Totally overwhelmed by time spent preparing food


ClaireT

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I am on Day 2 and I feel like I never leave the kitchen. I cook at home regularly when not on the Whole 30 and make most food from scratch but this just seems endless. I have roasted veges today (2 batches as I have a tiny oven), boiled eggs, cooked lunch using leftovers and I now need to cook dinner as well as preparing some fish cakes and some frittatas for breakfast and lunch the next couple of days. Does it get any easier?

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Hi Claire....boy do I hear you.  Today will be DAY 6 for me and I am exhausted :)

 

I spent the first 3 days cooking, prepping, cooking.....and then I had to eat, clean up and prep some more.

 

Based on what you just shared, I think you will be able to take a break and eat leftovers. 

 

I am still getting my sea legs for this one.  I have been sick with a bronchial infection since I started -- so I need rest :lol:  My husband is helping prepare meals and prepping.

 

It will get easier - but I hear you.  I am retired and if I was working I don't know how I would handle it.

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I can't answer whether it gets better. But I can commiserate. So much cooking. Thankfully I enjoy cooking, but my evenings are all spent shopping and cooking, and my weekend was all shopping. It's crazy. And the dishes!!! oh my the dishes. I feel you.

 

You could consider doing a weekly cook-up. Make big batches of some things that you can pull out and mix with fresh things you make so any given meal has less prep. I used to do this long ago. It does take a big chunk of time to do even that. It's more efficient though. I figure I aught to start doing it too.

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I would love to bulk cook but we just do not have a very large fridge and living in the tropics everything has to refrigerated. I am lucky that I am a SAHM but I am supposed to be going back to work this month... might not happen. My husband is going to do some cooking this weekend which I am really looking forward to. We don't have a dishwasher either so the constant handwashing of dishes is killing me. Fingers crossed some of this prep will mean I do not have to do much on Thursday as I have some unavoidable commitments then. Thanks for making me feel like I might not be doing it wrong.

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You'll get into a routine, don't worry :). It's a shame you don't have room to store much cooked food, as that does make it easier, but just make sure you're not trying to be too fancy - every meal doesn't have to be a recipe! Grilled chicken and steamed vege with some mayo on top doesn't take long and is only a few dishes to clean up afterwards.

Do you have a slow cooker that you can turn on in the mornings and have food ready for when you get home? Some greens on the side and that's dinner and lunch the next day sorted. And there's always tinned tuna in oil over a pile of salad if you're desperate!

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Maybe you need some quick meals so you can coast a bit. Yesterday I ate 4 eggs fried with 3 big tomatoes for meal 1. I was in a hurry for meal 2 so I had a can of tuna packed in olive oil over a big serving of Bubbie's sauerkraut. I love cold sauerkraut and this meal took 1 minute to prepare. I went to Walmart and got canned octopus, red onions, and bell pepper to make an octopus salad for meal 3. It took maybe 10 minutes to chop the onion and bell pepper, slice some tomatoes, and then mix these ingredients in a bowl with 4 cans of octopus. Then I added a can of green olives, apple cider vinegar and a good dose of yellow mustard. I let the ingredients sit together while I worked for a while and then ate. So basically, I got 3 meals with 15-20 minutes of prep time for all of them. 

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I did my first Whole30 last September, another one in January, and I've been been eating mostly Whole30 while at home the rest of the time. You are right, it IS exhausting. I see some folks on here say that It will only take about an hour to do a bunch of prep work on a Sunday. But it takes me twice as long to do the same prep work, and I've cooked for a long time. I guess some of us are just slower.

Sometimes it feels like, so this is the rest of my life, eh? Nonstop recipe browsing, list making, shopping, prepping, cooking, eating, and cleaning. As tiring as it is, it's so worth it. Once you get through your first Whole30 and you figure out what you want to do going forward, I do recommend an occasional break from the routine. It will give you a rest, AND it will remind you how much better you feel when you eat this way!

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I'm just not comfortable with my tiny kitchen... Tiny because of my massive do nothing island right smack in the middle of it... I need a 6 burner / skillet / 2 oven combo and I'll be happy... Too bad the price of that is a fraction of the construction

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I'm just not comfortable with my tiny kitchen... Tiny because of my massive do nothing island right smack in the middle of it... I need a 6 burner / skillet / 2 oven combo and I'll be happy... Too bad the price of that is a fraction of the construction

Can you get an electric range top installed onto your island?  That shouldn't be too expensive and requiring minimal construction?  Or, alternately, start buying those charity lottery home tickets!  That's my plan at the moment.  ;)

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Thank you everyone for this conversation.

 

Gojo any suggestions/recipes for the slow cooker?????  I have one and we just bought liners for easy clean-up and I want to use it....but don't know what to make and what settings to use.  Any help with this will be appreciated.   I feels meals made in this will make plenty of leftovers and I can focus on other things.

 

THANKS! :)

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Oh Claire, I can commiserate with a small fridge too!

