Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dinner Ideas and Prep Tips

Today I want to talk about DINNER. 
I find this the hardest meal to plan because usually it is more time consuming to put together, and by the end of the day I can be too tired or still too busy to do it well. 
Here are some suggestions on what to make and how to prepare for it ahead of time

1. Stuffed peppers: 

Ground meat, quinoa, or brown rice as your base.  Add in sauteed veggies of your choosing, garlic, maybe mix in some tomato paste. Sometimes I toss in chopped almonds or sunflower seeds for crunch.  Layer your filling with some cheese and cook in the oven. 
- Cook ground meat, rice, or quinoa on the weekend and store in fridge.
- Chop veggies ahead of time and store in the fridge.
- Slice tops off of peppers and deseed ahead of time, store in fridge.  

2. Sauteed chicken sausage, peppers, and onions:  
This is a once a week happening in our house.  Slice chicken sausage and saute or bake.  Slice onions and peppers thin and saute and bake.  Mix together in a pan and serve
- I keep sliced onions and peppers in a baggie in a freezer in the exact portions I will need them for this meal.  Add them to the pan when ready and you're done.  Alternatively, you don't have to freeze them, just keep them in the fridge.  

3. Pasta Primavera: 
Cook some whole grain pasta, and while water is boiling, saute veggies in olive oil and garlic.  When pasta is done cooking, add it to the veggies and mix to coat pasta with the olive oil and garlic.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of fresh basil or parsley.  You can add grilled chicken if you want!
- Chop your veggies and store ahead of time, and I always throw in some baby spinach for extra greens.
- Cook chicken ahead of time on the weekend in a big batch and slice just before serving to add to pasta.  

4. Burgers (or chicken or shrimp or steak) and veggies: 
Turkey, beef, or bison burgers (or veggie) with a side of roasted veggies.  Maybe add corn on the cob if you want, or grilled or baked sweet potato fries!  We also have this at least once a week.  We use Bubba turkey burgers that can be cooked straight from the freezer to save time.  I usually serve with zoodles, steamed broccoli, or roasted asparagus. 
- If using ground meat to make your own burgers, make a batch on the weekend, freeze some for another day and store the others in the fridge. 
- Chop veggies ahead of time and store in fridge.  If you want to grill your veggies, throw them in a big ziploc with olive oil and spices to marinate!
- Slice sweet potatoes into rounds or wedges and save in a ziploc bag.  

5. Taco Salad: 
First of all, google homemade taco seasoning and find a recipe you like.  Get those spices, and make a seasoning batch.  No more of those grocery store packets of seasoning.  Half the stuff in there is crap I can't pronounce.  Make ground beef (or rice and beans) and add the seasoning.  Gather salad ingredients such as romaine lettuce, bell peppers, corn kernels, tomatoes and make a salad with your seasoned ground meat or beans.  Top with salsa and either avocado or queso fresco (feta is a really good alternative to queso fresco). 
- Make meat ahead of time and store.
- Chop veggies ahead of time.
Are you seeing a trend here?  Dinner should be primarily a protein source and veggie source, and many of these things can be prepped ahead of time so that you just have to cook and assemble.  I often pick 3-4 protein sources a week and get an assortment of vegetables.  Then I just create combinations.  You can have grilled chicken and veggies.  Seasoning can go a long way to make what seems like a plain dinner really tasty! 

Other ideas:
- Scrambled eggs, roasted sweet potatoes (or squash) and a green veggie

- Veggie and chicken quesadillas with whole grain tortillas, chopped veggies, shredded chicken, and cheese made in a saute pan just like a pancake- cook on one side then flip carefully!

- Diced chicken cooked in garlic and olive oil, mixed with sauteed zucchini and corn. 

- Baked Pork Chops with a yummy sauce and roasted Brussels

Visit the Recipes section of this blog for TONS of other ideas (they're just not as quick to make!)

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