As I have shared in the past, the thing that is most helpful to me for a successful week is meal prep. I like to make my lunches ahead, I keep smoothie packs ready to go from the freezer to the blender with no work, and I try my best to plan my menu for the week. For me, that often starts with a look at the calendar so I know how many meals for how many people I need each week.
This week, I need meals for two for most days, but we have a couple of dinners out for work or with friends. I usually head to my Pinterest boards for inspiration. It helps if I can find recipes that work together with overlapping ingredients to minimize waste and maximize time. I found some inspiration using some things I had on hand and rounded things out with lots of fresh veggies and protein. Many of the recipes have ingredients that I cooked on the grill; that means a healthy means of cooking, that allows me to prep once and cook lots at the same time and, bonus, it doesn’t heat up my kitchen in the summer! It is even better when my partner in crime is home to help do the grilling while I prep and assemble. Today, I was on my own and was proud I managed the grill myself!
In order to prepare for today, I shopped yesterday to spread out the work. That also gives me the chance to do things as I go. I started the day making my snacks of Peanut Butter Protein Balls, which are my favorite emergency snack. I fit the prep in between my morning coffee and smoothie then let them chill during my morning yoga. After cleaning and laundry, I started on my marinades, getting the chicken in the fridge to absorb the favor before prepping my veggies for grilling as well as my mise en place for lunches. I also pull out containers for my lunches so I am ready to throw the final product in easily.
Today, I tried something new, making farro in my Instant Pot. Farro is a wonderful grain full of protein and a lovely chew that holds up well in prepared dishes for the week. The downside is that it can take a long time when you use the whole farro. The Instant Pot solves that beautifully; instead of an hour, I had it done in 20 minutes while I prepped my veggies. I will go through the process later in the week as well as my riffs on the recipes below. Keep an eye out!
While I find inspiration from lots of places, I rarely follow a recipe exactly. Since I try to find some overlap between recipes, I also change up techniques to make my life easier. For example, I made Chicken Tinga over salads for lunches this week. I love that because I keep the salads separate to stay fresh and just pour the soupy chicken on top, which gives me a dressing without a lot of extra calories. Normally, I poach the chicken to shred for this dish, but since I was already grilling, I just marinated the chicken in some salsa, and threw it on the grill before shredding and finishing in my sauce. I also grilled my honey lemon chicken and will heat it later in the week in the sauce. That same honey lemon marinade is what I used for the grilled chicken for the Farro Salad. Remember that recipes are a guideline, but you can make changes to suit your needs! Here is my menu and inspiration for the week:
Green Smoothie Packs
Cold Brew Coffee
Chicken Tinga over Arugula and Spinach Salad
Honey Lemon Chicken with Green Beans
Grilled Veggie and Chicken Farro Salad with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette
Roasted Tomato and Sausage Summer Pasta
Peanut Butter Protein Balls
What are you cooking this week?