 

I just moved out of a house where my fridge was under 5ft tall (part of which was the freezer) and maybe a 1.5 ft wide. It was terribly small. AND we have a room-mate so "half" of that space was his.

 

Do you have room for a second fridge? I realize that might not be the answer right this very minute, but in the long term it might helpful. We had an old junker fridge in our garage and it was really helpful to put large items out there, like drinks, and keep all the food inside. I would freeze some of my make-ahead items (particularly soup) in the freezer of the outside fridge too.

 

My kitchen was smaller than most people's bathrooms around here. All hand wash in a silly shallow sink, some of the kitchen items lived on a shelf in the living room. I had about 3 feet of counter space, split into two pieces.

 

You can make it work. But yeah, it's a pain. Lots of shuffling and trying to find places to put things as you prep them before you can begin cooking, can't cook as many things at one time as other might be able to. Bowls were my friend. Do all the prep, put in bowls to stage, then begin cooking. But that means bowls to wash. :)

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All great suggestions so far, I'll throw something I learned over the past few years in: bundling recipes that use the same ingredients and/or same kitchen utensils. Example from this past weekend:

 

I LOVE roasted grape tomatoes but they can take a few hours to really roast up right. I start them first. 

 

Bought two packages of chicken thighs, half for a tandoori chicken and other half "breaded" with spiced pork rinds. They cook the same amount of time so they went into the oven together in two small casserole dishes under the tomatoes. 

 

The breaded chicken goes with sunshine sauce, so while the chicken was cooking I made the sauce in the processor. After a quick clean the processor was used to make the topping for cilantro ginger tilapia. Tilapia used a higher temperature than the chicken, so it thawed in the baking dish until over space was available, cooks quick in just 10 mins. I made extra cilantro topping to add to my veggies later. 

 

While chicken was cooking I peeled and chopped zucchini, carrots, and butternut squash (separately) to microwave. It takes about 8 mins to microwave each one, so while one is cooking I'm chopping the next. 

 

I had extra time while cooking, so I grated extra ginger to freeze for next week. Did the dishes as things cooked, cleaned up kitchen, and DONE! 

12 chicken thighs, 5 serves of fish, a dipping sauce, and 4 vegges all in about 2 hours. 

 

Other tips:

  • while tea is brewing or warming up a meal I'll chop herbs or veggies in the 2-3 mins available.
  • If I poach eggs for a meal, I'll keep the water boiling and poach a few more while I'm eating for another meal.
  • My vegges are left plain, so when I'm preparing lunch I'll layer the vegges in the tupperware, maybe add some extra spices, then pick a protein and fat to put on top. 
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Can you get an electric range top installed onto your island?  That shouldn't be too expensive and requiring minimal construction?  Or, alternately, start buying those charity lottery home tickets!  That's my plan at the moment.   ;)

 

I could, but the island is angled and right in the middle... That's the only reason it isn't at Goodwill yet... It has 3 outlets... I have to run NG though, electric is $$$$ here

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Here are some ideas for meals that can be tossed together without having to tend the stove or oven.

 

Thank you for that link.  I'm going into day 4 and realized I definitely didn't cook enough to get me through the week even though I spent half of Saturday and nearly all day Sunday cooking ...

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I don't use my slow cooker (I prefer to slow cook in the oven), but here's a link that should have some useful ideas http://www.mynaturalfamily.com/recipes/paleo-recipes/the-30-best-paleo-crock-pot-recipes/

 

To be honest though, I set aside 3-4 hours on a Sunday to shop and prep for the week (this means I don't have to cook much during the week). Also, I'm single, so I'm not having to prep for anyone else, or take their tastes in to account, and if I have to be boring and eat the same meal 3 days in a row, I'll do it without even thinking if it means I don't have to cook!

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thanks and thanks for the link  

 

For example, please tell me how much food you prep and how do you do it --just chopping?  cooking???.  Frankly, it is day 7 (can't believe it) and I am exhausted (I have also been sick this whole time with a bronchial infection and am on antibiotics).  My husband cooks the breakfast (Thank you Mr. Studio City)   I am just concerned about the food not going bad in the fridge --- I know we will be consuming it --- but a little example will go a long way.  Thanks.

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I cut until I'm either out of vegges or the casserole dish is full ;)

 

This past weekend -- 5lb bag of carrots, 6 big zucchini, 1 big butternut squash, 3 pints of grape tomatoes. This lasts me most of the week, maybe until Thursday? 

Other uncooked vegges: roma tomatoes, a few more carrots and zucchini for later in the week. 

 

You'll get there, it becomes easier soon enough. :)

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thanks and thanks for the link

For example, please tell me how much food you prep and how do you do it --just chopping? cooking???. Frankly, it is day 7 (can't believe it) and I am exhausted (I have also been sick this whole time with a bronchial infection and am on antibiotics). My husband cooks the breakfast (Thank you Mr. Studio City) I am just concerned about the food not going bad in the fridge --- I know we will be consuming it --- but a little example will go a long way. Thanks.

