Wednesday, May 27th, 2009...2:27 PM

Time and Money-Saving Food Prep Tricks

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I find that it doesn’t really matter which day you do the grocery shopping on as long as the NEXT day, you have a couple of hours to do some serious get-ready-for-the-week food prep.  It’s hard to do food prep on the same day you shop.  Consider that you probably did several of the following: went through your cookbooks, made the meal plan, cleaned the refrigerator, went to the grocery store, fought with your kids while there, brought the groceries home, and put them away.  Right?  Trust me, food prep needs to be on Day 2.

Here’s what you want to do on prep day:

1. Boil-if you need pasta, rice, or boiled eggs this week, set the water on the stove and get to it.

2. Bake-if you need baked potatoes or sweet potatoes, bread, muffins, etc. this week, pop that stuff in the oven now.

3. Mix-if you make your own trail mix, etc. put that together.

4. Snacks-make a bunch of individual servings of any snacks you can (dips, yogurt, applesauce, trail mix, etc.), especially for kids’ lunches.  If you haven’t already, invest in a TON of food small food containers.  IKEA has some CHEAP sets with some great sized little containers in them.  Write your last name on them in Sharpie in the hopes that they come back to you from school, work, etc.

5. Veggies-you buy them and they rot in your fridge. What a waste of money.  If you do nothing else on prep day, wash and cut up your veggies.  They can be used for dipping, salads, etc. all week and when they start to go south, throw them in a stir fry, broil them, or add them to a sauce.  You can mix hard veggies such as carrots, celery, bell peppers, radishes, fennel, beets together.  Keep softer veggies or veggies with seeds separate.  After cutting, dry in a clean kitchen towel to absorb as much water as possible (or use a salad spinner), mix the veggies together, and then place in small individual serving size containers.  Sound familiar?  Trust me, psychologically, you are more likely to eat them if they are in individual containers.

A little work up front ensures that you are more likely to eat the healthy food you purchased at the store, less likely to eat out, and able to make dinner and lunches more quickly all week.  All of this saves you time and money, and it’s good for your health.

About the Author:

Chris Heidel is the owner and primary personal trainer with Libra Fitness in Austin, TX, a private, in-home studio. Chris focuses her business on developing mentoring relationships with her clients built on trust and meaningful support to help them set, achieve, and maintain realistic fitness goals. Chris truly believes that while getting in shape isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Chris is certified through the American Council on Exercise.



  • I read your tips here and I was inspired. Yesterday I bought all the produce I love in salad and fixed up 8 salads. Right now I am boiling eggs to add. I sort of forgot I loved eggs in salad and since I get 3-4 eggs a day from my hens this is a great way to use them up. Keeping a few hens (most cities allow this) is really easy and the organic, grass produced eggs can’t be beat for clean protein. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  • Pam-We are supposed to be pitching in on the cost and sharing chickens with some friends. Fresh eggs are the best! Glad you liked the tips. Let me know how it goes.

  • Chris –

    I have a golden rule that I don’t cook on the same day that I grocery shop – for all of the reasons that you listed above! I focus a great deal on planning out my meals before heading to the store and this makes it so much easier to manage my food prep routine.

    Thank you for a useful, time-saving post!


    Donna J

  • Chris – you inspire me every time I see you! After I watched you eat that beautiful, healthy meal this morning, I went to Wheatsville and stocked up on the good stuff. It has taken me a long time to “get it”, but I’ve finally realized that my body is worth treating really, really well.

  • Good for you, Jenny!

  • [...] also getting some protein. Another tip, wash and cut up your veggies and mix together in advance.  See another blog post of mine for more tips on how to do that. Dole out the hummus into small individual serving size containers, too, and then all you have to [...]

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