Friday, September 28, 2018

Healthy Recipes & Efficient Meal Prep

Greetings faithful blog readers, 

When we first came home with Willa, I secretly worried that we'd never have time to cook again; Brendan and I both find that eating the majority of our meals at home is key to staying healthy, and cooking has always been something that we enjoy. We both were concerned that we would rely more on the processed easy go-tos (veggie nuggets, boxed mac and cheese, frozen pizza), and that isn't something we want to do every weeknight. With less time, we've adopted three new strategies for weeknight dinners: meal planning, weekend prepping, and recipe doubling. 

Meal Planning isn't a new concept to many of you, but it is for us. We make a big grocery list and shop over the weekend where we decide the plan for the whole week. In the plan, we include leftover nights, which we plan to coincide with busier evenings (like this past Tuesday when Brendan had to be at a lecture and parent's night for Willa's school) or evenings we know we just won't have the energy. We're typically cooking four nights a week. 

Four nights a week would be a lot for us if each meal was taking an hour plus to prepare, but that's where our second strategy comes in. Once we're home from the store, I typically take care of Willa while Brendan goes on a marathon prepping binge (think slicing, dicing, making dressings, etc). It takes a few hours, but since it's the weekend, there's no stress and prepping can be done at a casual pace. I can put Willa in her carrier and do any activities that don't involve knives like putting food into containers and labeling them. This also creates less to wash during the week (and since I'm on dish duty, that gets three cheers from me!) 

Our third strategy is if we think a recipe will freeze particularly well, we double it to eat half and freeze half. Our frozen stash is for later this semester when we enter survival mode. If we add one meal to the freezer stash a week, it adds up. 

Here are recipes we've recently added to our repertoire. Thanks to Brendan for cooking these delightful meals; I'm adding in his notes. We hope this is useful to you and your family too. 

Farro Breakfast Bowl (we ate this for dinner). This was perhaps my favorite recipe we've made recently. Brendan added some grilled tomatoes and sauteed kale. Soft boiled eggs are my jam and make any dinner memorable. Plus avocado is on my love list. 

Sweet Potato Peanut Soup. This recipe was my find, and I'm so glad we discovered it. It was perfect for a cold rainy Wednesday, and it made leftovers for a second dinner plus three lunch size portions. 

Fire Roasted Eggplant Dal. Lentils have never tasted so good. Brendan added both kale and spinach, extra cayenne pepper, and extra curry powder. HEB sells the naan bread, and we topped it with plain greek yogurt. Yum in a bowl. This made leftovers for a second dinner.

From the inspiralized cookbook, this Beet Rice Superfood Bowl is delightful. It tastes so fresh and the uncooked beets were actually delicious, which surprised us. Hint: recipe says it makes 3-4 servings, but we ate the entire bowl just the two of us.

This Hot and Sour Seared Tofu with Sugar Snap Peas (note: may need to be a NYT subscriber for this link to work) was for dinner last night, and it was absolutely delicious (this and the Farro Breakfast Bowl were my two favorites). Brendan added bell pepper and carrots (hint: buy matchstick carrots and save yourself time). If you don't want to subscribe, our recipe for basil lime stir fry tastes similar. The saddest part was that it didn't make enough for leftovers.

Skillet Ratatouille. This was the night that Brendan decided to bake his own loaf of bread using this No Knead Bread Recipe. He says the process takes 24 hours, but most of the time the dough is just sitting. Both the bread and the Ratatouille were excellent...this felt like the perfect end of summer/beginning of fall dish. We got another dinner and a couple of lunches out of these leftovers.

Not pictured:

Broccoli, Cheddar, and Brown Rice Cakes. These are different but good. My favorite part about them was leftovers that are already perfectly portioned for lunches.

Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad: These were wonderful. Sadly, they were so wonderful that we didn't have leftovers (it says it serves 4, but not in our experience!)

Now that the weekend is here, it's time to rest up, stock up on groceries, and prepare for another week ahead. Our last tip is that Saturday night is an awesome time for grocery shopping...where is everyone else?!

In other news: tonight, I tried Yoga Nidra for the first time, and I'm already a true believer. It was so relaxing. I felt like I was asleep, but I wasn't. If you like meditation, I highly recommend giving this a try. I made it to 10 workouts this month, and I hope to squeeze in another yoga class tomorrow morning. I'm wearing jeans that button again, but I'm still eating almost nightly ice cream. It's about balance, people.

Brendan and I are going to continue with our new Netflix obsession: Maniac. We hope everyone has a great weekend and cooks something scrumptious. Tell us what's on your menu. Let's recipe share!


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