An hour of meal prep on Sunday sets up yummy week

This November 2016 photo provided by Katie Workman shows food being prepped for a meal in New York. One hour of meal prep Sunday can more delicious all week long. (Sarah E. Crowder/Katie Workman via AP)


Associated Press

What if you had a prep cook in your kitchen? A sous chef who made sure that all of the slicing and dicing and mincing and zesting was done for you, so that when it came time to make dinner, all you had to do was wash your hands and start cooking?

Most of us aren’t going to get this in our lifetimes. But what if we took an hour on Sunday evening to be our own prep cooks, and make life easier all week long?

Here are a few suggestions: ingredients that make frequent appearances in my kitchen. But you’ll determine the ingredients you most often use.

MINCED GARLIC: This will last for up to a week in the fridge, and mincing it yourself is much better than buying a jar of pre-minced.

MINCED SHALLOTS: If you don’t cook with shallots, please reconsider. They are a bit of a cross between onions and garlic, but they have a mild sweetness as well. Use about half the amount in any recipe that calls for onions, and twice as much if you are subbing them for garlic. Shallots are perfect in vinaigrettes.

CHOPPED OR SLIVERED ONIONS: How nice to get any onion-induced crying out of the way in one fell swoop. I usually sliver one onion and chop a couple.

BIG CARROTS PEELED AND CUT INTO STICKS: Keeping them as sticks means you can munch on them throughout the week, or if you need them chopped for a recipe later, you are halfway there.

CITRUS ZEST AND JUICE: Use a grater (a Microplane is good) to remove the brightly colored outer layer of your citrus fruit and store that in a tiny bag or container. Then juice the fruit and strain the juice into a container. Both items will lend a welcome bit of brightness and freshness to recipes of all kinds, from soups to sauces to salad dressings.

BROCCOLI OR CAULIFLOWER: You might simply roast or saute these later in the week, or use them in stir-fries or soups, or lightly steam them and use in pastas and salads.

COOKED CRUMBLED BACON (DON’T JUDGE ME): A little container of this is like gold, perfect to top off a soup, add to potato or pasta salads, stir into a frittata — there are more ways to use cooked, crumbled bacon than can be mentioned in a few sentences!