Now that Alex and I are back to business in the States, and I am desperately trying to get caught back up on my blog reading, commenting, and emailing, as well as being thrust immediately back into work. I did a MASSIVE grocery haul Monday morning (I was scheduled for a double but got to take the cut YES). And still forgot a few things. But we and, most importantly, the Zoe-ster, can now at least function.
Now that we are indeed back, we have had a rude awakening and have to switch immediately to real life: Alex will be working 630-6 or 10 every day, and I am back to my typical schedule of working Thursday-Monday. Alas, hand-crafted, top-shelf beverages will now be served BY me instead of TO me, and seafood will likely be frozen or from a shiny blue pouch. I am sure that many of you are in the same boat; goodbye decadent and huge feasts, hello cost-effective and convenient meals. But convenient does not equal flavorless or unnutritious. All you need is a little #strangebutgood in your life, creative use of ingredients, and a few basic formulas to work off of!
And so I present five of my favorite Nutritious, Delicious, and Convenient Meals to help you push through the work week! Best of all, the majority of these are portable, and once cooked, can be enjoyed cold or re-heated.
1) TVP “Sloppy Joes”
My Go-To Mix: Desired amount TVP, dash ACV, salt, pepper, garlic, cilantro, parsley, cayenne/red pepper, ground mustard, ketchup, Cholula or Srirhacha. I also recently got some Thai Seasoning from Frontier Naturals that I love, and that replaces a lot of the seasonings. Also, sometimes I add a little brown sugar to this. Add water, microwave to desired consistency, with anything you please.
2) ACV Oatmeal
I’m still loving the cranberry, but now I am opting more to have it on top after nuking the crans with a little maple syrup and salt for 30 seconds.
3) Susie’s Tuna Mix
My Go-to mix: 1 pouch low-sodium tun, chopped capers, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, tarragon, parsley, dill weed, honey mustard, miracle whip light. Microwave about 20-30 seconds, stir, squirt with a little lemon juice. Consume on bread, salad, crackers, a ping pong paddle.
I call this a “Grab bag” but all I really mean is that I will try to cook up something once a week that is apart from the ordinary: Jicama, Spaghetti Squash, Acorn Squash, Sweet Potato, chicken. Then I just combine into a tupperware, add some honey mustard and hot sauce, season, and go on my way.
If you have your turkey bacon prepped, or cut in half, this comes together in less time than oats. Plus you get the chance for fresh veg–lettuce, tomato, maybe throw in some onion in the skillet, I would HIGHLY recommend a few slivers of zucchini in a pan and then added to the sandwich–it adds amazing texture, moisture, and awesomeness. And if the skillet is on, add an egg! Add avocado! Smear some toast with mustard and any other spread you like, pack it up and go. Put the zuke and tomato in the middle, the bacon and lettuce to the outside, and you will minimize the soggy factor.
And 5 Strange But Good Pantry Staples that I keep on hand to create a quick dinner in minutes.
1) Chicken Sausage of various flavors. These are so, so versatile and freeze very well. I just immediate freeze them when I get home so that I don’t have to worry about them. When I want them, I will pop them into the microwave in a paper towel to defrost, or I will let them sit out for a few minutes, cut them (still partially frozen), and then add to a skillet with veggies (fresh or frozen). Add them to (cooked) frozen pizza, eat in a taco, sandwich, over rice–possibilities and flavors are endless!
My favorite brands are Al Fresco (especially Sweet Apple and Breakfast Country with Sage), AmyLu’s (Andouille), and Trader Joe’s (Spicy Jalapeno, Sweet Apple (Alex’s fave), Andouille. Alex also adores the Hillshire Farms Basil Pesto flavor and AmyLu’s (I think?) Apple and Gouda. I’m trying to remember and will update as I do.
2) Frozen carbs: English Muffins. If you can dream it, you can put it on an English Muffin. I keep both original and the Better Start ones and pick depending on fiber needs and also running expectations. Rice is also easy to freeze.
3) Turkey bacon. So far, I like TJ’s the best. Cut in half lengthwise, portion out into 4-half groups and freeze half the package (in wax paper). Store the rest in paper towel in the fridge, and pref cook some ahead, reheat as needed.
4) Frozen and Shelf-stable squash, sweet potato, apples, whatever. Stays good for a while, then prep it for a nice change of pace for a few days. Frozen veg is self-explanatory–season and serve.
5) Protein Muffins, cookies, whatever–make a ton, freeze those suckers, microwave, add PB or maple syrup, milk, cinnamon. eat with ice cream, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, eggs. #trust.
Top 5 Condiments to Keep on Hand:
1) ACV and/or lemon juice (Use it to bake, on salads, in smoothies, oats, savory, sweet applications)
2) Favorite, multi-purpose dressing: love me the Mango-Coconut dressing from Whole Foods, also Champagne Vin
3) Honey Mustard (can make a vinegrette or sauce veggies, add to PB for an Asian sauce, put with Tuna, use as a dip)
4) Ketchup (great to sweeten otherwise acidic or spicey tomato based dishes, like my sloppy joes, add to eggs, whatever)
5) Balsamic Vin (Marignate, dress, balance, acid)
Runner Up: Salsa (used to be my great love), Hot Sauce–can use cayenne as well
Top 5 Seasonings: (Not including Salt and Pepper)
1) Parsley (brightness, freshness, a just a slight bit of herb–can be added to pretty much anything)
2) Red Pepper Flakes/Cayenne, depending on preference (that little bit of heat can make or break your layers of seasoning
3) Cinnamon (Particularly Saigon, gives depth and warmth to any recipe)
4) Light Brown Sugar (you don’t have to add liquid sugar/sweetener–just a bit of brown sugar is great, even in dressings!)
5) Paprika/Ground Mustard/Ginger/Cumin/Garlic powder (I list all because that will be your preference and your cuisine focus and whether or not you keep garlic on hand)
5 Veggies I Always Keep on Hand:
Carrots are understood to always be in the fridge, lol. If I am treating myself, Jicama. The others form the base of pretty much any meal, and I usually figure out what I am going to have as I quickly prep them.
In all, from fridge to plate, a fully-realized salad might take 5 minutes, and by then I have already figured out and started the remainder of my meal. At the table, start to finish, in less than 10 minutes.
I hope that I have helped you out with some new ideas for how to mix flavors and come up with a quick but satisfying meal! For some go-to snacks, check out this post on how I get through work but also prep for running, and look forward to future posts on the subject!
So many people to thank for the link up parties!