MODULE 4. No Extra Time Prep



Module 4. Video

Module 4. Audio

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NOTE: The video and audio files cover the written content on the next tab.

How to Master The Art of Prep Without Spending Extra Time in the Kitchen…

icons more2NOTE: The written content below is the same as that contained in the audio and video versions. This training will be included in the class ebook at the end of the program so you’ll be able to download everything in the one file.

The preparation or ‘prep’ part of cooking isn’t the most exciting. If you think about it that’s where the apprentices start… Here’s 100kg potatoes, get peeling.

BUT without some sort of prep, there isn’t much cooking you can get done.

While this course is really focused on keeping the effort that goes into cooking as MINIMAL as possible, you’ll notice it’s not called ‘Zero Effort’ cooking. And there’s a very good reason for that.

But that being said, I’m a huge believer in the concept of ‘no extra time’ prep. There are plenty of ways to really get the most out of the time you are already spending in the kitchen. And that’s what we’re talking about here!

1. Bulk it.

Now I now cooking in bulk can sound a little off putting. But this idea is really my biggest go-to when I’m looking to get food prepped without extra time. It usually only takes a few more minutes to double or triple a recipe. And you end up with pretty much ‘free time food’.


So for example this week I made a double batch of chilli con carne. It took and extra minute to cut up an extra onion and a few seconds to open an extra can of tomatoes. And that’s pretty much is. We ate the first serving for dinner the other night and now I have the leftovers stored in the fridge to have for lunches this week. Or if needed to be another dinner on another night.

That same night we had the chilli, I made some cauliflower ‘rice’ (raw grated cauli) to go with it.

So what types of meals are good to cook in ‘bulk’?

Basically anything slow cooked, most roasted dishes (sometimes you’ll need an extra oven tray), soups and curries.

I tend to avoid bulk cooking things that won’t reheat so well like steak or panfried chicken. I also avoid bulk cooking things where it’s important to get lots of heat in the pan like stir frys because the extra food won’t cook as quickly.

Remember it doesn’t have to be a whole meal…

It could be where you just prep extra of a side or component like grating my cauli ‘rice’ or cooking up an extra bunch of kale.

2. Multi-Task.

Normally in life I’m not a fan of multitasking because it tends to make us less efficient.

But there are times in the kitchen when it makes total sense.

For example, last night I put a tray of sweet potato in the oven to bake while I was cooking another meal on the stove top. I set the timer and when the sweet potato was tender just got it out. Let it cool then popped it in the fridge to have for dinner another night.

It literally took me a few seconds to turn on the oven, rinse the sweet potato, pop them in a baking tray and set the timer. And now I have it ready to use.

Another example might be cooking a pot of lentils or rice while you’re making another meal. Just bring the pot to the boil. Add the lentils / rice. Set your timer and drain when the timer goes off.

See my ‘prep hacks’ later in this module for more examples.

3. Outsource!

This is an idea that I’ve shared previously but it’s so helpful it’s worth repeating. There aren’t any prizes for preparing all your ingredients from scratch.

If using prewashed salad leaves (for example) makes your life easier (and makes you more likely to have a home cooked meal) then go for it!

4. Start small.

I’m a huge believer in the power of taking baby steps because one of the biggest reasons we fail when it comes to making changes in our lives is ‘biting off more than we can chew’.

So remember to make it almost impossible for yourself to fail.

5. Look to build habits.

Building habits into your life is really the secret weapon to putting your prep on autopilot. Check out the next tab for more on this!

The Secret to Getting Organized Even When You’re Super Short on Time.

Getting organized in the kitchen (or anywhere else in life for that matter) can seem overwhelming at times. It happens to me too.

So what’s the secret?

Focus on building habits.

As I alluded to earlier, this is my ‘secret weapon’ for putting prep on autopilot so everything runs almost without you having to give it a second thought.

4 steps to developing your prep habits…

STEP 1. Identify which prep habits you want want to form.

This is really a personal thing. If you’re stuck for ideas check out my 15 Prep Hacks to give you some ideas. Then just brainstorm a list.

STEP 2. Choose ONE habit to focus on first.

Decide which habit you want to go after first.

Remember the secret to making changes in your life is to set small goals and take baby steps.

By setting ourselves up for success, we gain the confidence and the motivation to keep making changes, one after the other. It also helps us persevere and try again when we fail.

Even though you might be tempted to do more, focus on one habit at a time. This is really important.

STEP 3. Develop a plan.

There are three parts to any habit:

i. The ‘trigger’ or ‘cue’ that starts the process.

ii. The actions you take

iii. The reward you get.

In order to change your habit you need to identify the trigger and reward.

So for example if your target habit is to cook a batch of lentils or beans every week. Your trigger might be on monday night. The action is you soak the beans (and skip this for lentils). Then Tuesday night your action is to cook the beans that are sitting on the sink while you cook / eat Tuesday dinner.

And your reward is being able to use the beans / lentils for meals during the rest of the week. Or maybe you choose another reward… It just needs to be something you’re excited about.

STEP 4. If you fail, keep trying.

