If you’ve been following me for some (any) time, you’ve probably caught on by now that I don’t dine out – or take-out – too frequently. If I had to guess, I’d say I typically purchase a restaurant prepared meal two-to-three times per month. A steep decline in average over the past four years of shaping my lifestyle. It’s not that I have anything against a good ol’ menu meal, I just have created the habit of planning and prepping my food for the week (that’s why you’re here reading this, right?!). And when the weekend rolls ’round, I enjoy cooking-up culinary concoctions that I like to call “fridge clean-out” or “fridge-foraging” meals (keep scrollin’, more on that later). I can’t stand to waste not only the fresh produce I’m privileged to have access to, but the money, time, and energy I spend purchasing and preparing it. Alas, the importance of planning! If I am dining out, I make sure to build it right into my schedule to prevent waste of any kind, and set myself up for success. And apparently, when I do dine out, I do it three times in one week… Sroll on to see how I’m supporting a super social schedule with a week of nutritious eats.
When I first took on a larger role in Mo’s nutrition by preparing his work-week meals, I restructured my planning methodology in such a way that dinner leftovers become the following day’s lunch. However, I soon realized this strategy meant having leftovers locked and loaded from Sunday supper – a time when Mo and I typically eat separate dishes (at the same time huddled around our binge-worthy series of the moment) – or planning a two-portion standalone meal for Monday lunch. It boggled my brain…. until I started shifting the way I viewed my meal plan. I’ve adapted my previous Monday-Sunday grid to a Sunday-Saturday timeframe. Much easier on the noggin. I digress. This week, I took the standalone meal approach, because cravings told me I absolutely wanted a packed plate of Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash Casserole paired with “cheesy” brussels sprouts Sunday evening (check my post soon for my method!).
What’s that standalone meal you ask? Typically, I make use easy-to-portion protein like chicken sausage or shrimp to avoid unnecessary leftovers. This household also happens to have those options stocked in our freezer at a ll times, so it makes for a low-to-no spend meal. This week, I’m bringing back an old fave: my Cauliflower Arancini Bowl! I’ll be prepping a batch with real-deal white rice for Mo, and maintaining that cauliflower for myself.
ICYMI, I ordered Amazon Prime Whole Foods delivery for the first time last week to support myself during a super busy time. It was a great experience and absolutely helped me to maximize my schedule, but I would have made a few minor adjustments such as, picking a larger broccoli crown, a smaller jicama root, and not being forced to purchase 2 lbs of chicken thigh when I only needed ~1.5. This ramble is to tell you that I had an extra pack of chicken thigh in my fridge that wasn’t quite enough for four servings, but too much for two. So, I’m using that easy to portion protein again to make some Grilled Tandoori Shrimp & Chicken Kebobs. I use this recipe for my marinade. I’ll be pairing it with a tahini-dressed roasted salad of kale, cauliflower, red onion and date, tossing on some cucumber, tomato, and feta, and topping it with a lemon-dill dip, and garnishing it all with mint from my herb garden, of course.
One of my top tips to make meal planning simple is keep a list of 3-5 go-to repEAT favorites for each meal, and bring them into circulation when inspiration is lacking, schedules are wonky, or hey, just ’cause! There’s no need to reinvent the flavor wheel each week. So, one of Mo’s most-loved flavors made it’s way onto the menu this week – Egg Roll Bowl. I’ve tried a few variations of this popular better-for-you remake, and this recipeis my personal fave. I’m serving it with a sesame ginger roasted broccoli, snap pea, and carrot medley and perhaps some cauliflower “fried rice“.
This Lemon-Dill Breaky Box has been the soundtrack to my portable breakfast summer. It’s a super-low-almost-assembly-only prep. Here’s how to build yours!
- Prepare your dip (Yields 1 Serving)
- 2/3 cup non-fat, plain greek yogurt (that’s 1 individually packaged cup, or ~150g)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dill
- Optional: shake of salt and garlic powder
Pro-Tip: Mix it right in the individual yogurt container for no clean up!
- Add EGGstra 😉 protein with a perfectly jammy hard boiled egg
- Pro-Tip:For the perfectly jammy egg, bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. AFTER water comes to a boil, carefully add eggs by placing into pot with a spoon and continue to boil for ~7 minutes. Remove the same way, gently with a spoon, and transfer immediately to an ice bath for ~8-10 minutes. Store in-shell in the fridge for 5-7 days. Stressed about cracked eggs? Let them come to room temperature before boiling as an extra precaution if you please.
- Fill it out with veggies
- Sliced mini bell pepper
- Sliced baby cucumber
- Snap peas
- Jicama sticks
- Top it off with some favorable fat
- Smoked salmon
- Nuts of choice
- 1 mini cheese
And for this week’s bonus, I present… the Fridge Clean-Out Meal, also known on the ‘gram as “fridge foraging”. How many times have you stood in front of your fridge, freezer, and pantry and sighed, **I have nothing to eat** only to then order something less-than-nutritious on speed-dial? Chances are, between leftover prep or unused produce and your kitchen stock, you have a ton of options waiting to be paired together, you just need a little creativity!
- Start with the base. I’ve always got these things stocked:
- Fridge: surplus salad greens
- Freezer: cauliflower rice
- Freezer: cauliflower pizza crust
- Pantry: go-to grains or legumes
- Pick the protein. At any moment, you can find these items in my kitchen:
- Fridge: eggs – quick and easy!
- Fridge: greek yogurt
- Freezer: chicken sausage, shrimp, fish
- Pantry: canned tuna, canned salmon
- Identify the toppings. I typically find something like this during a forage:
- Fridge: leftover veggies – even if they look like they’re on their last leg – you won’t notice after a proper roast!
- Fridge: surplus fruitFridge: cheese!
- Freezer: frozen veggies, frozen fruit
- Pantry: nuts and seeds/nut and seed butters
- Determine the flavor profile. I always have one of these to choose from on the shelves:
- Fridge: marinara, dressings, fave sauces
- Freezer: herb cubes, ginger cubes
Here’s a look at how it’s all coming together in my plan: