Episode #88 – Allison Stevens And The Prep Dish Meal Plan

Allison Stevens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this week’s episode, talented chef and nutritionist Allison Stevens talks to us about her meal plan system, Prep Dish. We discuss how planning meals ahead of time and prepping your ingredients can change your outlook on cooking, remove the stress of eating healthily and help you fit diet and health plans into the busiest of schedules.

We all want to eat healthily, but it’s easy to let those good intentions slide when time is short, or when you’re feeling uninspired in the kitchen. Allison’s plans are designed to fit into just about any lifestyle and to appeal to the laziest of cooks. You can create tasty, colorful and nutritious meals for the whole family with very little effort using these meal plans and the ‘prep ahead’ method.

We look at how Prep Dish can help those who choose Paleo and anyone eating gluten free. The diet plans even come with a shopping list, so there’s no distractions when you hit the store, and are color coded to help you find what you need easily. Once you’ve got the week’s ingredients, you only need to spend a couple of hours prepping up your meals – save time, effort and stress when you’re cooking.

We also discuss some of the benefits of healthy eating, and why it’s so important to watch what you eat. If you feel that Prep Dish could work for you, why not take advantage of the special offer for our listeners? Visit www.prepdish.com/fattofit and try out the meal plans for one month at a discounted rate of just $4.

Find Allison Stevens and the Prep Dish team online:

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Don’t forget to leave us your review in iTunes for your chance to win a range of great prizes from our special guests.

FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

MELISSA: Welcome, Allison. Thanks so much for taking time to be on the program today.

ALLISON:  Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.

MELISSA: Allison, Some of the listeners may not be familiar with you or your story, so I thought it might be a good idea to ask you to talk a little bit about why and how you became a chef. And then, you went on from there and you got a master’s degree and became a dietician, all these other things and eventually developed your company. But what got you started on this road?

ALLISON:  Well, I was only interested in food and cooking growing up. And one of my high school teachers really took notice to that and set me up with a job where I was cooking basically as a private chef in the summers and I loved that job, and so decided I wanted to go to culinary school. I was also always really active in sports. And I don’t know, to me, the nutrition part I guess is sort of a given. It’s like if you’re going to spend all this time cooking food, you should be nourishing your body and doing something that’s healthy for your body. So I always sort of have a combined interest in cooking and nutrition. And after that, you know, first job was like I said, essentially private chef in high school. I went to culinary school and it was a combined culinary nutrition degree. And it was a really great program.

I had the opportunity to cook at some health spas. But as I was doing that, I just didn’t see myself in a kitchen, behind the stove all day. That thing just didn’t appeal to me, like working in a restaurant didn’t appeal to me. So I thought, “Well, I’ll go and get a master’s in nutrition.” So I wanted to figure out a way where I can combine the nutrition and the food and the cooking. So I got a master’s in nutrition and became a dietician and I was still trying to figure out how can I combine all this that I love. And I’ve always been entrepreneurial, so I think I always knew that I would sort of did my own thing and paved my own path. And that’s basically what I did, I had a job for a little while working on promoting almonds which was really fun, but I did miss cooking. And so after a few years in the real world, I decided to go back to cooking and started a personal chef company in Austin Texas; I love doing that, but then got to the point where I could only take on so many clients. You know, after five to seven clients per week, I was basically full and realized that there was a way to take the process that I was using with my clients which was spending the day prepping their food for the week and taking that process, writing it down, and getting it out to thousands of people, or you know, unlimited number of people by doing an online business. So that’s what the idea of that PrepDish came from was from this personal chef company that I have.

MELISSA: Right. And we’re going to talk about your company and how it works which is pretty cool and really intriguing. And I think it’s definitely service that I was looking for about two or three years ago. And I haven’t stopped looking, I’m still looking. But I want to ask you some questions related to one of the places you work with which I’m familiar, but I haven’t been there but I know about it, Canyon Ranch. And what did you find from a food point of view from people that obviously a lot of celebs and people go there to sort of boost up their health or to maybe recover from an operation or something they’ve had, or just for a rest? And one of the big attractions is always the spa food and I think Oprah started the trend 20 years ago and now, maybe or 15 anyway. It was luxuriating at the spa, but one of their key promos for spas like that is that the food is super good for your and super healthy. What did you find in cooking for people that were visiting Canyon Ranch?

ALLISON:  well, you know, the thing I found with cooking healthy, whether it’s at the spa or for a high-end personal chef client, it really just comes down to cooking things from scratch, so making sure that you’re cutting the vegetables and just using real food. It doesn’t need to be something complicated. Even at Canyon Ranch, when I was doing things, I was on the salad bar. So yeah, we would have fancy put-together salads, but we would just have chopped fresh fruit for breakfast and crushed vegetables on the salad bar. So sometimes it’s really simple things. It’s not something super complicated.

MELISSA: That’s a good point. So it’s taking mainly focusing on the fresh products and very clean products that we talk about, so being organic and being as good as possible also in the meats department being sort of the non-factory farmed meats, it looks like that, and putting those together in simple dishes. And then just, I guess, making them look extremely good. That’s my problem. My food tastes pretty good but it doesn’t always look the best. So I know that’s always important for presentation because when you look at it, it looks super good.

ALLISON:  The other thing I really learned about too was relying heavily on fresh herbs and spices for seasoning, so not trying to figure out some complicated process or method that really just looking through again those fresh ingredients. But fresh herbs are a good go-to and even just playing around with spices can be a lot of fun and using citrus to add flavor and not trying to complicate it too much.

MELISSA: Now, I imagine there they have their own fresh herb garden on site?

A: Gosh, you know, I don’t think Canyon Ranch did. I work in another one called Champneys, and there, we did. I remember I was the first one to volunteer to go chop the fresh herbs from that garden, but it’s been several years. So at this point, they might have. But when I was there, we didn’t have a fresh herb garden.

MELISSA: Yeah, I think that’s something really good that you touched on there is fresh herbs and spices because they’re not very expensive. And now, I mean, out here in California, and I know in other supermarkets across the country, I travel around a fair amount, you can get these little potted herbs that you can keep in your kitchen in the kitchen window. And you can just clip them as you need them and just keep them watered. And you can use them in the winter. You can use them all through the year and then just replace them. And they’re really inexpensive. I think they’re like a buck or something for a pot.

ALLISON:  Yeah, I have some basil on my patio right now.

MELISSA: Yeah, and also, you can get the pods for like the tomatoes and stuff. They’re kind of like collapsible trees. And if you do have a patio or even like a little balcony, you can put them out there and you’ve got your own little tomato factory in the summer anyway. It’s super cool. Or if you’re lucky enough to be out here in the Mediterranean climate, you can have them all year round. But to me, I like to do that too is I like to add a little bit of those to a dish, particularly like for something that you’re cooking in a Crock-Pot, a little bit of spice or a little bit of like cold-brewed coffee thrown in with short ribs or something. That just adds such a great taste and you can mix up chilies or something but you just need a few formulas to help you with that, which brings us to your company. So tell us a little bit about PrepDish like from the beginning. So we know nothing about this. I know a little about it but what is it that the company actually offers and does and tries to do for customers?

ALLISON:  Yeah, well, I guess I went back to with the personal chef clients. What I was doing was visiting them once a week, doing all the chopping, doing all the mixing if there was like quinoa or rice to be made or gluten, cook that, mix up any marinades, basically do all the work ahead of time. And when I got home to dinner at 5 o’clock and didn’t have anything, I realized, “Well, I need to be doing the same system that I’m using for my clients.” Because when you get done from a whole day of cooking, the last thing you want to do is make a meal from scratch so that’s why I started doing it for myself and sort of then, well, gosh, like everyone should be using to get food on their table because everyone says they want a personal chef, and this is a good way to allow—

MELISSA: I do. I would fly here. If I had the money, you would be here every time. But now, let me just stop you there because that’s interesting. So in doing the actual, personal chef thing, so we’re just diverting a bit from your company which does a similar thing, but you would actually go to the person’s house on let’s say a Monday or a Sunday or something and you would get everything ready for them for the week and it would all be in their fridge?

