 cooking plan (same as above with a few different recipes)

 

During my first Whole30, I did a lot of cooking from scratch for every meal. I made it through, but it was a TON of work. Now that I'm using some of the batch cooking tricks linked above and posted  by others in this thread, I still get compliant meals of fresh, hot food, but I can have meal ready in less than 10 minutes because I have pre-cooked protein, pre-prepped veggies, and a few yummy extras like mayo or a sauce. So when I get home from work and my brain is mush, I can still feed myself.

 

I also can't stress enough how big of an impact it makes to maximize your hands-off time. If you have a casserole or frittata in the oven, make two so that you have leftovers or add an extra tray of veggies or potatoes that you can keep in the fridge and eat over the next few days. Double your soup and chili recipes and while they simmer, slap another pan on the stove to cook some extra protein or veggies. An extra five minutes to do just one quick thing will give you a huge pay-out in terms of making your next meal easier to get into your stomach.

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I am loving this thread, I'm also just finishing my first week and it's been great so far but the food prep during the week and cooking when I got home from work was killer. So I will definitely be taking some of the advice from here to do my food prep this week! My question is, what are y'all's thoughts on when to make sauces, dressings, etc? Do you do it while you're doing meal prep on weekends or do you make them as you need them?

MeGA"gardener" and MeadowLily like this

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Honestly I prefer to have my weekends open so I double cook my meals all week Like MeadowLily I'm a winger Yes I have a general idea

On Shopping day(s) I place all my Protien in glass containers Pyrex whatever and season marinade or s p only It's easier for me I cook the things like fish fresh and chicken can brine or sit overnight Pork beef etc can last a few days

As far as veg I use the same way whatever's fresher or more perishable goes first I batch cook potatoes in a giant roaster whether oven browned it whole etc So they're waiting for me

Soups bone broth and stews and tomato sauces can be done and frozen for nights when you're rushed add a side

If you use a slo cooker prepare night before or cook right along while you prepare a dinner So it's ready and half your meal Is done for the next day I'll also have no compliant sides for the family

Good luck

MeadowLily likes this

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I am loving this thread, I'm also just finishing my first week and it's been great so far but the food prep during the week and cooking when I got home from work was killer. So I will definitely be taking some of the advice from here to do my food prep this week! My question is, what are y'all's thoughts on when to make sauces, dressings, etc? Do you do it while you're doing meal prep on weekends or do you make them as you need them?

 

Mayo is often the only sauce/dressing type dish that I actually plan enough ahead to accomplish on the weekend. Other things tend to get made during the week while the main dish is cooking, but I make sure that they're done in a large enough batch that we can continue to use them throughout the week.

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Any advice . My husband and I are starting whole30 and I'm nervous about the meal prep. Please any advice is great 

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Just now, Cassie stein said:

Any advice . My husband and I are starting whole30 and I'm nervous about the meal prep. Please any advice is great 

Feel free to look around the site, hit the downloads, meal template, rules and recommendations etc (linked in my signature below).  Theres loads of information and tips, tricks etc... available.

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This is what works for me, I prep everything when I get home from the grocery store. It's fresh on my mind and as I put the groceries away I work through each meal. It also helps keep my refrigerator and cupboards organized. 

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@Cassie stein - I've merged your topic with a thread that already has lots of discussion about making meal prep quicker. Take a read through.

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On 6/1/2015 at 0:11 PM, ultrarunnergirl said:

I found the Well Fed cookbook's section called "The Weekly Cookup" invaluable. Well worth the money just for that piece which outlines how to cook a TON of food in just over an hour, then how to use that food to build meals throughout the week. I never got bored eating those meals. And all her recipes are amazing!

 

For a sneak peek at her work, see her website: theclothesmakethegirl.com

I found an old Barnes and Nobel gift card when going through paperwork and didn't really know what to use it on- now I know!  Getting that cookbook, thanks!

ultrarunnergirl likes this

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19 minutes ago, Georgina2 said:

And then this is where I get depressed, because half or more of the ingredients on these menus/shopping lists I am allergic to or can't have because they are nightshades.

The Well Fed cookbooks, while they are absolutely great books, may not be right for you. I think she did some low-fodmap recipes in one, but I'm not sure about the nightshades, and she really likes her spices, so while you could adapt her recipes, there may be better options if you're not comfortable changing recipes up. I'm going to look for my copies and double check that.

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38 minutes ago, Georgina2 said:

And then this is where I get depressed, because half or more of the ingredients on these menus/shopping lists I am allergic to or can't have because they are nightshades.

so I was wrong, it's not FODMAPs she addressed -- in Well Fed 2, she lists at the back of the book modifications to make the recipes AIP compliant.  That means she tells you how to leave out/sub for eggs, ghee, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet & hot peppers, cayenne pepper, paprika, and seed spices like allspice, cardamom and others that come from seeds. Each recipe in the book is listed and will either have the modifications listed, will say it's good to go, or will say it cannot be made AIP compliant. So it might be helpful for you, although you'll have to remember to flip to the back of the book and look at the modifications.

You might also check out this article about the Paleo Autoimmune Cookbook (unfortunately, the link to the book preview doesn't seem to work anymore), or the website of the author of it, Autoimmune Wellness. Thepaleomom.com also has a section of AIP recipes. These aren't all Whole30, but some of them are, or could easily be changed to be.

 

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