I love when I can get ahead of some of life’s craziness.
Even if it’s only by a half step, I’ll take it. And meal prepping has definitely been helping with this lately!
I have always been a meal planner. I write out the meals for the week every single week and all the grocery store needs (it’s actually one of my favorite weekly tasks!), but I sometimes lack on the follow through. By Wednesday, I’m usually tired and having a hard time getting over the midweek hump, and the healthy meal I planned out three days ago doesn’t seem at all appealing to make or eat. The veggies wither away, untouched in the crisper drawer. The chicken breasts get put in the freezer before they spoil. And I give into my exhaustion, sweatpants on and wine glass in hand.
Tell me I’m not alone!
In an effort to combat this, along with food waste, excessive evening calories (because, let’s be honest, if there isn’t food ready to go straight into my piehole on certain weeknights, I’m all about the wine and cheese. Or the takeout pizza), and my midweek slumps, I have taken up the oh-so-popular task of meal prepping.
On Sundays, I’ll prep at least one of our bigger meals (usually dinner) to get us through the first few days of the week. And this one simple thing has made such a huge difference. We’re sticking to my meal plans and eating the healthy, well-balanced meals that I originally intend us to consume, all while keeping the pizza delivery guy at bay and feeling pretty darn good about ourselves in the process.
It’s a win-win-win.
I want to let you in on the fun, which is why I am going to start sharing some of my meal prep meals with all of you, so you can get a half step up on life too. I think you’ll find that making at least one of your meals for a few nights (or even breakfasts/lunches!) can make a huge difference in the long run. I usually keep our weeknight meals healthy and simple, so I think these will appeal to a lot of you. At least that’s my hope!
Today’s meal prep is a quinoa bowl. And before you moan and groan and say “I’m so sick of quinoa,” let me preface my next few paragraphs of “this is so great” rambles with this: I do not like quinoa. Generally speaking. I have wanted to be a part of this food trend for years now, and I can barely get myself to choke it down. It’s a texture AND flavor thing for me. And my husband? Well, he’s even less inclined to eat it than I am.
THIS quinoa came out suuuuuper tasty, and we both gobbled it up gleefully every night. Even my grain-hating hubby. He raved about the flavors going on in this bowl, and the quinoa is a big part of that. It gets cooked in chicken stock, and I think this makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE when it comes to quinoa. Truly. If you cook it in water, it has half the flavor. It tastes as boring as you’d expect. But chicken stock makes something magical happen! The quinoa absorbs so much of the flavor from the stock, and I have found this to be a tried-and-true method for our quinoa consumption.
Veggie stock would also work great here, if you’re not a meat eater.
The cooked quinoa gets fluffed up with tons of lime zest and juice and a bunch of chopped cilantro. Two more things my husband does not like. Which is why I am still flabbergasted by his reaction to these quinoa bowls. He inhaled the quinoa in record time! While I stared on in disbelief mingled with pride. I’m not asking any more questions, though. I’ll take it.
From there, you can take these meal prep bowls wherever you like. I decided to add in a ton of baby greens and sliced avocado, some poached or soft-boiled eggs for richness, and a quick and easy yogurt-based ranch drizzle. My bowl also had extra lime juice spritzed over top because I cannot get enough citrus in my life ever.
(PS – for meal prepping purposes, I recommend making a bunch of soft-boiled eggs instead of poached and storing them, unpeeled, in the fridge. They’ll last you a week or so. Peel and enjoy with your bowls!)
The results were staggeringly delicious (“this quinoa tastes GOOD!?!?!?”) and healthy. I prepped everything once and we ate it over the course of four dinners. My Thursday self was a very happy camper.
The best part? We never tired of this meal. It was really that good. So simple yet deceivingly filling and flavorful. It’s definitely going back into my meal prep rotation in the near future!
I seriously live for that runny egg yolk. Swoon!
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup ranch dressing
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups water
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
The cooked quinoa
The lime ranch drizzle
8-10 cups baby greens
4 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
Whisk together the yogurt, ranch dressing, and lime zest and juice in a bowl. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Use immediately or divide into 8 portions for upcoming use.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the quinoa to the pot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it smells toasty.
Add in the water and stock (you can use all water, if desired. The stock just adds more flavor), and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the quinoa is tender and the liquid has been absorbed (follow your quinoa package directions).
Remove the pot from the heat, fluff the quinoa, and then stir in the chopped cilantro and the lime juice. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Heat a large pan of water to a gentle boil. Add in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar. Crack each egg into a ramekin or small bowl and then carefully and gently add it to the simmering water. Do this in batches. Cook until the eggs are set on the outside, about 2-3 minutes. (Alternatively, you can hard boil or soft boil the eggs, which I prefer for meal prepping purposes because I can make a large batch ahead, and they'll keep in the fridge for several days.)
Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue until all the eggs are poached.
Divide the quinoa equally between 8 meal prep containers.
Top each with a large handful of greens, roughly ½ of an avocado, and one egg. Pour over the lime-ranch drizzle if eating right away.
Eat immediately while everything is warm OR cool to room temperature and pack up tightly in meal prep containers and store in the fridge for later. Reheat everything in the microwave and pour over the lime-ranch drizzle just before serving.