ALLISON:  Yup.

MELISSA: And then, so what would be the process of them preparing their, let’s say, their evening meal, would they just reheat things or would they actually do some cooking? What would happen?

ALLISON:  Yeah, so it’s simple. I would leave instructions how to heat finish things off, and that could be sticking the lasagna in the oven for an hour or if it was a fish, I would usually say “Well, marinade this fish for 30 minutes and then bake this at this temperature for this amount of time and add the dressing to the salad.” So really simple way to just sort of finish it off. But it wasn’t necessarily leftovers, it was still being cooked for the first time.

MELISSA: Got it.

ALLISON:  And that carries over with the meal plans. It’s the same thing. It’s like, well, have that marinade ready but then actually marinade the fish and bake it that night versus baking the fish on Sunday.

MELISSA: Got it, okay. So you are having like a super fresh meal. It’s just that all the ingredients and everything has been pre-purchased and it’s ready to go. And it’s nothing that’s going to expire before your week is out, so that’s pretty cool. With PrepDish, you actually, let’s see, this can all be done from your website, right?

ALLISON:  Yeah, so what it is, it’s a three-part download. So once people sign up, in their e-mail, they get a PDF and there is three parts to it: first is the grocery list, so you go get everything from the grocery store. And then you go to your kitchen and you have that prep day. And that’s sort of the key is you’re spending two to three hours ahead of time doing all that prep work, so any of the chopping, any of the long baking, anything that can be done ahead of time is done ahead of time, so that’s part two. And then part three is the night of the meal, so say, Monday night, when you have to add the dressing to the salad and stick something to the oven for 10 minutes or 20 minutes and that process then, so that dinner night is really pretty simple because you’ve done all the work ahead of time. And again, it’s usually a Sunday afternoon that people do the prep.

MELISSA: Yeah, there’s great testimonials to on your site. We’re going to put a link to your website in the show notes so people can check it out, but saying how it saved them a ton of time and the kids were happy. It’s always important. Now, also, I want to mention you have a gluten-free menu and also a paleo, a focused menu for people who are following their own version of paleo or a strict paleo diet, or mixed up paleo diet. It’s depending on what people do. Why did you decide, we’ve got such a controversy going on now about gluten-free, about how companies are changing the way they’re doing business, but there’s a huge raging argument going on out in the world, at least in the US, about whether this is a fad and it’s totally exaggerated. And since you’re in the business, so actually cooking and preparing food and getting people organized, what have you found in your own experience about gluten-free or in just dealing with gluten in foods?

ALLISON:  Yeah, you know, the gluten-free, it started out on the personal level. My sister got really sick and took gluten out of her diet even though the doctor said, “You’re tested and you’re not celiac.” But she took it out of her diet and eventually within a few days, it was like all of these symptoms of not being able to sleep, headaches, stomach pains, all these things like they just kind of magically went away. And I didn’t think much of it, but I thought, “Well, I’ll do a little spring healthy eating a few weeks and I’ll take gluten out of my diet and just see if there’s a difference.” Not expecting anything. And so after that month of not having gluten, I tried to reintroduce it and immediately my body started reacting, stomach aches, and just not good.