For more about how a weekly cookie might work, read this: http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/2010/01/14/paleo-kitchen-the-method-behind-my-madness/

And this: http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/2013/12/29/whole30-2014-week-1-meal-plan/

Obviously you don't have to do it exactly like this, but hopefully it'll give you some ideas that will work for you.

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It really all boils down to finding your groove. I was doing a big cook-up once a week But that didn't work for me. Instead, every time I'm in the kitchen cooking for one meal I'm doing prep and/or cooking for 2-3 more meals in advance. like last night... I was reheating already baked chicken and cooking some asparagus in the oven. That takes about 10 minutes, so while that was going I also seared some boneless/skinless chicken thighs and popped them in the oven to finish, and then cooked some turkey taco meat on the stove top. Bam! meat for breakfasts and lunches plus tonight's dinner.  The time consuming things I do every weekend is  roast a chicken, potatoes and sweet potatoes since they all take about an hour, and set up Kahlua Pig in the slow cooker for overnight - that's it for my weekly cook up though.  The rest of it is all piecemeal throughout the week, making sure I have enough already cooked protein to grab in a pinch in case I don't want to cook.

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My goodness, some of you are efficient in the kitchen! I wonder if I will ever get to that level of efficiency. All things are possible, right? (I hear laughing....)

 

One of my W30 goals is to find 50 (an ambitious number!) new go-to recipes. I agree with ClaireT... the prep time is tough.... therefore but I think that, for me at least, a lot of that is unfamiliarity - having to THINK about what you are doing - and that's why it takes so long. My non-W30 meals though.... those are familiar & I don't notice the prep. So I want to replace those familiar/easy non-W30 meals with new (familiar/easy) W30-compliant ones.

 

Thank you for the links, which I will explore. And if anyone wants to toss out a recipe (or a non-recipe) of meals they make without thinking about them.... it would be appreciated.

 

ClaireT... I wonder if you are using recipes with multiple ingredients? And maybe the prep work would be better if you looked for simpler recipes? Just a thought.

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Thank you for that link.  I'm going into day 4 and realized I definitely didn't cook enough to get me through the week even though I spent half of Saturday and nearly all day Sunday cooking ...

 

 

thanks and thanks for the link  

 

For example, please tell me how much food you prep and how do you do it --just chopping?  cooking???.  Frankly, it is day 7 (can't believe it) and I am exhausted (I have also been sick this whole time with a bronchial infection and am on antibiotics).  My husband cooks the breakfast (Thank you Mr. Studio City)   I am just concerned about the food not going bad in the fridge --- I know we will be consuming it --- but a little example will go a long way.  Thanks.

 

I get the most bang for my kitchen time when I focus on prepping components instead of prepping recipes. So instead of making salmon cakes and casseroles and very specific meals, I cook a big hunk (or two) of meat, chop and roast vegetables, hardboil some eggs, and maybe make some mayo or a sauce. I pretty much always do the meat in the crockpot. When I'm done with my prep, I'll have a big container of meat and an assortment of vegetables that can be made into different meals and changed up with different spices or prep techniques. My pot roast in the crockpot can be eaten as pot roast with broccoli and sweet potatoes, tossed in the skillet for stirfry with coconut aminos and rice vinegar, or mixed with some tomato sauce and served over green beans for an Italian-style meal.

 

When you have the components already cooked in your fridge, all you have to do is warm them up and season them for meal time. You'll have food on the table in 5-10 minutes.

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I get the most bang for my kitchen time when I focus on prepping components instead of prepping recipes. So instead of making salmon cakes and casseroles and very specific meals, I cook a big hunk (or two) of meat, chop and roast vegetables, hardboil some eggs, and maybe make some mayo or a sauce. I pretty much always do the meat in the crockpot. When I'm done with my prep, I'll have a big container of meat and an assortment of vegetables that can be made into different meals and changed up with different spices or prep techniques. My pot roast in the crockpot can be eaten as pot roast with broccoli and sweet potatoes, tossed in the skillet for stirfry with coconut aminos and rice vinegar, or mixed with some tomato sauce and served over green beans for an Italian-style meal.

 

When you have the components already cooked in your fridge, all you have to do is warm them up and season them for meal time. You'll have food on the table in 5-10 minutes.

THIS IS GREAT THANK YOU....Unfortunately the beef I have bought is steaks...but I have ground beef and plan on making chili.  I planned on chopping and roasting today.  This was the little utz I needed.  Thanks again.

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THIS IS GREAT THANK YOU....Unfortunately the beef I have bought is steaks...but I have ground beef and plan on making chili.  I planned on chopping and roasting today.  This was the little utz I needed.  Thanks again.

 

Anything that you can cook in bulk will work. Ground beef, chicken or steak on the grill (switch up serving whole vs. in strips vs. chopped into cubes), whole chickens, pork roast, beef roast, etc.  A batch of chili can be eaten as chili, used as a potato topper, turned into taco salad, etc.

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