Meal Prep Hack

As a busy mom, my meal planning and prepping is constantly evolving. I find that it’s hard to prep too many days of the same meal at one time because I like variety in my meals. I’ve also spent whole Sundays cooking food for the week and then ended up making a frozen pizza for dinner because I’m so over being in the kitchen. What’s a girl to do?

For this week’s meal prep, I used three recipes to make enough food to both feed my family for Sunday dinner and prep four lunches for the week – two for me and two for my husband. Combined with a couple of salads and one meal out during the week, these meals will get us through the workweek eating healthy.

First, I prepped my sweet potatoes by dicing them into chunks about 1/2″ wide, then tossing them in vegetable oil and salt. I roasted them in a 450-degree oven while I went to work prepping my proteins. I cut a pound of chicken breasts into about 1″ chunks then tossed in oil and cajun seasoning before arranging them in one layer in a glass baking dish. Next, I peeled a pound of shrimp and placed them in one layer into a different glass baking dish, then drizzled with oil and topped with salt and pepper. I popped the two baking dishes into the oven and grabbed a couple heads of broccoli. I chopped the broccoli florets into small pieces, drizzled with some oil and sprinkles with salt and pepper, then into the oven they went!

While everything was cooking in the oven, I sliced my leftover broccoli stalks and made a quick slaw with some diced almonds, chopped grapes, 1/4 cup of mayo and 2 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar.  I put a package of Green Giant zucchini noodles in the microwave to cook, then mixed up my sauce for the shrimp and zucchini noodles – 2 tbsp. mayo and 1 tsp. diced chipotle peppers in adobo.

Once everything was cooked, I packed up four lunch containers with a little bit of everything in each, then we enjoyed a delicious dinner from everything that was cooked. The kids enjoyed the cajun chicken, roasted sweet potatoes and the shrimp and zucchini noodles (they aren’t big on green vegetables – more roasted broccoli for us grownups!).

 

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Shrimp and Green Bean Skillet

With three kids, a husband and a full-time job, finding quick and easy dinner recipes is super important. I’ve found the quickest options include frozen or pre-packaged items. My go-to’s are store brand organic frozen veggies. For this skillet, you’ll need a pound of raw frozen shrimp, a package of frozen green beans, some oil or butter, a medium onion, a clove of garlic, salt, pepper and your favorite hot sauce (mine is Cholula!).

Thaw out your shrimp – I usually do this by running warm water into the bag and letting it sit for about five minutes, then draining and repeating until all shrimp are thawed. Remove shells and tails and set your shrimp aside. Cook a package of frozen green beans in the microwave according to the package directions. Put 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil or butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then dice half of a small onion and one or two cloves of garlic.  Sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and let the onions and garlic cook down for a few minutes. Add your shrimp and season with some more salt, pepper and a few dashes of hot sauce. Cook the shrimp for a few minutes on one side, then flip them over to finish cooking. Add your cooked green beans in for just enough time to coat them with seasoning and sauce, then plate and serve! Yum.

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Quick, Healthy Breakfast

I’m always looking for quick, easy, meal-prep options that are also healthy. For a while, my go-to breakfast was some egg whites, salsa and cheese nuked for about a minute and a half in the microwave to cook the eggs. Then I discovered Green Giant’s veggie spirals, especially the zucchini spirals. The quick-cook package makes meal prepping for the week quick and easy. I can just throw the package in the microwave to cook the veggie spirals from frozen, then divide the package contents across a 12-cup muffin tray.  Drop in some onions, cheese, fill the cups about 2/3 of the way with egg whites, then top with salt, pepper and any herbs I want and it’s a quick cook in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees for a batch of yummy, healthy mini veggie frittatas.

Once the mini frittatas have cooled, you can drop two at a time into plastic bags and store in the freezer. It’s easy for my husband and I to each grab a bag of these to take to work and warm up in the microwave. Voila – the problem of how to enjoy a quick, healthy breakfast is solved!

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Homemade Pizzas

With five people in our house who all have different tastes, making a meal everyone can customize makes feeding a crowd easier. I use my bread machine to whip up a big batch of pizza dough and from there I can make large pizzas, individual-size pizzas and breadsticks. Everyone can pick their own toppings, from pizza sauce and plenty of cheese to meats, veggies and more.

Ingredients:

2 tsp. dry yeast

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup plus 2 tbsp. warm water

Place ingredients into the bread machine in the order they’re listed above. Run them on the dough cycle. Remove dough and store in a bowl or plastic bag drizzled with olive oil. Stretch the dough out thin onto a baking sheet and top with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings!

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Quick and Easy Southwestern Chicken and Veggie Skillet

This delicious and easy-to-make dish is perfect for the whole family. You can serve it with some Mexican or Spanish rice, or just a loaf of crusty bread. It was a great excuse for me to use my mandoline slicer too.

Heat 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Dice two cloves of garlic and add them, plus salt and pepper to taste and 2 tbsp. of powdered Mexican or Southwestern seasoning mix to the pan. Dice a pound of chicken breast and cook it in the skillet until brown, then add a drained can of corn, 2 to 3 zucchinis, sliced thin, one small green pepper and one small red pepper, sliced. Cook the skillet, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are cooked and everything has soaked in all the seasoning.

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Quick Southwestern Chicken and Veggie Skillet

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, diced

dash salt

dash pepper

2 tbsp. powdered Mexican or Southwestern seasoning

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into small chunks

1 can corn

2-3 zucchinis

1 small green pepper

1 small red pepper

Preparation:

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced garlic, salt, pepper and powdered Mexican or Southwestern seasoning and mix, then add the chicken breast. Cook the chicken until brown, then add the corn, zucchini, green and red pepper. Cook the whole skillet until all vegetables have cooked through and soaked up the seasoning. Serve with Mexican or Southwestern rice or some crusty bread.

Cooking with Kids – Super Bowl Lunch

My six year-old son loves cooking with me, so much that he has an Easy Bake oven and his own cooking set given to him for Christmas by his aunt and uncle. When I told him I was going to make some tomato soup from scratch for lunch on this #SuperBowlSunday, he couldn’t wait to help.

An easy recipe like soup is perfect for kids who want to help cook. I diced all the veggies and he helped pour everything into the pot and stir it. He loved using his measuring cups and spoons, and he was great at stirring it to keep it from burning or sticking to the pot. I got to try out my new immersion blender to blend it up until it was smooth and creamy, and he picked the accompaniments: saltine crackers and some Annie’s White Cheddar Bunnies.

Quick and Creamy Tomato Soup from Scratch

2 tbsp. canola oil

1/2 a medium onion, diced

1 medium garlic clove, diced

2 tbsp. flour

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste

3 cups vegetable broth

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp. Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and saute for another minute to let the garlic soften, then sprinkle the flour over the mixture and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and broth. Stir.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
  5. Add Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir.
  6. Remove from heat. Puree the soup with an immersion blender, or use a food processor or blender. Return to the pot.
  7. Add the Greek yogurt and whisk.
  8. Serve with cheese and your choice of crackers. Enjoy!

Warming Winter Tea

This quick blend will transform your tea into a winter-spiced pot of comfort. Slice an orange in half and squeeze a bit of the juice into your teapot. Dice the remaining pieces and drop them into the pot. Add in two tablespoons of star anise, a couple of cinnamon sticks and two tablespoons of grated fresh ginger. Steep the mix along with a pot of black tea and enjoy this delicious, winter-spiced tea!