It was very obvious that my body did not want me eating gluten. And since then, it’s been almost four years now that I’ve been gluten-free. And I have to say, there’s a lot of things that I didn’t realize in the past were going on which is funny because you would think going to nutrition school and becoming a dietician, I was always very tuned in with my diet. But I didn’t realize this and things that people take for granted has been normal, I guess. Like I would get strep throat once a year and I’ll get several colds, and kind of sometimes be a little groggy. But I never thought anything of it, but then once I did cut out the gluten, my immune system, those colds, I just always said, “Well, I have a poor immune system.” Because I had mono in the past and I don’t any more. I haven’t been in the four years since I have been gluten-free, I think I’ve had one cold in four years. And it used to be four colds in one year. So for me, it was just obvious that I should not be eating gluten. And so when I went to create this, I test all the recipes so I couldn’t have gluten in the recipes because I wouldn’t be able to test them. So that’s sort of what it came down to is in order for me to test them and try them out, they had to be gluten-free. And then the paleo was more because of clients.

I’ve seen a lot of clients. There’s a doctor here in town, Dr. Amy Myers, and she puts a lot of her—it’s sort of a paleo version of a diet, and I’ve worked with some of her clients and cooked for them. And some sort of paleo version seems to work well for particular people. And I had enough clients that were feeling better on paleo-ish diet that I put together a paleo version of my meal plan. And basically, a lot of the gluten-free diet is all, or my gluten-free diet is all whole foods-based and everything from real food. And so that, compared to paleo, was pretty close. So to make the two different plans, they aren’t that different actually.

MELISSA: Right, well, I am a big proponent of eliminating gluten from your diet if you choose to. I’ve had amazing results. People are sick of hearing me talk about it, but from doing that and from a number of things as well, not just that. But also, people should be careful that they don’t think they’re helping themselves or that they do think they’re helping themselves, I should say, by going with a lot of the “gluten-free” crackers and foods like that, because what I found when I did my allergy testing was that I was highly sensitive to the different things that are used in those products like teff and sorghum. And in fact, teff and sorghum were off the charts for me. So by not eating the conventional gluten, I was actually going to a more aggravating product. And so I was really screwed up there for a bit. So it’s good to spend a couple of bucks, I think it’s the Cyrex test. So I’ll put a link in the show notes to it and ask your doctor to recommend you to that or just pay for it out of pocket because it will give you a good breakdown of what you’re sensitive to. And again, I showed up sensitive for dairy, not allergic, but just sensitive to it. And at that point, I didn’t mind kind of just skipping that for a while. And I felt much better. And also with gluten, I’ve noticed that I have a ton of arthritis. I have osteoarthritis in my shoulder and all over the place. And I noticed over a period of 60 to 90 days that all kind of aches and pains and little weird things that you’d have this twinges kind of disappeared.

Now, I know there’s a lot of theory and there are some studies out there saying arthritis is linked to gluten. It can be linked to gluten and blah, blah, blah. And I’ve done a ton of physical therapy. So again, I’ve done other things to help myself. But I’ve noticed when I’ve gotten gluten or taken it in either willingly or unwillingly at restaurants, that those aches and pains come back pretty quickly. So I’ll feel some joint issues and some unusual, it’s noticeable now because they’ve been gone for so long. So when things start to ache, I’m like, “Hmm, what’s going on here? There must be something wrong.” So I really encourage people to do a little test, spend some money and do a sensitivity test to really see where you are in the spectrum and then try some experiments, particularly with your kind of service because you’ve got some really tasty menus on there. And again, when we talk about whole foods, we’re talking about unprocessed foods, so foods that don’t usually come in a box or can, or a package.

ALLISON:  Yeah, I always say I don’t have any of the weird gluten-free foods. You know, there is no like, “Oh, we’re going to place this with this.” It’s just, you know, “Let’s do a chicken leg with vegetables.” And you don’t notice that there is no bread roll there. I’m not doing gluten-free bread rolls.

