What's for Dinner? Weekday Meal Planning 101

Gorgeous recipes are great for inspiration. However, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out what to pair with that recipe. Putting a whole meal together, especially when hurriedly feeding a family can be seriously humbling. I'll admit, I've been caught more than once getting a little too frantic with my hair falling out, grease stains on my shirt, and dirty dishes covering every kitchen surface. Not exactly a relaxing, nourishing experience. 

That's why taking the time on the weekends (or whenever works for your schedule) to prepare ourselves for a nourishing week is key. 

Ready for the secret to fit healthy eating into a busy lifestyle?

BATCH COOK! 

This means making batches of staples (think grains, beans, roasted veggies) large enough to last the week and ready-to-use for healthy, satisfying meals on the fly. 

3 EASY steps to prep for the week:

1. Cook at least two large pots of grains and beans/legumes such as quinoa, brown rice, and/or lentils. 

Made too much? No problem! Throw extras in the freezer in portioned out baggies and thaw as needed.

2. Stock up on washed, ready-to-go salad greens (I like baby kale and Power Greens from Trader Joe's), as well as a variety of colorful, prepped veggies that can be enjoyed raw, such as bell peppers and peas (again, Trader Joe's has a great selection). Toss a big batch of veggies (think beets, sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, garlic, and/or onion) with olive oil & salt and then grill or roast (~400°F for ~30min). They taste AMAZING leftover and mixed in salads, plus they last the week!  

Note: Equip yourself to eat healthfully by having what you need on hand, even if it means a few veggies go bad! You won't make any children in Africa to go hungry! 

3. Stock the fridge, freezer and pantry with lean proteins such as pre-cooked chicken breasts, canned tuna, salmon fillets, black bean burgers, canned beans, or frozen edamame. 

Ok, you spent a 1-2 hours on Sunday planning, shopping, and prepping. Now, it's Wednesday night at 7 p.m., you're just getting home from work, its been a long day and you're starving. Who feels like cooking? No worries - You got this! 

Start with a big serving of greens & veggies (remember- they're already washed & prepped!), add a scoop of whole grains and/or beans (again, they're pre-cooked or canned). Lean protein such as grilled chicken or a can of tuna goes right on top. Jazz it up with a wholesome homemade dressing (see guide here) or keep it simple with olive oil & vinegar.  

There are so many fun variations of this meal! 

  • South-of the Border: Arugula, quinoa, black beans & corn topped with avocado, fresh cilantro and mango-jalapeno salsa.

 

  • Asian: Bok choy, shredded carrots, brown rice & edamame topped with toasted sesame seeds.

 

  • Pacific NW: Baby kale, chopped cucumber, wheat berries & grilled salmon topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt, lemon & dill. 

You deserve to feel healthy, whole & well-nourished, so take the time to set yourself up for success!

Happy batch cooking!  

PS If you're excited to learn the tricks of the trade for batch cooking whole grains from around the world, check out the comprehensive guide in the Zest Guidebook, available online!