“What should I cook?” Whether you’re asking yourself that question or your family is, fear no more! If you spend a few hours on the weekend getting ready for your weekday lunches and dinners, you’ll always have key items on hand for a variety of menus in 15 minutes or less. Make as many or all of the suggested recipes below depending on how much time you have – with the oven at 425 F you can roast many things at once.
When it’s meal time, warm up prepared items that need heating. Meantime, you can defrost frozen cooked rice or quinoa, boil some noodles, cook potatoes in the microwave, steam or microwave some pre-cut & pre-washed veggies in bag, or throw some pre-cut and pre-washed salad greens in a bowl. Any combination works!
To add variety and flavor to your combinations, make liberal use of dried spices and herbs as well as tasty hot sauces, mustards, vinegars, salsas, teriyaki sauce, and other condiments to bring the meals together.
Trust me, a little planning and preparation goes a long way towards making weekday meals a cinch!
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place 8 cups total of chunks of baby potatoes, purple onion, zucchini (cut out the middle seeded part so it’s not so watery; you can use this middle part in salads or the vegetable soup recipe below), cauliflower, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, peppers, peeled eggplant, and carrots on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Toss with 6 Tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tsp garlic powder, and a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and any other spices of your choice. Cook 45-60 minutes or until desired doneness.
Roasted Chicken Thighs
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a baking dish lined with aluminum foil, drizzle olive oil on 8 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and toss with 1 tsp each of Italian herbs, garlic powder, and pepper plus a large pinch of salt. Roast for 35 minutes or until cooked through.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a 1 to 1.5 lb. piece of salmon, skin side down, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon each of paprika and cumin, and a large pinch of cayenne pepper and salt. Roast 15-20 minutes until just cooked.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Preheat oven to 400 F. Pierce 2 or 3 large sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a foil-lined baking pan and roast in the oven for 45-60 minutes until soft. Try purple and white sweet varieties.
Simple Vegetable Soup
In a large pot over high heat, add 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock plus a total of 6 cups of chopped vegetables – for example, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, onion, garlic, carrots, cabbage, etc. – plus 1 Tablespoon of cumin. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Use an immersion blender to purée, or allow to cool and blend in a blender to create a creamy texture. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper. To serve, top with a dash of olive oil and/or grated parmesan cheese to each bowl.
Easy Chickpea Curry
Combine a jar of curry sauce (here’s an example) with 2 cans of drained chickpeas plus 2 cups of broccoli florets, fresh or frozen, in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Serve over rice, quinoa, or microwaved potatoes with a squeeze of lemon juice on top.
A Batch of Rice, and a Batch of Quinoa
Cook the grains separately in two separate pots. Cook 2 cups of the dry grain according to package directions. Optional: instead of water, use chicken or vegetable broth, and add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pot before cooking.
Cut up peppers, peapods, shredded carrots, and scallions or purple onions and place in a sealed container or Ziploc bag. Add cherry tomatoes. When ready to enjoy a salad at a meal, combine a portion of these vegetables with chopped cucumbers, pre-washed lettuce, arugula, or baby spinach. Then toss with dressing (see below), chopped nuts or seeds, avocado, or crumbled cheese. Enjoy with a protein like chicken, sliced boiled eggs, cubed tofu, drained canned beans, lean beef, or fish.
Balsamic Salad Dressing
Shake all ingredients in a jar with a tightly sealed lid: 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, 2 Tablespoons dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons maple syrup, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.