Making changes in your life can be tough. And there will be setbacks along the way. That’s a given no matter how dedicated you are.

The key thing to remember is that you only ‘fail’ when you give up or quit trying. So the answer is to treat ‘failures’ as learning experiences and just keep trying!

My Top 15 Preparation Hacks

1. Don’t peel veg!

I know we’ve covered this before… but it’s one of my biggest time savers. And not only that you get less waste. PLUS! Many of nutrients are in or super close to the skin so you’re getting more from your veg as well!

2. A Pot of Lentils.

At least once every 2 weeks I cook up a simple pot of lovely lentils. I love them because they don’t need soaking and only take about 20 minutes to cook. Plus they’re higher in protein and fiber than other beans or grains so the best option nutritionally too!

3. Cooked Greens.

I try and have eggs and some form of veg for breakkie 5 days a week. And I’ve really found if I cook up a big batch of greens like kale, spinach, chard (silverbeet) or collard greens I’m much more likely to have my veg.

4. Roast Whole Veg.

Sweet potato is my favourite veg to roast whole at the moment because Fergal loves it. But don’t feel limited. I also roast whole butternut squash, beets, carrots and parsips from time to time.

5. A Pot of Beans or Chickpeas.

If I don’t have lentils cooked, my other go-to is a big pot of beans (or chickpeas) or these 8-hour baked beans.

6. Rice / Quinoa / Pasta.

I don’t have these higher carb options very often. But when I do my method for cooking them is basically the same, boil in a big pot of water until tender then drain. See specific instructions for rice or quinoa.

The beauty of cooking grains and cooling them before eating is that you actually reduce the amount of digestible carbohydrate so you make them a little healthier by cooking in advance.

7. Grated Raw Veg.

I love using grated raw cauliflower in place of rice. I’ve found that while I’m getting my food processor dirty, it makes sense to grate extra veg like carrot, beetroot and broccoli to have for lunches, breakfasts and other dinners.

8. Make Extra Grilled Veg.

Whenever we fire up our charcoal BBQ I try and have something extra to cook for another meal. It might be grilled zucchini or peppers or cooking onions in the coals.

9. Keep Salad Dressing on the Table.

This is something I’ve started doing recently and it makes getting a salad ready to serve as a side super easy. I just mix up a big batch of salad dressing every few weeks (4-6 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons mustard and 1 cup extra virgin olive oil) and pop in in a dark glass bottle. It then lives on the dining table (all the ingredients are shelf stable). At dinner I just pop my salad leaves in a bowl and dress and toss at the table while we’re eating.

10. Don’t Brown or Soften before Slow Cooking.

Slow cooked dishes take minimal prep if you skip the browning of the meat or softening any veg like onions etc. You will miss some extra flavour development but not much compared to how much effort you’ll be saving. I can’t remember the last time I made a slow cooked dish and actually browned anything first.

NOTE: I slow cook in the oven with allows browning to happen. If you’re using an electric slow cooker you won’t get this same browning.

11. Pack lunches as you’re serving dinner.

I have a stash of pyrex glass containers with plastic lids I use for storage and lunches. By serving up the lunches at the same time as dinner it means it’s done then so in the morning I just need to grab something form the fridge to send to work with my Irishman.

The added bonus is if the food is already allocated to lunch we’re less likely to eat the extras.

12. Chop Veg for Snacks.

Honesty time. I DON’T do this at the moment but I have in the past and getting into the habit of having carrot, capsicum (red bell pepper), snow peas and celery sticks ready to eat and munch can be a great way to snack on more veg.

At the moment I’m pregnant and happier to reach for a handful of almonds, cashews or brazil nuts.

13. Fermented Veg.

This is another one I’ve mentioned before but it’s really changed my life. Having sauerkraut or other fermented veg in the fridge is brilliant for being able to just plonk them on the table and instantly add an extra serving of veg to a meal.

14. Harvest and Store Your Garden Produce.

This won’t apply to everyone but if you do grow your own anything here’s the thing I’ve found. If I pick my veg or salad on the weekend or evening when I’m out in the garden then wash and have stored in the fridge, I’m much more likely to eat them than if I leave the picking to as I’m cooking time.

15. Sunday Baking Sessions.

I’ve always loved baking but since becoming a mother there have been two changes. First I’ve started baking most weekends on in what Fergal and I call the ‘Sunday Baking Sessions’. Secondly, I’ve ditched the white sugar and flour and have moved to baking with real whole food ingredients. They’re still sweet treats but I feel a bit less guilty about feeding them to my little one and to me!

See the recipes in our surprise bonus module for some ideas.

Want more ideas ?

Then checkout The Organized Cook program (when you’re finished with Tired & Hungry Dinners of course!).

What Next?

It’s ‘homework’ time!

Remember we spoke about starting small… Well now’s your chance.

I challenge you to choose one new thing to prep this week.

It might be just making a double batch of something. Or flexing your multitasking muscles and roasting some veg while you cook another meal.

Let me know what you’re planning in the comments below…

I read and respond to ALL the comments. I really want to hear from YOU!

Module 4. Recipes


Module 4. Recipes




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