Monday, September 1, 2014

Easy Peasy Food Prep for Beginners and Busy People

Do you want to eat healthier or save money but you're too busy to prep food all day long? Or are you intimidated by the process? Don't fret, I can help! Yesterday, I could only carve out 1 hour to prep some food, so that's exactly what I did. Here's what I ended up with:

     - 4 portions of grapes
     - 4 portions of cottage cheese
     - 2 portions of yogurt (large portions)
     - 2 portions of pineapple
     - 1-2 portions edamame
     - 4-5 portions quinoa
     - 4 jars of water

Now I know these are not meals, BUT it goes a really long way. When you have healthy snacks portioned out, it helps to keep you from snacking on bad things or spending money. It also helps keep you full so if you are late getting home and starving, you can snack on these while you make your dinner.  

If you want to know about some of the silly moments I had or reasons why I chose certain items to prep, skip to the bottom of this post.

Here's a quick rundown of how I did this:

1.  Wash any dirty dishes that are in the sink and give it a quick wipe with all purpose cleaner. Make sure to rinse with water to get rid of cleaning residue.

2. Clear off counters and give it a quick wipe with all purpose cleaner. Make sure to rinse with water to get rid of cleaning residue.

3. Set out all the things to be prepped on counters or somewhere in the kitchen.

4. Start off with items that need to be cooked. They will cook while the raw food is being prepped.

5. Prepare all the raw food items.

6. Portion all the food into their containers, store and enjoy!


I started with water. We boil our tap water instead of using water filters and store in glass mason jars. Fill the kettle up to the maximum line, boil, pour into glass jars. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate or leave on the counter if you like room temperature water. We do half in the fridge, half left on the counter.


Follow the package instructions to prepare your quinoa. I cooked 1 cup of quinoa with extra water because we like it kind of overcooked. You don't need to see pictures of how to prepare quinoa but I wanted to show you how my strainer is broken. Haha, funny how I am only now noticing these things.


While the quinoa is cooking, cook the edamame according to instructions. I buy mine frozen and in the shell. You can buy them shelled if you prefer. I don't actually strain it. I just lift out of the water with tongs and shake off the excess. I put the steaming hot edamame in a glass bowl and just let the water evaporate a little. I sprinkle a bit of coarse salt over them all, cover and shake. I know high tech. Once cooled, you can separate into individual portions or leave in a big bowl. These are so addictive, so one bag can easily be consumed by one person.


Now on to the fruits. I use my handy salad spinner to wash my fruits. I was so hesitant to buy one because I thought it was a waste of money. It's not. Wash the grapes in the spinner  and leave in the spinner for a while to make sure all the excess water is drained. Every once in a while, spin it again. It helps to speed up the process.


Wash your strawberries. I have read that washing them in a water vinegar bath helps to prohibit mold so I've been doing that and it seems to work well.  If you are not going to use vinegar, then I recommend not washing the strawberries until you are ready to eat or making sure they are 100% dry before putting them in the fridge. You're supposed to do that even if you use vinegar, but I would be more diligent if you are not using vinegar. Place the strawberries in a colander, then place the colander in the larger bowl of the vinegar water solution. Roll the strawberries around with your hand so that all strawberries pass through the solution. Lift out the colander and give it a good shake over the water. Lay the partially wet strawberries on some paper towel. Be sure to space them out so they can really dry. I guess you could do this on tea towels too but they will stain. I don't own enough tea towels to do this. Let it air dry for a bit then lay more paper towel on top. Just tap the paper towel down with your fingers so it actually soaks up the water. Leave this to sit for awhile. I have very limited counter space so I moved this over to my kitchen table. so I could work on the rest.


This is simple and straightforward so there's no pictures. Spoon the cottage cheese into individual containers. I filled 4 containers with about 3 1/2 tablespoons each. I usually eat this plain as a snack.