MELISSA: Right, and there’s a ton of, we’ve had some people on and people coming up that have—and there’s certainly a whole plethora of books out there, Nom Nom Paleo is a really good one. And Sarah Valentine’s books are good, which take you through the whole baking experience. That was one of the first things I did was I made some paleo brownies using sweet potatoes and cocoa, and they were delicious. In fact, I took them to a party, people loved them until I told them what they were and they were like, “What?” But there’s a whole baking realm you can get into which will kind of assuage your desire for some of the baked goods that it’s hard to get away from. But then, there’s also some cool substituting that you can do. I found for breakfast dishes, like using the sweet potatoes to make like a little pancake-y kind of thing for yourself and substitute that for like eggs benedict. Instead of the toast or the muffin, put it on a little sort of crispy sweet potato-thin pancake thing. That’s kind of one of my recipes. It’s great because it has a little bit of sweetness, but yet it also soaks up the egg and you can just go crazy with it, or depending on what your tolerance for carbs is too, just experiment with it. But it makes a nice substitute for the bread that you would normally have there or something to soak up the eggs and stuff. So I encourage people to do it.

ALLISON:  Yeah, awesome dishes.

MELISSA: So now, take us through the process here. So I’m going to sign up for your service, and the three downloads. So I get the—I’m just looking at your website to make sure I’ve got it here—so you get the meal planner, right? It’s the first thing.

ALLISON:  Yeah, so it’s one PDF. And it’s just three sections. So the first section is a grocery list, the second section is that prep day, what do I do? And the third section is your menu for the week and what you do each night, the really simple “what you do each night” instructions.

MELISSA: Now, are there a whole bunch of different menus to choose from or are there like three or four or ten?

ALLISON:  So, well, there’s a new one for every week.

MELISSA: Oh, wow. Okay.

ALLISON:  Yeah, so there’s like 90—well, over hundreds of them actually, the others. A new one each week, and when you sign up, basically the e-mail includes links to all of the plans for that month. So each month, you’ll get a download so that some people don’t do it every single week will kind of have weeks where they do it or they don’t. And so they may pick and choose from that month which of the weeks they want to do.

MELISSA: Okay, cool. Now, you’ve got it set up, so I’m looking at your layout that you plan here. And again, we’ll put a link right to this page so people can see the whole thing laid out if they want to. So you’ve got, I love the color and the picture because I’m a visual person. So when you have this in your hand, you can always do the supermarket, you don’t even have to read.

ALLISON:  Yeah, I know it’s funny. That’s one of the things people like the most is the grocery list. It’s color-coordinated, it’s by store. I’m telling you, I was a personal chef for a year, it’s like I knew how to get in and out of that store in 15 minutes. I didn’t want to spend my whole morning wandering through the grocery store. I’m a pretty efficient person.

MELISSA: Yeah. I think, well, that’s one of the big things about cooking. And again, I’m not an expert cook by any means. I can do the best I can. But I think one of the things I’ve always been jealous about of cooks, or professional chefs and people who have been to chef school, is one, they’re highly-organized. There is no wasted movement in the kitchen and there’s no wasted effort. Everything is highly, highly-organized to the point where it’s, “Get out of my way because a hurricane’s about to go through the kitchen.” And anyone who’s got that level of professionalism is extremely efficient.

ALLISON:  Yeah, and I think that’s one of the top things about cooking is timing can be really hard. It’s like you want to make sure, if you have a spaghetti squash to bake, that needs to go in the oven first. And if you’re going to be cooking, make sure those time-intensive items on the list are started first and then end with the quick-and-easy stuff.

MELISSA: Right. So your grocery list is cool because like what I said, it’s color-coordinated and it’s got all the pictures of what it is you’re actually going to get, like herbs, veggies, fruits. When you have this in your hand, like I said, I can see myself going through the store, as you said, very quickly, because you know exactly what you need to get and you’ve got the picture of it. You even have frozen food items. Again, people who have come on the show talking about how you always want to have some frozen things on hand because, one, if you shop efficiently, they’re cheaper at certain times and certain stores. And also, you’ve got kind of a larder in your freezer for a day when you don’t feel like going to the store or disaster happened, it’s a snow storm or it’s a hurricane or something that you don’t want to go out. You’ve got a whole backup list of things you can prepare. And that’s another thing that chefs do is they have like that backup of frozen items that they can mix with fresh items. And they’ve got this great meal which is always something I never do.

