Going back to work after taking almost a year-long break feels great. However, I knew I had to come up with a strategy that would still ensure that we all eat some good quality, home cooked food. For instance, my kids are not fans of school cafeteria food and prefer home packed lunches. I, myself would always rather eat a dish I prepared then a restaurant or cafeteria meal (unless we are talking about a really nice restaurant). Not only is it usually more healthy, but it also saves some $$$. I have started doing some food prep on Sunday afternoons to make sure some basics are covered and to facilitate busy work week dinner cooking. I wanted to share some of the ideas that have worked for us for the past month.
1. I always cook a batch of rice or quinoa. I usually do 1,5 cups of brown rice or the same quantity of quinoa. This way I could make a quick dinner if I saute some red onion and garlic and add capers or sun-dried tomatoes and then finally add some rice and spices to dress the batch of plain rice and warm it up for dinner. Both keep well in the fridge for few days.
2. I also oven roast about three whole chicken breasts. I finally found a recipe which ensures that the chicken breasts remain juicy and moist for few days and that way I can easily throw diced pieces in kids’ burritos or on the top of my salad. I heat the over to 400F (220C). I also make my special roasted chicken spice (mix 1 tbs of paprika, 1 tbs of onion powder and 1 tbs of garlic powder + S&P) which I rub into the chicken with some olive oil.
Lemon rounds go on the top! Then comes the most important step: laying a piece of parchment (cookie sheet) paper on the top of the chicken and tucking it in around the edges. This creates a pouch which enables cooking that helps the meat retain the moisture and not dry out. After about 30-35 minutes, chicken is done.
3. I boil 3-4 eggs which I add to salads or eat for breakfast which some avocado toast.
4. I stock up on fresh salad veggies: one large bag of pre-washed baby spinach and 1 large bag of pre-washed salad mix. We like to make salads with fresh cabbage – both green and red. Radishes are not only crisp but also colorful. We are fans. I also peel some carrots and have peppers or cucumbers ready. This way it is easy to shred some cabbage and add lettuce and other veggies and nuts and then keep a bottle of store-bought vinaigrette/salad dressing at work which makes assembling a salad super easy. I keep diced chicken in a separate plastic container and then add to the salad and mix all.
By the end of the week, when we run out of chicken, I like to have some canned tuna in olive oil handy for adding to salads. Sometimes I add olives, or oven-roast some extra firm tofu for a change.
5. When I feel super energetic, I make a veggie soup (tonight I made leek, zucchini and broccoli soup) which also keeps for couple of days and is a great after-school snack for kids. Once it starts getting colder, we eat lots of simple veggie soups.
6. We love chili or some kind of veggie stew. This one tonight I made with onion, garlic, green pepper, beans, corn and some canned plum tomatoes-always with tones of cumin, paprika, oregano and turmeric. These stews keep well in the fridge and are great over rice or added to the burrito with chicken (a package of whole weat large tortillas can be found in our fridge always). You can make them with veggies on hand, like carrots or pumkin…or you can try this recipe I posted earlier.
5. Finally, I try to bake a breakfast food like banana bread, or this simple breakfast loaf with cherries. which kids eat in the morning for breakfast, on its own or with some nut butter.
This process takes about 2 hours, with all the slicing, baking and peeling. I think it is worth it as it gets us through a busy week with a (mostly) healthy diet, won’t break the bank and might even give us some extra free time in the evening. Hope you get some new ideas and wish you all a great week!