Don’t Let Food Eat Your Time

Ah, 2016, the year where you conquer the world! With a fresh start and endless motivation, anything is possible. That is until you realize that time is extremely limited. You want to accomplish so much and yet every time you glance at the clock another chunk of precious time is gone, never to be seen again (until I get my flux capacitor from Amazon).

In my never-ending quest for efficiency I have figured out ways to optimize the important parts of my life. This gives me the time I need to reach my bigger goals and still find a moment to reflect on how incredible life is at the end of each busy day.

I would love to share everything I have learned but that will take more than one post. Let’s start with one of the biggest time sucks that we all deal with everyday; food. Cooking can be time-consuming in many ways because it involves shopping, cooking and cleaning. This is aside from meal planning and learning how to cook (which a lot of us don’t know how to do). It’s for that reason that I did the hard work for you.

With the right diet and some meal prep you can save a ton of time, look great and most importantly feel great while spending less.The following is a flexible routine that includes the gear you need, a grocery list and delicious recipes that will satisfy your taste buds and your wallet.

 Gear:

  • 1 medium pot with lid
  • 1 frying pan (preferably non-stick)
  • 1 small blender (I recommend the Hamilton Beach for $12)
  • 1 spatula
  • 1 good medium-sized knife
  • 1 cutting board
  • 3 large Tupperware (I prefer the lock and lock ones)
  • 3 small Tupperware (also lock and lock)
  • 1 salad spinner

Shopping list:

  • quinoa
  • romaine lettuce (or kale)
  • coriander
  • green onions
  • lean ground chicken (or tofu)
  • Taco spice
  • Sauce: (you can also just buy your favorite sauce)
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • miso paste
  • soy sauce
  • honey
  • sesame seeds
  • sesame oil
  • rice vinegar
  • canola oil

Ok, so now that you have your gear and ingredients let’s prep some meals! We are going to make food for two days but you can always double the recipe and prep for four days at a time. You can do more than this but I prefer to have fresh stuff every two to four days.

Step one:

Preheat your frying pan to medium heat with half a tablespoon of canola oil. While that is heating, measure  1 cup of quinoa and 1 and 3/4 cup of water and add that to your pot with a pinch of salt and bring that to a boil. Once it boils put the lid on and bring the heat down to low. Set a timer for 15 minutes and move on.

Step two:

By now your frying pan is ready to go. Add the ground chicken (or sliced tofu) to the pan. As it cooks, separate it into smaller pieces with the spatula. Once it is mostly cooked through, add the taco spices and a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil. Give that a quick stir and it should be done. Add the chicken to one of the large Tupperware and let it cool.

Step three:

The quinoa should be done. Take the lid off and fluff it with a fork. Add it to one of the large Tupperware and set it aside to cool off. Take your romaine lettuce and with your knife and cutting board slice it into thin strips while it is still fully intact. Wash the lettuce and dry it in the salad spinner. Put the lettuce in the third large Tupperware. Now wash the coriander and green onions. Chop a handful of coriander and slice the green onions. Place them each in a small Tupperware and you’re almost done.

Step four:

Finally comes the sauce.  In your blender combine a 3/4 cup of rice vinegar, 1/3 cup of canola oil, 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of miso paste, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 Tablespoon of sesame seeds, 1 small piece of ginger and 1 clove of garlic. Blend that until smooth and you have a delicious miso ginger dressing for you quinoa bowl. Place it in the third small Tupperware (unless you have a dressing squeeze bottle) and you are ready to put a bowl together.

Step five:

Great job! That wasn’t so hard was it? Now that you have all this great food prepped let’s make a meal. In a large bowl (or Tupperware if you are bringing this to work as lunch) add about 1 cup of cooked quinoa, 4 large spoons of the chicken, a handful of romaine lettuce, and greens to taste. If you are going to be eating right away, add a drizzle of miso ginger dressing and if you are taking this as a lunch just bring the Tupperware of dressing with you and dress before you eat. Give the bowl a good mix and in 2 minutes you have a delicious healthy meal ready to go.

This recipe can go through a million variations. You can change the grain, the greens, the protein, the sauce, etc. So once you get the hang of it get creative or reach out to me on Twitter or Instagram @benjaminsyne for more ideas.

This is just one of many ways that I am taking my time back in 2016. I’ll be following up with more posts on how to save time in all other aspects of life as well. If you have something you specifically want help with, please let me know in the comments section.

Here’s to a successful (and delicious) 2016!

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