A: Yeah, I always have Crock-Pot meals. Sometimes, they’re nice. You can put some of those in the freezer and then that way you have a day where there’s absolutely no time, you can pull that out in the morning, stick it in the Crock-Pot and you’re good.

MELISSA: Great. Crock-Pot has saved my life for the last three years for sure, especially the new Crock-Pots. And I’ve talked about this, again, people are going to be screaming into their iPods, but if you haven’t checked out the latest Crock-Pots on Amazon, just go there because the modern ones, I mean, I remember grandma’s Crock-Pot, but these things are like space ships. I mean, they can do everything. They can keep it warm. They can just do a ton of stuff. They have all kinds of things that you just want to take it to the next level. But they’re so efficient with, like you said, a handful of ingredients. You can have a great gourmet meal ready when you get home at night for the whole family and all you have to do is serve it, or make a side dish, or both, and you’re cool. And it’s just so little effort. And even if you are really busy in the morning, if you have your stuff, like you said, laid down a little bit ahead the night before, you can just throw your ingredients in and off you go.

ALLISON:  Yeah.

MELISSA: And you’re done. And you usually have some sort of a gravy or something that you can add to a side dish. So it saves so much time and effort and stress out of everything. All right, so then on the prep day, again, you’ve got a graphic which shows your dressings, chopping, sautéing, blender, and then a little time elapse thing to show you what the prep time for each one which is pretty cool. So again, you can do this whole thing by just looking at pictures. It’s sort of like a coloring book for adults.

ALLISON:  I try and make it as easy as possible, quick and easy.

MELISSA: Great. Now, here’s the big key is you have this thing called “Instacart” which a lot of people might not be familiar with. It integrates with your program. What is Instacart? How does that work?

ALLISON:  So Instacart, what that is if people don’t want to do the grocery shopping, because when you think about it, so you have the time spent on meals, it’s grocery shopping, doing the prep ahead work, and then the night I’ll try and keep it really easy. So the grocery shopping, if you cut that out, then you only have that prep time which is only two or three hours. So what some people would do, they can send their shopping list to Instacart and it’s a grocery shopping service where they get your shopping list and within a few hours, they’ll be at your door step with your groceries, so then you can eliminate that part of thing. So some people actually use Instacart regularly. Others, it’s like, “Okay, this week I just don’t have time to do the grocery shopping. So I’m going to send it to Instacart.”

MELISSA: So Instacart is mostly right now on the East coast in a few outlets?

ALLISON:  It’s out there in Austin too. I know that they’re expanding, but I think just like within the last year they really started to expand. I know they have it also like Northwest. There’s some locations in San Francisco. I know Austin, but I do have subscribers sort of in the Midwest where I’m from. It’s not there yet, but I do know they have plans for expansion.

MELISSA: Yeah, it looks like there’s quite a few in the East coast. There’s a few sprinkled around in the Midwest. There’s out here in Los Angeles, and up in I think it looks like Portland and Seattle. It looks like there, so good locations out there. So that’s good. And I would guess you integrate it through your plan with them, but somebody could use another service, like it‘s available out here, a shopping service or like TaskRabbit or something like that?

ALLISON:  Yeah, because the grocery list is already there and done. So anyone that’s willing to do your grocery shopping for you, you can send it to them. The list is already there and put together. So there’s some different ones here in Austin. There’s also one called “Burpee.” And I think they’re in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and so some of the major Texas cities. So yeah, any of those grocery shopping services or TaskRabbit would be another good one where someone could go…

MELISSA: Yeah, just google. We’ll put a link to some of them, but I know there’s a whole bunch that just started up here in my area in Orange County that will do grocery shopping or basic shopping for you. And it’s incredibly cheap. I know a friend of mine was texting me to use them. And it’s just one more thing to save you time and effort and organize your day, like you say.

