It started in an attempt to make sure my husband ate healthier. At the time he had been eating oatmeal for breakfast and often ramen noodles for lunch and dinner. I had a genius idea to cook a lot at once and portion it out and freeze it for him to have better meals with all the work he has been doing to support our family. Then one night I got home and I was just done. There was nothing in me to cook. We were out of milk so cereal wasn’t an option. I used two of his freezer meals and felt better about what my daughter and I ate for dinner. Soon after this I started working part-time. When I picked up my daughter she had been fed. I just had to feed myself. Cooking for one just does not appeal to me. Some weeks I go really crazy and prep lunches for my daughter and me plus the freezer dinners. One week was going to be really really busy so I even prepped breakfast.
Chronic illness takes so much from us, taking back my nutrition has been one way to fight back. True I do have to plan for most of the day to be spent cooking and prepping and resting. It really does take a lot out of me however, I have found it’s value far out weighs the energy spent doing it. When I first started doing it took me a lot longer. The more I have done it the more efficient I have gotten at it. This is what works for me. When I first started this was almost a six hour process for me. I really don’t cook using exact measurements. The food you will have to use your sense of judgement of how much your family would eat. Some I know the amounts only because I was able to dig up Farmers market receipts and find the amounts I got. So if you are looking for exact measurements, this is not for you. However, I do know that the more nutritious meals I can eat the more my body will thank me for it. The easier I can make it to get veggies and fruit in my diet the better I function. When I have complete meals like this ready,the less likely I am to resort to cereal for dinner or other crap, like pizza.
Here is how I do my food prep/cook days.
Grocery store list:
8 pounds of chicken
one head of cauliflower
1/2 lbs Green beans
Two sweet potatoes
1 lbs Parsnips
1 head of Broccoli
about 1/2 a lbs Sugar snap peas
2-3 Squash(whatever is in season) I normally stay with acorn or butternut squash as they will hold up the best.
Eggplant- I often get the baby eggplants as they are easier. I get between six to nine
If you don’t already have them Ziploc or Glad entree containers (this normally does about 12-14 individual dinners)
So then I come home and clean all the veggies. Turn the oven on to 350
Line two trays and two baking pans with tinfoil(this makes clean up simple) (and by the time I am done I need simple)
Place your chicken in one of the foil lined baking pans. Add olive oil and seasonings to your liking. I have found the best combo is garlic rosemary and sea salt.
Toss the chicken in the oven and set the timer for an hour. It does best on a top rack.
Then in the other baking pan I place the cauliflower and baby eggplants and sweet potatoes. Cover well with olive oil. We like to use garlic and dill on the cauliflower and garlic and salt on the eggplant. The sweet potatoes I individually wrap in foil and just toss a splash of olive oil and salt in with it. This normally takes me about fifteen minutes and I toss it in with the chicken.
Next up are the parsnips and carrots. Peel and place on baking sheet. coat in olive oil and season. Again we tend to do garlic rosemary basil and salt.
Toss that baking sheet in.
Half the squash and de-seed it. sprinkle some cinnamon nutmeg and clove on it. Slap it face down on the baking sheet lined with tinfoil and a bit of olive oil. Toss that baking sheet in.
Now go lay down. There should be about twenty minutes to thirty minutes left on the timer. I sometimes cheat and just sit down and snip green beans.
The timer goes off.
Take out the parsnips and carrots first and set aside. The cauliflower and eggplants are also normally done. The sweet potatoes if the very center is still firm that is fine. Remember you will be microwaving them so they will finish cooking.
Check the chicken. Most of the time it is done but it could need a bit more.
On the stove you will need four pots. In one you will mix brown rice and quinoa and set it to boiling. I normally save the kale and spinach pulp in my juices and toss that in with it. I make quite a bit but as usual I don’t normally measure it. I would approximate a cup of each. It will make a lot which is what you want.
Then the green beans and sugar snap peas and broccoli in the others. Cook them to just shy of being done. This way when you microwave them later they finish cooking the last little bit and are perfect.
Now you can line up the gladware or ziplock containers. I throw about a tablespoon of quinoa rice mix in all of them. A chicken breast. Then two veggies. Mix how you wish.
Quinoa rice spinach and kale mix
Quinoa mix, chicken sweet potato and green beans
Quinoa mix chicken and caulflower. I believe the carrots got lost under the caulflower
Sugar snap peas caulflower chicken.
Quinoa rice mix, parsnips and carrots and chicken.
Top and toss in the freezer.
Take out as needed.
For lunches I normally do a salad with some cubed ham or turkey shredded cheese, hard boiled egg and mandarin oranges. In ziplock bag, fried noodles or a seed mix(pumpkin and Sunflower) then in small containers dish out a squirt or two of dressing. This keeps it from getting soggy.
For breakfasts we like to do a layer of greek yogurt a layer of granola a layer of fruit drizzled with honey sprinkle on some ground chia and then a shake of cinnamon. These stay good for about three to four days. For the other days I normally portion out oatmeal and mix in ground flaxseed, wheat germ and some cinnamon. Then all I have to do is add water.
Another meal I normally toss in the oven after all the food prep is brussel sprouts mushrooms onions baby carrots, minced garlic a little lemon zest and olive oil then season with whatever you wish. Toss that all in some tinfoil and wrap closed. Toss THAT in the oven for about thirty minutes or so. Most of the time I just turn the oven off after thirty minutes and leave it in the oven. I normally have a bit of quinoa rice mix left over so I spread that on plates and top with the brussel sprouts mix.