Based on this discussion: LINK to Tenkar's Tavern
I don't prep. I roll encounter dice and read 3s as evidence of activity if someone is tracking, 2s as obvious recent activity or tracks (what have you), and 1s as encounter events.
Next, I grab my Koplow dice, now dubbed Quisitor dice, comprised of a Greater Than/Less Than die and a Likelihood die, roll them together and determine if something actually happens.
After I know something happens, I roll two colour dice (red through violet) and use that to stimulate my imagination/understanding of the situation, taking terrain, time of day, season, etc. into account.
If the Quisitors give me a high likelihood of an event, and the colour dice suggest it is hostile, I then roll critter dice (again, Koplow), to impromptu create a type of thing to be encountered, doing away with the need for monster lists.
Then to determine strength of encounter, I roll a d20 or something that makes sense for circumstances, then in the ten seconds or so this process took, I ask the players to roll perception or initiative, etc. to then describe the results.