ALLISON:  And that’s the other thing with prep day, it’s figuring out. So I know people tackle the prep part of it differently. Sometimes, it’s a couple, and they do it together. Sometimes the kids are involved. Sometimes, I know people, they have like a babysitter, a nanny, that actually does the prep instructions, or you can have a personal assistant. So depending on your needs and all that, there are different ways to go about getting it done.

MELISSA: That’s a good tip. So I like the thing of involving the kids in prep day and making it a family thing because, again, I think that’s one of the basic skills every kid should have is learning how to cook basic dishes. If I had learned that, I’d be way further ahead than I am now. But I think if you learn those things as a small child and even a good place to learn to apply that is a place where you’re very restricted, like a camping trip or something, where you don’t have the full kitchen and you have to improvise, because then if you can pull it off there, you can pull it off at home easily. But if you learn half a dozen dishes as a kid, and you’re really confident preparing those, I mean, that’s a real skill going through life. You always know you can buy this few ingredients and you can have a great meal. And you’re good. So it takes you away from the fast food fast lane which so many people get into just because of time and pressure and stuff. Now, let me ask you, Allison, about what would you sort of as a tool kit for people to put together for doing their meals, what are like the four, maybe essential things people should have in their kitchen? Let’s say they’re just going to retackle cooking.

ALLISON:  Yeah, so first of all, I don’t think that cooking requires a lot of fancy equipment and tools. There are a few key pieces that I like, but I don’t think it needs to be like this overwhelming thing, but really just a few basic things. Number one is a good knife. Do not try and do all of your chopping with a paring knife. And if using a chef knife is intimidating, then take a basic knife course and just kind of learn that, because that chopping skill is one of the key skills that you need to do healthy eating, because you need to learn chopping vegetables, chopping fruit, all of that. So definitely a good chef knife that’s bigger than a two-inch paring or steak knife. And so that’s my number one. Another one that I really like for prepping your meals ahead of time are good glass containers with some study snap-on lids, just because plastic, one, there’s BPA in it that can leak into the food. And it just doesn’t feel as fresh to me. So invest in some good glass containers to store all the foods that’s going to be sitting in your fridge in a few days.

It will just keep it fresher. I actually also buy labels for it because I like to label what’s on there and especially if you’re sticking it in the freezer, the glass containers remain stuck in the freezer. You can put a date on there, so that way, I’m not wondering, “Wait, when did I stick this in there? Was it last month or last year?” So put the labels. And then I do like having either a high-quality blender/food processor. But either I don’t think you really need both. I think for the most part, you can use them interchangeably, but it’s actually for like smoothies and if you like smooth soups, that sort of thing, and pestos and sauces, I just think.

MELISSA: That’s the best investment I ever made on 2013 was the Blendtec and my Crock-Pot. With those two things, I feel really confident. But you can get a coupon for those. And if you hunt around online, Blendtec is a really good product. And also, what’s the other one that’s the high-end?

ALLISON:  So Vitamix.

MELISSA: Vitamix, right.

ALLISON:  And I got mine. I did the refurbished model and I bought that like eight years ago and it’s still going strong.

MELISSA: Yes, I was going to say that. There’s refurbished models that are available. And also, if you hunt around in Costco, you can usually get them at a little bit better price. They’re the new ones there though. But that thing will not wear out on you like the one you get at K-Mart. So it’s really worth the investment for. And I use mine, like you said, for soups. I use it every day for smoothies. And it’s just even you can use it for a whole bunch of other things. And, of course, it does a super, super good job because it’s a professional-grade device, but do go on.

