We have all heard that old saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” It really is true when it comes to eating a healthy diet. When you no longer rely on processed foods it does require some prep and cooking ahead so you always have something to make a meal from. At first it might seem a little daunting but once you make the mental shift and create a strategy it all starts to seem so simple. Our meals these days are much easier and I actually spend less time preparing meals which frees me up to do other things that are a lot more fun. Like bike riding, hiking and reading books! Food is no longer used as entertainment around here but rather as fuel for our bodies. That doesn’t mean we don’t like good food anymore – quite the contrary – we actually enjoy our food more than ever before. Today I share with you a food prep day from earlier this week.
At least once a week I bake up a sheet pan full of a variety of potatoes. This week it was Organic Yukon Gold potatoes, organic sweet potatoes, organic Japanese Sweet Potatoes and organic russets. Just pop them into a 400 degree pre-heated oven for an hour then pull out baking sheet and remove the smaller potatoes that are done. The larger potatoes usually take about 20 – 30 more minutes. When they have cooled completely they get placed in containers for the fridge. These can be eaten all week long. We will top some of them with plant based stew, soup or chili. Some will be made into oven fries using the Jeff Novick method. Just slice any of them including the sweet potatoes into wedges, season with no salt seasoning. Place on a baking sheet and broil until golden brown. Delicious! Slices of potato are wonderful dipped into hummus. The sweet potatoes make a lovely sweet dessert either cold or slightly warm sprinkled with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. While the potatoes are cooking I work on other food prep.
Costco sells these large bags of fresh green beans that are already trimmed and ready to cook. I think it’s about 2 pounds and we can go through them in just a few days. I usually just boil some water in my large skillet and toss in the green beans, set the timer for 6 minutes. When the time goes off I drain the green beans and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain them again and put them in a container for the fridge. They can be gently reheated later as a side dish. They can be cut and tossed into salads or “hippie bowls,” eaten as is for snacks plain or dipped in salad dressing or hummus. They make a great movie snack! Perfect to add to soups or stir fries.
At least twice a week I make a double batch of Chef AJ’s Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts. They are to die for! Seriously addictive and habit forming! They are incredible hot or cold – I could make a meal out of them but I usually eat them as a side dish. You can watch a Chef AJ Video here and see the recipe. Add these to a plate of BBQ Lentil Muffins and a baked potato for a fabulous meal that is company worthy.
On this particular food prep day instead of a soup, stew or chili I opted to make Dreena Burton’s Corn Chowder Quinoa Casserole. It fills a 9 x 13 pan so we get a few meals out of it. Just omit the oil and salt. You can use more broth and less almond milk if you wish. This is from the “Let Them Eat Vegan” cookbook which is one of my favorite plant based cookbooks. You can also view the recipe here.
Rutabagas are very similar to potatoes but not as starchy. I love the flavor and just look at that color! Peel them and steam or boil them. Serve as a side dish like you would potatoes. They are also very tasty mashed. This was two big rutabagas.
The fresh organic strawberries from the Farmer’s Market were rinsed and sliced, watermelon was cubed and these are the prepped green beans ready for the fridge. I have found that if I prep the fruit in advance it gets eaten more readily than if it just stored in the fridge left whole.
Since I had to chop some onion for the casserole I went ahead and chopped the whole onion so it’s ready to be used later in the week in other recipes. Organic celery was washed and cut so we can use it for recipes or as dippers for hummus.
Here is photo collage so you can see it all together. This took about 2 hours but I was chatting with my family while I worked so the time flew by. Just look at all the amazing healthy food that is ready to eat!
Here it is all stored in containers and ready for the fridge. The see through containers are nice because you can easily see at a glance what you have ready to eat.
In addition to these items, the day before I made some some salad dressing ahead for the week. I always put some in a little jar that I can just grab and take with me in case we decided to eat a salad at Whole Foods or a local restaurant. If you are in the Chef AJ Ultimate Weight Loss Facebook group this is Wendy’s Light Balsamic dressing that is in the files on the group page. Or you might like my Creamy Balsamic Dressing that is no oil.
A double batch of this Curry Split Pea Soup that I made earlier this week has been feeding us as well. We have enjoyed it over baked potatoes or with a rice medley added to it for a different texture and flavor. Its a Lorna Sass recipe and you can print it here. I have also made this recipe with yellow split peas and I always up the spices!
We have also been enjoying Sharon McRae’s Pizza Hummus this week with veggie dippers. You can see Sharon’s recipe here.
To help cut down on time spent in the kitchen I often double recipes and freeze them in 2 serving portions. I always have at least half a dozen soups frozen that we can thaw out for an easy meal. They can be served over rice, quinoa, baked potatoes or a bed of greens to make them more filling. Add a bowl of fresh fruit and you have an awesome meal.
Making a double batch of bean burgers, loaves or BBQ Lentil Muffins really doesn’t take any more time than making a single recipe. Then once cooled they can be individually wrapped and frozen. Check out my favorite bean burger recipes here. With the addition of oven fries a salad or some other type of veggies you have a quick and easy meal in minutes.
When I make a big container of brown rice or quinoa once it has cooled I put it into freezer bags in 2 cup serving sizes. Then when I need some I pull out a bag or two and it thaws quickly on the counter or in the microwave.
I buy the pre-washed organic spinach and baby greens and that is such a time saver. When I get home from the store or Farmers Market with my little salad tomatoes, fresh herbs and such I like to go ahead and wash them, lay them out on towels to dry so they are ready to use. It saves me time later when I might be rushed.
Once you get the hang of it this way of cooking and eating is so simple and easy.
To your healthy eating!
Please feel free to share with me your food prep hints and tips. I am always looking for ways to make things easier and free up time in the kitchen.