I usually buy 0% Greek yogurt but if they have 2%, I'm not picky. I also prefer to buy the larger containers, but they didn't have them today. I ALWAYS get plain because I don't like any added flavouring. I add some honey myself if I need it. Spoon out as much as you want into a bowl, I did about 3/4 of the container into a bowl. I left some in the yogurt container in case I need plain yogurt for a recipe. Add some honey, as much or as little as you want. I just add a good squeeze and that's enough for me. You can taste it for sweetness and add more if you want. I know I can eat it plain so if it's not as sweet as I want, I'll survive. I fill my yogurt into small mason jars. I tend to fill more than what I would eat in one serving. It just works for me because I can snack on it over a couple hours while at work with my yummy homemade granola, not pictured in this post.


The last thing I could do before my hour was up was to cut up some pineapple. I like to do as much as I can on my own, but I have learned over time, that buying a whole pineapple is just not for me. It's just one of those things that never ends up working out for me. So I have resolved to buying the pre-peeled and cored version for a crazy markup. I know, it goes against every fibre of my being but it's just one of those things that I have accepted...for now. If the cutting board was out already, I would have done this on there. Since it wasn't, I did something really fancy. I sliced it right in the container. Slice, then stab each section with the knife and lift it into the storage container. Cut into pieces right in the container. I only got 2 portions out of this, but I love me some pineapple so it was worth it.



Here's almost everything that I prepared during that hour. In all honesty, I left the strawberries to dry and the edamame to cool for awhile while I jumped in the shower. I put those away afterwards. It still only took me an hour. This is the first time I labelled my containers like this. I usually use sticky notes but they always fall off. Here, I am using masking tape and a marker. Note to self, use a real Sharpie next time, the cheap marker I used just rubbed right off. I labelled with the contents and the expiry date if required.

Prepping food has changed my life. This is not an exaggeration. I usually do more that this, some is better than none. Having those snacks on hand make things so easy for me. If I decide last minute that I'm meeting a friend for drinks after work, I can grab a quick snack before I go so I don't overspend at the bar on apps. It's great to take with me on the train to visit my parents so that I'm not forced to buy garbage if I'm starving. You can do this too. You can use vegetables if fruits aren't your thing or...there's just so many options! If you can't spend an hour, spend 30 minutes! I really hope that this helps someone out who thought they couldn't do this. If you are new to food prep or if you have any tips for me, please let me know!

Have a fantastic week folks!!



Why Prep Quinoa?
It's nice to have the grain already prepared. Sometimes I am so hungry that I'll make a protein but by the time it's done, I'm starving so I don't bother with the grain. It's also nice to have quinoa ready to throw into a salad. I find it really makes my life easier to have this ready.

Why Prep Edamame?
Well, it's delicious. It's a great snack and you can shell them and add to a salad or any meal. Edamame is great as a quick snack to take to a friend's house when visiting if you are in a pinch.  It's also nice to put out as an snack if someone's coming over for a casual dinner or lunch. 


1. I usually boil about 4 jars worth of water. For the first time EVER, one of the jars broke when I poured the hot water in. Go figure. 

2. While I was grocery shopping, I spotted a strainer for way more than my dollar store one I had at home. I picked it up to buy it, then thought about it for a good few minutes and decided to pass. Why spend when I don't need to? Well, I need to. See the strainer above with the quinoa, it's way past its prime. 

3.   I was so ready to go on and on about why you don't need to buy an expensive salad spinner but while I was washing my grapes, the spinner started making a weird grinding noise. It still works but it's like gears grinding. Very unpleasant. I will be purchasing a better, more expensive one soon. Not the most expensive, but not the cheapest. 

3. Also while I was grocery shopping, I stared at one of those dish drying mats for the longest time. I always want one but when I see them at the store, I always think they are a waste of money. As I lay the strawberries to dry, I realized how silly I am. I would totally use those mats to help dry my fruits & vegetables. Think of how much paper towel I would save!


  1. I have heard so much about quinoa, and I swear I see/read about it everywhere, but I have yet to try it! Right now was another reminder that I need to :)


  2. Do it :) it takes some getting used to but now we don't even have rice in the house. Thanks for visiting!