ALLISON:  Yes, so one of the other ones and I kind of hesitate to put this on there, but it’s so much fun and I know it’s really trendy right, the spiralizer? I think especially if you’re doing gluten-free and paleo, it just kind of adds like some fun dishes, so you can modify. What a spiralizer would do, you can put a zucchini in there and it will make noodles out of your zucchini. And you can do it with other vegetables too. So you can do sweet potatoes, or potatoes, and all sorts of veggies and just sort of turn them into noodles. And it’s sort of fun and I think it just kind of adds a little more fun to paleo dishes. And I think it’s $30 or something. So a spiralizer is I think a sort of a fun investment.

MELISSA: Yeah, cool.

ALLISON:  I haven’t thought this over before, but another one that—and I notice some of the people don’t have this—and that’s a zester. And you can also even just get like a fine cheese grater, but I love to use lemon zest or lime zest, or orange zest to add that little like punch of flavor to dishes. And it’s like $10. And you can use it to grate ginger and garlic too.

MELISSA: Yeah, good list. And then I’ll put a link in the show notes there, so a list that Tim Ferriss had when he was doing one of his books which had a great list of things that were very inexpensive. You can them from almost all from Amazon, like a large cast iron skillet, which you can use for tons of stuff, the Rada cutlery chef’s dicer. I’ve used that for about five years, never cut my fingers off yet. And it even has some creative videos online to show you how to actually use that successfully for chopping and cutting and stuff, for people that don’t want to go to knife school but need to know the basics. And he didn’t really know how to cook at all. So it’s helpful what he’s put out there. And he’s got a good list of things, like I said, most of them are under $20 on Amazon so you can get them. And pretty much kind of what you said to, and then one of those really cool peelers as well, I think they’re the Swiss ones. I was trying to think the Star Peeler or something that’s called, I’ll put a link to his list. But those are like I think a dollar for three or something. And I think I’ve still got the three I bought three years ago. But they’re super cool speed peeler, so like for peeling potatoes or carrots or something, they’re really good. Great. So now tell us, before we run out of time, Allison, where can people find you online and your website.

ALLISON:  Yeah, so the website is www.prepdish.com, “P-R-E-P-D-I-S-H” dot com. I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and they’re all either /PrepDish or @PrepDish, so pretty easy to find in all the social media sites. And also, I love to offer the listeners a special deal if they want to give PrepDish a try, if that’s okay?

MELISSA: Yeah, sure.

ALLISON:  Yeah, so you can visit www.prepdish.com/FatToFit. And I think you’ll have the link as well and it will be $4 for the first month of meal plans.

MELISSA: Great. And like I said, when people will go to your site, they’ll see it’s all laid out in the homepage about the subscription, about everything and it’s all there pretty clearly. So they can take a little spin through and see about it. I’m thinking I’m doing it myself. I’m telling you, because I need help, although I’d rather just fly you into California every day.

ALLISON:  I’m telling you, there’s weeks that I’m like picking myself that I haven’t gotten prep for the week. And I’m like, “Darn it. What am I having for dinner tonight?” I need to do my own system.

MELISSA: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, again, it’s just one more step at getting yourself a little bit more organized and a little less chaotic. And if you can get into the routine of doing it. And like I said, I love the way it’s set up with the pictures and stuff. Because like I said, that makes it super easy. You don’t have to get out your reading glasses if you have to wear them and pour through the list and say, “Oh yeah, I forgot to go there.” Like you said, you set it up for your own efficiency. And I think that’s super cool because people are always pressed for time and they want to be able to reclaim those hours and minutes that they’re losing doing other stuff. So I think that’s cool. And like you said, there’s a number of recipes, like you said, over a thousand? Didn’t you say? Something like that.

ALLISON:  Well, it’s a new meal plan each week so we continue to update them moving forward, so yeah.

MELISSA: Yeah, and you’ve also got seasonal stuff. You’ve got back-to-school stuff, treats and stuff on your site. And some fudgesicles. Oh, I like those. All kinds of stuff. Okay. Well, thanks, Allison, so much for coming on the show. And we’ll have you back to talk about more that’s going on in your business as things get growing.

ALLISON:  Yeah, sounds good. Thanks for having me. This was fun.

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