This Week, The Theme is an EASY Vegetarian Meal Plan ...
I mentioned in my last post, that I had had a skiing accident. This past week, all I wanted was comfort food, like this lentil soup. Well, I had my MRI this morning, and Carnivorous Maximus, who is a retired ER Doc, looked at the images. It appears I completely tore my ACL. So now I face the decision of either (1) surgery + rehab, which will take about 1 year; or (2) aggressive rehab, and
hope pray to God PT is good enough to strengthen what's left to support the knee in my activities. I hike, golf, kayak, ski, snowshoe and sail, so it's an issue. If I find the PT isn't enough to allow me to pursue my activities, I will have to do surgery + even more rehab, and lose 6 months of trying option (2). It reminds me of the old show Let's Make a Deal.
In the show, in case you're too young to remember it, Monty Hall randomly chose an audience member to pick a door on the stage, without their knowing if there was a fabulous vacation behind it, or a pile of flat tires. There were typically 3 doors to choose from, with some willowy young swan wearing impossibly high heels, gracefully indicating the doors. The other audience members shouted out door numbers for the person to pick, creating chaos. Sometimes they got the vacation, but more often ended up with the tires. Luckily I have a great orthopedic surgeon, and a husband with a lot of medical training to help me choose the best path. Please wish me luck.
All of this is to say, dinner needs to be easy for the foreseeable future. Really easy. And frankly, I need a vegetarian meal plan more than ever to keep it healthy. After all, if I just need easy, I can buy frozen pizzas and cartons of ice cream. So, my tips this week are all about ways to make dinner prep easier. And the recipes I chose to make this week seem to fit the bill.
5 Ways to Make Meal Prep Easier
- Don't choose recipes with an epic list of ingredients requiring you to go to 3 different stores. However, if you DO fall in love with such a recipe, look at the list of ingredients to see how you can simplify it. For example, if it calls for ¼ teaspoon of dill seed, my guess is you can omit it. It's unlikely ¼ teaspoon is going to be a game changer. The exception is, of course, if the recipe only has a few ingredients. If the dill seed is part of a vinaigrette, it will likely make a difference.
- Consider purchasing frozen veggies already prepped, or pre-cut veggies sold in plastic containers in many markets. Broccoli and cauliflower already broken down is a time saver, and few if any nutrients are lost by freezing or pre-cutting the veggies. Do not, on the other hand, buy canned vegetables as a shortcut. Salt and/or sugar may be added, and the cans be be suspect as well.
- If you choose not to go the frozen or pre-cut route, look for recipes that don't require a tremendous amount of precision prepping. Go rustic with irregular thicker slices of bell pepper instead of Chez Panisse slices that must be precisely ⅛" thick.
- Look for recipes that use a common element, say chickpeas. That way, you can cook up a batch of chickpeas that can be used through the week in different ways.
- If it's possible, prep the food when you get home from the grocery store. Invest in stackable containers for the prepped veggies, label and date them. Then store them in the refrigerator until you need them. I find that lining the bottom of the container with a moist paper towel keeps cut veggies from drying out. If you have family member who can help out, turn it into a prepping party and get it all out of the way for a week's worth of dinners.
M O N D A Y
by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Breakfast for dinner is always a winner for me, and quiche is one of my favorite ways to have eggs. This recipe is lightened with egg whites substituted for some whole eggs and 2% milk.
Prep Ahead: The entire recipe can be made ahead, and either served at room temperature or reheated in a 350˚F oven. At the minimum, slice the asparagus and leeks ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until you're ready to roast them up. Sometimes pre-cut asparagus is available in markets, sold in plastic containers.
Omnivore Tip: Add chorizo or bacon to the quiche or serve it alongside. Note: Cook the chorizo or bacon before adding to the eggs.
T U E S D A Y
by With Food + Love
One of my favorite things about this recipe is that there are only a few ingredients, and I almost always have them on hand. The second thing I love about this recipe is that if you already have cooked chickpeas tucked away in your refrigerator, this meal comes together in almost no time flat. Thirdly, it looks incredibly full of flavor with the spices. I'm trying to go lower carb, so I'll nix the tortillas, but trust me - I'm sure it's great with them. If you want, add a sauce like this one. And check out this great tutorial on cooking dried chickpeas, which includes troubleshooting tips for cooking them. It ranks as my #1 or #2 post everyday, all year round.
Prep Ahead: Slice the peppers ahead and store them in a container. If you need an easier solution, purchase them pre-cut at your market. Many markets sell them this way in containers, in the produce section.
Omnivore Tip: I recommend rockfish or snapper, baked, sautéed, or grilled with the same spices as called for the recipe.
W E D N E S D A Y
by Vegetarian Ventures
This looks so good I'll probably make a bunch of them baked in a casserole dish. You can make your own polenta if you want, but this recipe calls for the precooked polenta purchased in tubes. I will probably take that route for now. If you want to add some protein, cook up some extra chickpeas when you make the Sheet Pan Fajitas.
Prep Ahead: The recipe calls for your favorite tomato sauce. Purchasing a pre-made pasta sauce is the easiest solution, but I confess I always make this Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe. I frequently have a jar or sealed plastic bag of it in the refrigerator or in the freezer.
Omnivore Tip: Add ground beef to the tomato sauce.
T H U R S D A Y
by Earthy Feast
I'm still a huge fan of kale even though its fad phase has long peaked, and the combination of broccoli and quinoa really works. You want proof? Check out this alternate recipe for a Broccoli, Cheese and Quinoa Casserole.
Prep Ahead: Make the quinoa ahead and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you want to make the broccoli prep super-easy, many markets sell containers of broccoli already chopped into florets.
Omnivore Tip: Add shredded roasted chicken to the casserole.
F R I D A Y
by The Wimpy Vegetarian
I know. I nixed the tortillas in the Sheet Pan Fajitas, and now I've got a pasta night. All I can say is, baby steps, my friends. But this is my ultimate comfort meal. There's a similar recipe in my cookbook with curry powder because curry and cauliflower are besties. So I'll probably do that this week too.
Prep Ahead: If you purchase pre-cut cauliflower at your market, and roast the pieces along with the poblanos and leeks ahead of time, this dinner comes together pretty quickly.
Omnivore Tip: If Carnivorous Maximus insists on meat, I'll serve some roasted chicken on the side.
If you make any of these dishes, I would love to see how it turns out for you!! Take a photo and put it up on Instagram - just don't forget to tag me @wimpyvegetarian.
Did you miss my other Weekly Menu Plans? Check them out here for more meal planning recipes for vegetarians with tips for the omnivores at the table + menu planning tips:
For some general vegetarian meal planning tips and 5 dinner ideas, check out Vegetarian Meal Plan + Tips For Omnivores // Week 1.
Vegetarian Meal Plan + Tips For Omnivores // Week 2 includes 5 dinners and 5 questions to ask yourself when meal planning for the coming week.
Vegetarian Meal Plan + Tips For Omnivores // Week 4 includes 5 dinners and 5 common mistakes made when meal planning for the coming week.
I know, Week 3 is missing. If you remember I used my roundup of Best Ever Roasted Veggies for Easy Dinners on Parade as my collection of dinner ideas that week.