This weekend I got a little crazy in the kitchen. I ended up filling my fridge to the rafters with healthy lunches, dinners, and snacks for the coming week. I even managed to stock my freezer with some wonderful meals. But before you get overwhelmed thinking that meal prep involves producing vast quantities of food every weekend, please take a deep breath.
This weekend was a particularly hardcore food prep weekend for me. It won’t always look like this. And frankly, anything you can do at the weekend to prepare food for the week ahead is fantastic, even if it is just chopping some vegetables. Simply set aside as much time as you can afford, put on some relaxing music, and prepare as much food as you comfortably can in that time. Anything is better than nothing, right? Here is what I managed this week:
1. Cheese sauce
Believe it or not, it is actually pretty easy to make cheese sauce from scratch. I like to make a big batch. That way I can freeze it in portions ready to be used for mac and cheese, cauliflower cheese, lasagna, or any other recipe that calls for a simple cheese sauce. You can also use it to make vegetables more appealing to selective eaters.
2. Brown rice
Having a tub of pre-cooked brown rice in the fridge is great for when you want to add some whole grains to your salad or your dinner plate. I made this particular batch to put in freezer burritos (recipe coming soon). Just put one cup of short grain brown rice with two cups of water into a pan with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring it to the boil, then cover and turn it down to a simmer for 35 minutes. To make it fancy, you can add 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, and the juice of half a lime once it is cooked. Delicious!
3. Banana avocado mini muffins
Whole wheat mini muffins are an excellent food to have around for fast breakfasts and healthy school/work snacks. This batch will go right in my freezer. Then I can pop them into lunch boxes in the morning, and they will be defrosted by the time recess rolls around.
4. Cilantro cauliflower rice salad
Cauliflower rice is all the rage at the moment. At first I was not sold on the idea. But then my good friend and fellow future Dietitian, Alyssa, turned me on to this amazingly fresh flavored salad. The recipe will be making an appearance soon.
5. Vegetable Burrito Mix
I recently started making freezer burritos. They are genius. One batch makes 8 burritos, which means there are a lot of last minute, healthy meals hanging out in my freezer. You can use any filling you like. I make a black bean and corn vegetable burrito mix with homemade taco seasoning. I then add some brown rice, salsa, and a little grated cheese to a whole wheat tortilla. I wrap them in foil, pop them in the freezer, and dinner is ready for those extra busy days when I have no food plan.
I have a weakness for crunchy, salty snacks. This week, I pre-empted my desire by making a batch of these healthy, delicious turmeric roasted garbanzo beans. They are perfect for satisfying the need for something crunchy that hits every afternoon at work.
7. Pasta Salad
Whole wheat pasta salad is a wonderful thing to have in the fridge. You can take it to work for lunch, or eat it as a side with leftovers or a green salad. This salad has oven dried tomatoes, fresh basil, gorgonzola, and toasted pine nuts.
8. Meatballs in marinara sauce
Meatballs are easy to make and freeze really well. I make a simple homemade marinara sauce, but you can also use a bought version.
9. Cut fruit and vegetables
Having fruits and vegetables washed, peeled, chopped, and ready to eat is a fantastic way to increase your intake of fresh produce. If it is visible and ready to eat, you are far more likely to chose it as a snack. This week I chose pineapple and carrots to prep.
Last week I made a double batch of the sauce from this recipe. This week I made a double batch of the zucchini kofta balls. Now I have a meal in the fridge, and a second in the freezer.
Did you do any meal prep this week? If so, I would love to hear about it in the comments.