Ever hear of the Cook Once, Eat Twice theory? Well I’m taking it up a notch. Let’s try Cook Once, Eat Five Times! When dealing with everyday anxieties, being prepared helps reduce our daily stress level. A small step we can make toward fixing this, is through meal prepping.
Inevitably the question of “What’s for dinner?” comes up Every. Single. Day. It shouldn’t be a surprise but yet, very few people plan ahead to make sure they have quality, home-cooked food in their fridge waiting for them at the end of their day. How great would it feel to come home from work and food is already waiting for you in the fridge?
Maybe you’re not ready to do a full meal plan and decide everything on your menu each week. Advance meal prepping a few key ingredients is a great way to ease into this process and have your staples ready to go each night. No more stress when you are ready to cook dinner.
An easy way to get your feet wet with meal prepping is the cook once, eat five times method. After you’ve grocery shopped for the week, dedicate an hour to prepping some key foods that can see you through the next several days. It will save you hours over the course of the week or, better yet, save you from ordering that easy take out. If you are short on time, this is something that can be done together with the kids or your partner. You’d be surprised how willing they might be to help, if you just ask. The more engaged everyone is in the kitchen, the more on board they will be to eat the foods you are serving.
First, make a large portion of two types of whole grains – personally, I like rice and quinoa because they are versatile and go with lots of different flavors. Get them started on the stove by following directions on the package.
It’s easy to skip making the veggies a priority at dinner when they aren’t everyone’s favorite part of the meal. They are so important to include in our daily diet and by pre-making them you can add at least 2-3 servings of veggies into your meal with very little effort. Your body will thank you!
So while the grains are cooking on the stove, select 3-4 of your favorite veggies. I like to select from red pepper, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash and red onion. Go for what's in season for great flavor or, more importantly, what you actually like. When figuring out how much to make, consider how many people could be eating them and how many meals you’d like it to cover. I say shoot for it to cover 5 meals - lunches, dinners, and maybe even a breakfast! I love substituting my oatmeal with some quinoa for an apple, cinnamon porridge.
Set the oven to 350 degrees. While its heating up, cut up all of the veggies and put them together on a cookie sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive or grapeseed oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Pop the tray into the oven for 20 minutes and then check on the tenderness of the veggies. Again, everyone has their own preference on how soft/firm they like them, so poke them with a fork and decide what works for you.
When everything is finished cooking, pop each whole grain into their own container and your veggie combo into another. I like to store in glass or clear containers so I can see what looks good to me when I open fridge.
With all that complete, now at dinner time, all you need to prepare is your protein of choice - grill some chicken, steak or shrimp, bake some salmon, or cook some beans etc… Reheat and add your grains and veggies to your plate and dinner is served. When serving the meal you can add so many different seasonings and sauces, it is a completely different flavor each time.