As with most exercise and sport training, it is a good idea to start with a plan rather than to dive right in unprepared. Although you won’t be concerned with purchasing properly fitting sport equipment, you will need to evaluate the organization of your kitchen, pantry, and cupboards; learn the layout of your favorite food store;and get in the habit of making a weekly game plan.Organize the Pantry Louis Parrish, a general medicine practitioner who promotes cooking as therapy, says, “If you can organize your kitchen, you can organize your life.”
This is especially true for the vegetarian athlete. It may take an entire weekend, but it is definitely worth the effort. If your pantry is organized and well stocked you can easily find the ingredients needed for quick meal preparation.Start by taking everything out of the cupboards and putting things back so that they are easy to see and reach and fit logically into the flow of how you cook and eat in the kitchen. Oh, and while you’re at it, toss out those spices and ingredients you have held onto for years.
Think Ergonomics Athletes are well aware of ergonomics in their own sport but not necessarily in their kitchen. Cyclists are trained to cut corners closely during criterium races, and team athletes intuitively know the shortest path to take to the ball or the opponent. Apply this same type of thinking to your kitchen. Before putting things back into your cupboard, think about where in the kitchen you cook,where you clean up, and where you eat—the three principal work centers in the kitchen.
Ideally, your cooking or food-preparation center should be close to the stove, have adequate counter space for chopping and mixing, and be close to the sink and refrigerator. The most-used items—pots and pans, mixing bowls,spices, and cooking utensils—should be stored in the cooking and prep area so that you do not have to do intervals across your kitchen during food preparation.Ideally, the storage pantry should be close to the work area, but because this is not always possible, you should stock it with the foods and ingredients you use least often during day-to-day food preparation.
These might include items such as flour, cornmeal, dried beans, dried fruit, and snack foods.If you are not sure how to come up with a plan, try thinking about the way yourcoach comes up with playing strategies. It may help to diagram things and trace the path you would walk during dinner preparation. Also, consider the clean-up and serving areas. Cleaning supplies and the dish drainer should be close to the sink; silverware, plates, and glasses should be close to the table. If you have to walk across the kitchen to get a spatula or spices while prepping foods, they’re not stored in the most ergonomic spot.
If your kitchen is not ideally laid out and you cannot devise “the perfect plan,” your goal then should be to come up with the most logical plan. For example, if your sink, refrigerator, and pantry are not close to the prep area, then your plan could be to wash all the vegetables and place them in the prep area by the stove, then gather everything from the pantry and refrigerator and put them in the prep area. Right now we live in an old Victorian style house and my storage pantry is down some stairs. Although I sometimes welcome the idea of an extra stair workout, I have to be organized if I want to prepare dinner in a timely manner. Luckily, my sink, stove, and chopping block form a nice triangle close to the refrigerator.