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Food Prepping Tip: Group Food Exchange

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Food Prepping Tip: Group Food Exchange
Written by Jaimie Bougie

I’m one of those people who looks forward to food prep each week; it usually takes me just a few hours a time, twice a week, and I find it to be extremely therapeutic. Just me, a cutting board, some veggies and something to listen to – either a new podcast, SportsCenter or my favorite Pandora channel. I can get lost in food prep for hours!

But not everyone feels the love for food prep that I have; some folks are just super busy and find it stressful to have to squeeze the food prep hours into their schedule, while others just don’t have that creative chef gene and don’t know where to start when it comes to planning out a week’s worth of meals. There are even times when I’ve gotten over zealous with my meal plan for the week, and find a mountain of veggies on the counter that I know are going to take a long time to chop in one sitting. What starts as a relaxing hour of food prep ends up with your stove top, oven and grill, all going at the same time, and your cortisol going through the roof as you run back and forth, trying to keep anything from catching fire.

Because of the later, during our last ‘Look Good, Feel Good’ Challenge (this past Spring), I came up with the idea of doing a weekly group food exchange. Although I wasn’t in the challenge, my best friends Shanel and April were, and I knew they were both looking for tips and tricks on how to stay on track and meal prep accordingly. I will admit that I am not the sole creator of this idea; I had heard about it for years, actually, and just never gave it a try until now.

Here’s how it went:

- At the end of each week, before the weekend, each of us would come up with a yummy recipe that fit all of our dietary needs; we emailed the recipe to everyone in our group so that everyone could check out the ingredients and give it two thumbs up before food prep began.

- During the weekend, we each made our meals with enough servings that each person in the group received roughly 3-4 servings each; I believe it came out to be about a pound of meat for each person, plus whatever sides we made as well.

- Sometimes our schedules worked out that we could all meet up at someone’s house and do all of the food prep together, but this logistically did not always work out due to kitchen space or schedules. When we did not meal prep together, we would all eagerly meet up on Monday at the gym to exchange meals.

Why did we love this plan so much? Reason #1: It became a lot simpler for each of us to pick one recipe and make a ton of it, but still end up with servings of three to four different meals each week. As much as I love food prep, I will admit that making a ton of one thing in under 90 minutes was a lot more efficient than having to prep out food for three or four meals at one time.

Reason #2: Even though I was responsible for one third of the meals in our group, it still felt like someone cooked lunch and dinner for me each night because, well, someone technically did!

Reason #3: The variety was great! I’ve gotten in the habit of making the same types of meals because they contain my favorite foods and I’m comfortable making certain dishes. But when you have someone else contributing to your meals each week, you get exposed to new dishes, flavors and ingredients. It’s also a great way to find new recipes!

I encourage you to find a couple of friends and create your own food exchange group, even if you are not participating in our current ‘Look Good, Feel Good’ Challenge. There are no hard set rules for food exchange, so don’t be afraid to spice it up a bit (such as having a theme each week for your food – hello Mexican week!) and make the group work to your advantage.

Published on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 | 1 Comment

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