Saving time…

Saving_TimeI only had two hours to prep meals last week (not counting meal planning and the grocery shopping- just the kitchen time). However, because I had planned the meals and had purchased all ingredients by the time I started the meal prep, it was pretty straightforward and could be knocked out in one swoop.

The biggest time-saver was that I had batches of white beans and black-eyed peas already cooked in the freezer. I’m in the process of using up all my frozen beans, and then I’ll go through the cycle of making a few big batches again.

Here are the week’s menus and further below I’ll describe the advanced prep:

Quinoa Ginger Salad without onions and with avocado

Beef-like seitan with a new beef-like gravy, rice, and green beans with almonds

Black-eyed pea salad with roasted asparagus and potatoes

Breakfast for dinner

BLTs

Leftovers

 

On my prep day, I started by washing any fresh produce that wasn’t already clean and that I needed for the meal prep (fruits and lunch box veggies were washed later to save time), which, in this case, was really just kale and sweet potatoes. Then I stripped and steamed 2 bunches of kale (as it took 3 batches). While the kale was steaming, I made the dough for beef-like seitan and microwaved the sweet potatoes. As each batch of kale finished, I transferred it to a large bowl and using kitchen scissors cut it into smaller pieces. Once the kale was steamed, I steamed the seitan. I also made a batch of quinoa (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa). Once the sweet potatoes were cool enough to handle, I peeled them and cut them into bite-sized cubes. The sweet potatoes also went into the bowl of kale, along with the frozen white beans. The cooked quinoa was dumped on top of the white beans, which along with the sweet potatoes, helped them defrost. Canned beans (drained and rinsed) would have been perfectly fine too. I added ginger dressing (the non-spicy version) diluted with a bit of water to the bowl, stirred it and put it in the fridge. ginger 1

On the evening I served the Quinoa Ginger salad for dinner, I took it out of the fridge, added diced avocado, stirred it well, and served it with more ginger dressing on the side. Even though this recipe had a number of key ingredients, they are all easy to make and it easily stands alone as a meal. The avocado is my favorite as it really helps bring all the flavors together (and I just love avocado. . . and ginger sauce). I usually make a big batch of this recipe so we can enjoy it for lunch during the week too.

Once the beef-like seitan had steamed and cooled, I sliced and refrigerated it. On the evening I served it, I reheated it for a few minutes, covered, in the oven while the brown rice and fresh green beans were cooking. I started the beef-like gravy first as it was a new recipe and I wasn’t sure how well it would work; this would have been good to make on the prep day, but I didn’t have time. I cooked the green beans in a saute pan covered with a few tablespoons of water so they would steam. Once they reached the desired tenderness, I removed the lid and allowed any extra water to cook off. For the last few minutes of cooking, I added sliced almonds. I served the beef-like seitan on top of the rice with the green beans on the side and gravy for anyone who wanted it. The gravy was a big hit and made the seitan much more interesting than a slab of wheat meat. I made two lunch-sized portions and then froze the leftover seitan to use in a stew or stirfry.

For the black-eyed pea salad, I started by making the dressing (vinegar, jelly, sugar, salt & pepper) in the bowl that I would store the salad in. Then I added the black-eyed peas to the bowl and diced frozen stoplight pepper strips. I didn’t have any red onion, so I just diced yellow onion and added that to the bowl as well. I gave it a good shake and stored it in the fridge. On the evening I served it, I added diced avocado. A commitment that I had for the evening was cancelled at the last minute, so I decided to roast some asparagus that were starting to wilt and while I had the oven on, figured I’d roast some potatoes as well.

There was no advanced prep for breakfast for dinner night, so I made sure I had time that evening to make this dinner. I made baked hashbrowns (which involved dumping frozen shredded potatoes on a baking sheet, spritzing with oil and salt and baking), scrambled tofu (sauteeing a block of firm tofu with black salt and a bit of turmeric), biscuits, and spinach (from a frozen package). I wanted to add lots of interesting stuff to the tofu scramble (mushrooms, spinach, peppers) but it’s not one of my favorites anyway, so I just ate it mixed with the spinach.

The other two nights we had BLTAs (bacon/lettuce/tomato/avocado) using prepared tempeh bacon (and using up the rest of the avocado) and homemade MiracleNaise from fatfreevegan.com and then leftovers. It turned out to be a great week of meals (based on energy levels, avoidance of junk food, no last minute eating out) – thanks to the advanced planning!

 

Beef-like Gravy

1/4 c refined coconut oil

2 T flour

1 t no-beef broth concentrate (like Better than Boullion) in 1 c warm water

1.5 t vegan worcestershire sauce

1 t onion powder

pepper to taste

Melt the coconut oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, then add the flour.  Stir with a whisk until the flour starts to smell nutty.  Slowly add the no-beef broth, whisking until smooth.  Add the vegan worcetershire and onion powder.  Turn the heat to medium low and continue to whisk in liquid (~1 c water) until the desired consistency is reached.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Gravy will continue to thicken once removed from heat.  Yield is ~2.5 c.

For added protein, add 1 c white beans and the gravy to the blender and puree until smooth, adding more broth or water as needed to reach desired consistency.  Taste and add more Braggs’s/tamari or poultry seasoning if needed.  Yield is ~3.5 c.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit:

bit.ly/SimplyEatPlants_SaveTime