For this week's meal prep, I was all about saving money and limiting my food waste. Recently, I've noticed that I tend to overspend at the grocery store and towards the end of the week I throw out so much food- whether it has been cooked or not! Each week I plan to make all these recipes for lunches, dinners, and breakfast, I buy endless varieties of vegetables, proteins, or spices and end up using half of the spices, throwing out the vegetables because they have become soggy/rotten, and not finishing the protein because things often come up during the week and I am not around to eat what I've cooked! I am sure you can all relate!
This time, during my trip to the market, I wanted to focus on buying small quantities of vegetables, spices, and proteins, and reuse the same items throughout the week in my meals, just in different ways to avoid becoming bored! I bought the ingredients below in bulk to save money and ended up getting more meals than I thought I would!
I chose two proteins for the week: organic chicken breasts and organic eggs. I thought that the chicken would be great for tacos, on top of salads, or sandwiches and the eggs would be great for snacks, breakfast, or a quick "breakfast for dinner" type of meal.
For the vegetable options, I chose kale, brussels sprouts, microgreens, cilantro + basil (fresh herbs) as well as a few avocados, and my favorite tomatoes from Backyard Farms. Avocados are always great to have for toasts, snacks, sandwiches, really anything goes well with them! I also love having microgreens each week because they add so much color, flavor and crunch to any salad, sandwich or taco! Focusing in on one or two fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro is key because you can turn it into pesto, make other sauces, add them on top of any dish to enhance flavors, or even add them to your water or smoothies! I also chose tomatoes from Backyard Farms, because they are always juicy, firm, and super fresh! The reason it’s “Always Tomato Season” at Backyard Farms is they grow three varieties of tomatoes in this amazing 42-acre greenhouse in Madison, Maine. Their tomatoes are non-GMO and grown in Maine but are available all the way from Maine to New Jersey! I am sure you've seen them at your local Whole Foods before if you live in the Northeast! I honestly feel that you can feel their passion about their tomatoes when you slice or bite into one! They are never bruised, soggy, or that weirdly mealy looking/taste that makes you want to just toss the whole thing out and the best part- they are always ripe- you can get their tomatoes all year long! I would much rather buy local, than something overseas and know exactly where the product is coming from and who is growing it. You can see a few of the things I've done with them such as this pizza or here!
For this week, I made three recipes. I started with one and used the leftovers to make two more. In reality I ended up making many more recipes, but I am going to share two as well as share a few ideas! I first made loaded vegetable chicken tacos with a cilantro tahini avocado sauce, then used the leftover vegetables to make 12 vegetable egg muffin cups for breakfast, quick snack or even light dinner with a side salad, and the last recipe is a simple but hearty chicken sandwich stacked with avocados, tomatoes, and the leftovers! I was surprised with how many meals I was able to get with the first thought in mind of making chicken tacos for dinner! From them, I was able to get a week's worth of breakfast, a few sandwiches and more!
Cutting back on food waste and re-thinking your trip to the market is really valuable. I was surprised on how little money I spent this week and how much food I was able to purchase and have for the week. I avoided becoming bored with the meals for the week, by simply changing up each meal for lunches, breakfast, and dinners. All of these recipes below are simple too and can last you during the week!
First up we have the Loaded Veggie Chicken Tacos with a Cilantro Avocado Tahini Sauce:
This was the first recipe that I started with. It was actually very simple to put together and you can totally switch up the veggies each time you make them, even the protein! These can easily be turned into a breakfast taco by throwing an egg on top and make a fun/healthy lunch or dinner with friends! The cilantro avocado tahini sauce was super creamy, a little tangy, and the perfect addition over the vegetables and the chicken! I also love using the sauce as a dressing in my salads, a spread for sandwiches, dips for roasted sweet potatoes and vegetables, or even on crackers! It's really versatile. So, even though the recipe makes about 1 cup, you'll have plenty of leftovers for the week to use just about anywhere! You can find the full recipe for these tacos by clicking, here.
I also love using any left over kale, adding the poached chicken, avocado, fresh herbs, and adding some of the tortillas on top as croutons! To make them crunchy, just drizzle them a little bit with olive oil and your favorite spices, place them in the oven at 400 for just a few minutes! Or you can place them under the broiler on high for just a few seconds (watch as they will burn quickly.). Break them apart and sprinkle them over the salad with the left over taco sauce, some hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or chopped dates and you have the perfect lunch the next day for work!
Next, after eating my fair share of tacos for a few days, I still had some vegetables leftover so I decided to make veggie filled egg muffin cups! I love having these cups in the morning on the go, or for an afternoon snack, or even as a light lunch or dinner on top of a hearty salad filled with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, and anything else you love! I tend to eat the egg muffin cups cold, but you can totally re-heat them in the oven either under the broiler for just a few minutes (watch, as they will burn fast) or at 350 for 5 or so minutes. They will last about a week in the fridge and it ends up making roughly 12 cups! They are also perfect if you are following a paleo diet and are whole30 friendly! They are also the perfect way to get extra veggies in the morning without even realizing it, but you can also add meat into the cups as well for extra protein as well as any spices! Whenever I am making these, I also separate out the vegetables so each cup is different, that way, I never get bored with them! Each egg has a different variety! By clicking here, you will be able to see the full recipe!
Lastly, the hearty chicken sandwich!
I can hardly call this a recipe, but you can find the full ingredients, by clicking here. With the leftover tomatoes, kale, avocado, micogreens, as well as the chicken, I loved making this into a sandwich. I spread a thin layer of the cilantro tahini avocado sauce on the sprouted toast and built the sandwich! It kind of reminded me of a BLT, you can use any bread you want, such as rye or sourdough, you can eat the sandwich open faced, and even add a fried egg on top! The runny yolk would taste so delicious with the tomato, avocado, and the sauce! Sandwiches are super easy when you are busy and have little time to make a meal that takes effort, plus it is the perfect way to use all your leftovers! If, by the end of the week you don't have any of the cilantro tahini avocado sauce, you can use your favorite hummus, mustard or mayo! Whatever works!
Hopefully these three simple recipes, encourages you to rethink your meal planning and prepping for the week! Meal prepping often can be time consuming and thought of as a dreading task, but if you have a clear plan of what you want to buy and make for the week, it can make it a little easier! All you need is a few staples in your kitchen, then purchase your favorite vegetables, a variety of spices, as well as one or two protein sources of preference and get creative!