Menifee Foodie: Five Tips to Make Food Preparation Easier

By Malissa Meeks

When we had seven little ones running around the house, life was so busy. Through the years, I have picked up foodie tips I really wish I had known when I was raising my kids. Life was mass confusion with school, church, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, football, cheerleading, swim team, a house full of hormonal girls (have I mentioned six of my seven kids are girls?), helping my hubby establish his law practice, etc, etc, etc.

Now I watch my own kids raising their kids and the busy lives just get busier. I have shared these tips with my kids and now I pass them on to you.

My top 5 foodie tips:

Write out a weekly menu. Use this as your template for the entire month.

Choose a theme for each day of the week. For instance, Monday could be pasta night, Tuesday could be crock pot night, Wednesday could be Mexican food night, etc.

Select a vegetable to go with each day of the week. Example: Monday-green salad, Tuesday-squash, Wednesday-Broccoli, etc. Select a fruit to go with each day of the week. Example: Monday-peaches, Tuesday-pears, Wednesday-applesauce, etc.

Create your shopping list off the menu you have created.

Using this method shopping and planning becomes so easy. You would need to come up with four different pasta main dishes a month (or alternate two), four Mexican main dishes a month, and so on. Doing this, you know that on Monday you will be having a pasta main dish with salad and peaches as your side dishes. You will know exactly how many packages of spaghetti or cans of peaches you will need a month. This even makes easy to shop the ads.

Do your shopping once a week and any food prep on the same day. Make this your shopping/food prep day.

Since you have your menus complete and know how much of everything you will need for the week, take advantage of that knowledge. Cut down your work.

Clean your fruits and vegetables when you bring them home. Do as much food prep as possible when you are putting away your groceries. For example, if you are going to need grated cheddar cheese for three of your meals this week, then grate all of the cheese you will need for that week on your food prep day. You could even put the amount you will need for each recipe in separate ziploc bags so you can just grab the bag you need when you are creating your recipe. Why wash a cheese grater three times when you can do it once?

Get the family involved.

Kids love "helping" in the kitchen. It is a great time to have conversation with your kids. It is also a great time to teach kids how to work and learn to have fun working.

Keep a sink filled with soapy water while preparing your meals.

When I do this, it minimizes clean-up after dinner. It’s so easy to wash dishes while you cook if you just have that sink of soapy water ready to go.

Start every day with an empty dishwasher.

This will help eliminate that sink of dirty dishes none of us like to have staring us in the face.

Give these tips a try. I promise you they will make life so much easier. Sometimes we make it more difficult than it needs to be.

If you have some favorite tips, please make a comment on Menifee 24/7 and let’s help each other out.

I will be doing another feature with more tips at a later time, but for now I need to go and practice what I preach.

Malissa Meeks is a mother of seven who knows her way around the kitchen. By her estimate, she has prepared more than 42,000 meals over the years. She also knows what she likes in a good restaurant. Her column appears here every Tuesday. Leave comments here or email them to


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