If it’s Sunday, you can likely find me in the kitchen.
Oh, I know today is not Sunday. It’s Tuesday. A Tuesday that feels like Monday courtesy of MLK, Jr. Day. Not that I am complaining about that. I love a three-day weekend, especially when Monday is the extra day off. Starting my week on a Tuesday is downright blissful. Although, come to think of it, I taught four Pilates classes yesterday so I guess I did in fact start my week on Monday, but that doesn’t really feel like work to me. If it had been more than 6 degrees outside I would have been more than happy to head the studio twice yesterday. Given the weather I did it a bit grudgingly, especially the second time, but I am always happy once I am there.
Anyway, none of that has anything to do with today’s post.
As I was saying, if it’s Sunday, you’ll likely find me in the kitchen. I’ll be the one chopping and cooking and cleaning, and then probably doing it all again. Both my oven and my dishwasher get a lot of use on Sundays.
I don’t spend all day in the kitchen. It’s probably more like two or three hours, which I know sounds (and sometimes feels) like a lot. But those few hours on the weekend save me valuable time throughout the week and help my family to eat healthy, homemade foods throughout our busy, activity-filled weeks. This is, of course, good for both our health and our wallets, because take-out adds up fast in terms of calories and dollars. This small investment in meal prep time also ensures that the food I just spent a small fortune at the grocery store on doesn’t rot in the back of my fridge.
Is it just me, or are grocery prices insane lately? I’m thinking of doing a budget meals month – maybe in March. What do you think?
Each Sunday afternoon or early evening, usually while I am making dinner, I start my meal prep for the week. I do these simple things just about every week to
- Wash some greens.
- Wash and cut up veggies.
- Wash and cut up fruit. Just be sure berries are dried really well before you put them away.
- Cook up a big batch or two of grains – quinoa, rice, pasta. (Health tip: make sure at least one of the batches is 100% whole grain).
- Make hard-boiled eggs. These are great for breakfast, lunches, snacks and on top of salads.
- Make a soup or chili. (This can be as easy heating up some low-sodium chicken broth, adding some shredded rotisserie chicken frozen veggies and frozen or dried noodles – but it will taste so much better than anything that comes out of a can. Or it can be your dinner on Sunday night, just make sure you have enough for leftovers throughout the week).
- Roast some veggies. Pick your favorites, or do whatever is in season.
- Roast a chicken (if your family eats chicken) or more veggies (if your family is vegetarian or vegan) – I love to bake some sweet potatoes or roast mini potatoes which I love as the base of a buddha bowl or even on a salad.
- Make some muffins or a quick bread. (I also make a loaf of homemade bread or rolls, but I know that’s probably taking things a bit too far – lol).
- Make a big-batch breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, egg sandwiches, breakfast cheesecakes – all of these provide cook once, eat all week options for a busy family.
One of the big-batch breakfasts I like to make is oatmeal. I usually use steel cut oatmeal because I like the chewier, almost nutty (without nuts) texture. But this recipe uses regular plain old-fashioned oats. Of course, I dressed them up a bit to make them fit for a birthday celebration. (We’ve had a lot of birthdays the past couple months) and my kids loved them. In fact, they request Birthday Cake Oats on a regular basis. Which is okay by me, because they are a cinch to make and other than the odd coloring in the sprinkles, they are a healthy way to start the day.
I start by combing 4 cups of water, 2 cups of milk (you can use all water but the milk makes your oats much creamier and tastier), 3 cups of oatmeal, a few tablespoons of raw honey and a dash of salt in a large saucepan. I bring the pot just to a boil, watch it carefully because you will cry over spilled milk if it overflows and makes a huge mess, then reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the oats are thick and creamy I remove from the heat, stir in 2 teaspoons of vanilla, 1 teaspoon of butter extract, 1 tablespoon of Kerrygold butter and 2 tablespoons of rainbow sprinkles.
I allow the oats to cool and then cover and refrigerate. To heat individual servings, I place the desired amount in a microwave safe bowl with a splash of milk and a tiny pat of butter and heat until hot, usually about 90 seconds.
Super simple, super delicious, super healthy, and a great, fun way to start the day.