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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Only Five Ingredients You'll Need for Sunday Meal Prep

If you're like me, Sunday meal prep is really hard.

Pinterest makes it look easy to pre-package a dozen meals into a neatly organized set of Tupperware, but when you get down to it on Sunday afternoon, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. How do you know in advance what you’re going to want each day of the week? And when you hit the grocery store to get ingredients for five different meals, it’s easy to rack up a huge bill with too many one-time-use ingredients. Sure, this crostini starter calls for a little goat cheese, but do I really need a whole log of it?

The trick to effective Sunday meal planning is to make the same foods in bulk every Sunday. With the versatility built into these ingredients, you can switch up your lunches and dinners so you don’t have the same thing twice for months. Plus, it takes some of the pressure off the last day of your weekend, so you can still have plenty of time for Sunday Funday.

Quinoa/Farro/Bulgar

Whether you prefer the red, black or the white kind, quinoa is a superfood packed with protein, vitamins and fiber. Same goes for the other types of whole grains, which you can easily find in any grocery store. Boil a few cups of this good stuff with water or chicken stock, fluff it up and refrigerate until you need a quick carb with dinner. You can also make a flavorful and filling quinoa salad with chopped veggies, beans, herbs and cheeses. Try a Mexican-inspired version with black beans and cilantro, or a caprese with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Throw on top of a salad or use as a side dish for the week.

Here's a bulgar salad I threw together last night with avocado, peppers, mozzarella cheese, cucumber and lemon juice. Refreshing on a hot day, and great with some grilled chicken!



Eggs

Eggs get a bad rap for its high level of cholesterol, but the fact is that the health benefits of the egg far outweighs any preconceived heart risk. It’s even been argued that the egg is the most nutritious natural food we have! Hard boil a half dozen on Sunday and slice them up in salads, add them to ramen-style soup or just pack them whole for a quick workday snack. If you’re feeling ambitious, make yourself deviled eggs, or whip up egg salad with olive oil-based mayo or Greek yogurt.

Chickpeas

Even straight out of the can, chickpeas can add flavor and dimension to almost any meal. Add them to chili, cook them up with eggs or fry them in oil ‘til they’re light and crispy. For a quick Sunday prep, try a simple chickpea salad of lemon, olive oil, parsley, parmesan and garlic and use as a salad topper interchangeably with the quinoa. Or blend up a batch of hummus to snack on all week.

Veggies

Peeling, chopping and slicing when you’re in a pinch can feel like an annoying chore, but getting into it on a Sunday afternoon is almost meditative. Ready up your carrots and other snacking veggies for the hummus, wedge potatoes to roast later, and prep your greens with a good rinse and spin. You’ll be more likely to eat your veggies if they’re all sliced and ready to go.

A Whole Chicken

In the wintertime, I love to roast a whole chicken with fennel, carrots and onion. This definitely is not ideal for the summertime, as I think most people would hate to turn the oven on at all, let alone for a long stretch. Instead, grill a bunch of chicken breasts and/or thighs and slice them up to add to salads for the rest of the week.


And there you have it! You can still come up with a ton of different weekday lunch and dinner ideas with these staples. You get to be lazy and creative at the same time!

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