The value of prep !

As many of my friends know, I am now cooking almost exclusively the OPOS way. OPOS (One Pot One Shot) is this revolutionary way of cooking that has been developed by Rama Krishnan (of the one-page cookbook fame) which ensures that making food is not a drudgery and you can actually eat fresh, healthy, home cooked food everyday that is made in minutes and tastes awesome. It has also opened up all the world cuisines for one to try because, once you understand the logic you can OPOS anything. Today I made Thai Green Curry at home for the first time and probably we have eaten genuine vegetarian Thai Curry for the first time too, without the shrimp paste. I didn’t have a few ingredients so the taste was 90% authentic and Ganesh and Nivedita came home for a quick visit and they tasted it too. Their feedback was similar – very close to the authentic taste.

A few days back we had the ShikshaDaan advisory council meeting at home and I cooked up an OPOS lunch – I made Brinji, Mani Kozhukattai, Sambar, Malabar Khatta Salna (sour curry) and Bhapa Doi for dessert. All of these are things that I learnt in the OPOS school (FB page, not brick and mortar) – I didn’t know any of these items before OPOS except Sambar and it would have taken me ages to make them.

Besides the fun of cooking amazing fare really quickly, the biggest lesson that OPOS teaches is the value of preparation. I am an extremely organized person, at home and at work. My kitchen or my wardrobe is as organized as my desk is at work. In OPOS we keep certain mother sauces ready at all times – tamarind paste, cooking dal, caramelised onions, Ginger-garlic paste, bottled tadka etc and these come in so handy ! A Biriyani can be made in under 10 minutes, check this video out – But – there is the discipline of preparation that allows you to cook something as exotic as Biriyani in under 10 minutes. If you don’t soak the rice beforehand, and add more water, the Biriyani will turn sticky… if you didn’t get the vegetables cut earlier, it will take longer to complete the entire process. 

How do you prepare for work? or if you are a student, for your exams? Is there a list of things that you need to accomplish and a prioritization on what needs to get done today and what can be done tomorrow? The old fashioned to-do list just adds to the stress as it keeps growing longer and the more things you don’t accomplish, your stress levels go up significantly. The other challenge is, its uni-dimensional. In many of the coaching conversations that I have, this is a recurrent theme – how do I manage time better, how do I have some work-life balance, how do I pursue my hobbies while still working full-time etc etc. Just a one word answer – preparation.

An easy way to do this is to make a list of all things that are important to you – work related, family related, learning related. Prioritise them together, not work separately and life separately, but together and then allocate time during the day. Do not have more than two or three things that you want to accomplish on a given day – and don’t prioritize useless stuff like emails or social media updates.

  • Emails and social media updates just eat up all your time – keep an hour in the morning, 30 minutes in the afternoon and maybe an hour in the evening to respond to anything important.
  • “For your information” emails are usually for covering somebody’s body part that may get flogged if it appears they are responsible – don’t help by acknowledging these types of emails.
  • And certainly don’t spend time on any email longer than five lines – either the person writing them has too much time or doesn’t know what he/she wants to accomplish.
  • Your Facebook status is not a priority nor is that Tweet about a movie.
  • Television guzzles valuable time and seeing the same news item 50 times won’t make you a better person. Remember Television is also known as the idiot box.
  • Keep the priority list in front of you and ensure the top 2 or 3 get done.
  • If there are meetings the next day, prep atleast a day in advance – check if you have all the relevant information for that meeting.
  • Travel needs lots of prep – within a city figure out how much time is needed to reach the destination and add 10 to 15% more time than what it usually takes for any kind of surprises. Call ahead and ask for directions if its a new place – Google maps may take you around in circles :).
  • Exercising is the ultimate form of preparation for aging – spend time on it so you can spend your later years “enjoying” rather than on a sick bed.

I can go on – but I guess you get the drift. Forewarned is forearmed. So prepare for what you know is coming your way and that leaves ample time to deal with the unexpected.

Preparation is invaluable….


All prepped for the long weekend ? :):)

5 thoughts on “The value of prep !”

  1. Hi I loved the article on preparation so much … inspite of writing down and organising it’s possible to drift off due to unexpected exigencies sometimes… but discipline and passion sure drives us to make it possible …. nice reading your write ups … and great inspiration as well… I started writing after reading some of your writings… 👍


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