“If you cooked for me, I’d definitely be plant-based!”
“Do you spend hours in the kitchen!?”
“What the hell is that? And can I get the recipe?”
These are a few of the questions and comments I’ve heard recently from friends of mine who follow my overly food-saturated instagram stories feed. These are extremely flattering comments and I take pride in people taking notice of something I’m passionate about. The not-so-sexy truth of the matter is the way I cook doesn’t take me long in the moment, but does take practice, planning, and patience. And a husband who will eat just about anything.
To tackle all of these questions, I thought I’d write about what I ate this past week, how I come up with the ideas, and the process I use to make healthy, interesting, yet simple recipes that fit into the work week. Why should you care about what I eat or how I get the ingredients to turn into the instagram worthy photos? Because the meals I make are chock-full of vegetables (which you need to be eating more of, don’t you?) don’t use crazy ingredients, so you can find them in a regular grocery store, and they are cost effective, so you aren’t going to break the bank. I believe weeknight meals should be delicious, exciting, and help you spend more time with your loved ones. I use the time in the kitchen to get creative, decompress from my day, and put effort into something I know is good for me. So, if you want to do the same, then read on. And that’s why you should care.
Last Week’s Meals: The Thought-Process
When planning out my meals for the week, I typically take into consideration the extra-curricular activities (on top of work) I have. Will I need to meal-plan on nights I don’t have much going on to compensate for the nights I have hike club, dinner with friends or a jam session with the chuggers (a rad musical trio I’m in with my buddies Ryan & Mark. We rock)? If there are nights that will require a quick dinner, I choose tried-and-true meals I have made before, so there’s no guess work in the kitchen. Everyone has a meal or two that they can put together without batting an eye or opening a recipe on their browser. An example of a meal like that for me? Chick pea tacos, all day. Sliced onions & peppers in a skillet. Can of chickpeas tossed with cumin in the toaster oven. Put that in a spinach wrap, with a side of beans and voila!
For the nights I know I have some extra time, I’ll choose a newer dish that I can get creative with or perhaps a dish that has a sauce (which adds time/extra dirty dishes). How do I choose these meals? By scrolling through Pinterest choosing something that looks delicious, then altering the recipes in my head based on ingredients I know I have or can get at the store easily. Simple is the name of the game here, so picking those exotic dishes don’t work and the ones that take 45 steps to complete aren’t for me either. For example, I knew I had a jam session last Tuesday, a hike scheduled for Wednesday, and an outdoor movie night scheduled on Thursday. Plus, Mike and I are home for lunch everyday, as he’s in-between projects (we just sold our 5th Happy Homes investment property!) and I work from home. So planning meals that will leave left-overs or buying ingredients that will work for multiple meals, is key. Below are the meals I planned last week – and we ate 18 meals in from Monday to Sunday, two meals were at friends houses and we’re going out tonight!)
- Korean BBQ cauliflower wings with spring rolls and veggie wontons
- Grilled Zucchini Pitas with a vegan dill sauce & sliced Cucumbers
- Veggie Tacos with peppers and onions and a side of spicy navy beans
- Lentil Meatballs (I used them for Mediterranean pitas & a spicy peanut ramen dish)
- Tofu Broccoli wraps with garlic sweet & sour sauce
- Black bean crumble (from Morning Star) tacos with a chipotle mayo & brown rice
- Homemade pasta with basil pesto & sun-dried tomatoes
I like to pick a day to meal-plan, batch-cook for the week (meaning cook a few of the more time-consuming recipes) and possibly even grocery shop. Often, I can’t do all of this in one day, especially if it’s nice out. As much as I love to cook, I do like to prioritize my outdoor-time, especially on the weekends. Last Sunday was Easter and we headed to my sisters in the early evening, giving me all morning/afternoon to prep food for the week. I ended up making the lentil meatballs, as they were a bit more involved, and were something I could heat up all week, in a pinch. Below are some of the sauces, tips and ways I prepared the above. If you take anything away from this post, know that simple ingredients make the best meals and you can save so much money by planning your meals before grocery shopping and sticking to the list.
Homemade pasta with basil & sun-dried tomatoes
I use the simple recipe from The Ultimate Pasta and Noodle Cookbook. Three ingredients, plus the actual pasta maker. This takes some time, but Mike and I love making it together. And it makes a ton, so we had it for our outdoor movie night and everyone loved it! I purchased the basil sauce & sun-dried tomatoes at the Dollar Store. Yup, both of those items were a total of $2.14. Anyone who typically buys sauces in a groccery store should know that is a KILLER deal.
Vegan Dill sauce
1-2 tablespoons of water
- Mix all together until you have a saucey consistency.
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1-2 tablespoons of water
- Mix it all together until you have a saucey consistency.
Korean BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup of water
3 tablespoons of sugar free ketchup
1 tablespoon of sriracha
1 tablespoon of soy sauce or amino acids
1 teaspoon of chopped garlic
1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water
1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil
- Heat oil & garlic for a minute (until melted)
- Add ketchup, soy sauce, and water and stir till mixed well.
- Add cornstarch mixture and stir till thick. Keep on low heat.
What are you eating this week? Happy cooking!