Spring Harvest Rice | Meal Prep Recipe – Vegan

This large batch rice recipe is veggie-packed, vegan and can make enough to feed you throughout the week. Substitutions included in the recipe notes!

Jump to Recipe
meal prep with spring harvest rice
This recipe is great for meal prep! It makes a large batch and keeps well throughout the week.

Versatile & Meal Prep Friendly

This is a meal prep recipe that can easily be adapted to supplement different proteins and side dishes throughout the week, or to be used as is for a delicious and healthy meal prep lunch!

It’s flavor profile is flexible and truly can be made into a side dish or entrée with anything. Similar to Spanish Rice, Spring Harvest Rice uses fresh tomatoes and a plethora of vegetables and spices.

Make as is and it will yield about 10 cups of rice.

chopped vegetables for spring harvest rice
Make the recipe as written, or substitute ingredients you prefer.

Swap It Out

Not everyone likes peas and bell peppers, and that’s a-okay with me! Here’s a few substitution ideas to suit your tastes.

  • Instead of PEAS try edamame or sliced snap peas
  • Instead of BELL PEPPERS try carrots and celery
  • Instead of RICE try farro, barley, quinoa or couscous. Cook according to package directions and follow the rest of the recipe as written.

When swapping vegetables in this recipe, keep the measurements the same. This will ensure your rice comes out as tasty as possible!

Additionally, I encourage you to use simply whatever you have on hand. Even if it’s a combination of the vegetables in your fridge to match the measurements in the recipe – that’s great! You’ll prep a delicious rice dish and cut down on food waste. Win-win.

See recipe for a full list of substitutions.

Use this spring harvest rice as the base for a delicious burrito! Add roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and cheese of your choosing for an easy meal.

Spring Harvest Rice Meal Ideas

Here’s a few ways you can make Spring Harvest Rice a meal.

Vegan

Eat as is with some fried tofu (thai peanut or teriyaki would go well) and crispy balsamic-glazed roasted brussel sprouts

Vegetarian

Wrap rice with black or refried beans in a flour tortilla topped with shredded cheese for an easy vegetarian burrito.

Omnivores

Serve with rotisserie chicken for an easy weeknight dinner.

spring harvest rice on a plate
Spring Harvest Rice — look at all those veggies!

The Cooking Process

To make this rice the best it can be, the vegetables need time to simmer. Put the pot on while you’re doing other things around the house, and check it periodically. You won’t need to watch it the entire time it cooks, so it’s good to cook when you’re already at home and can peek in on it every once in a while.

Browse through the photos below to see different phases of the cooking process and the final product.

There’s no replacement for time when cooking. Each step of the recipe builds a layer of flavor, toasting the spices, sautéing the aromatics, and then adding the fresh tomatoes and allowing them to cook down. The result is a lightly spiced, flavorful rice packed with vegetables. It’s a hearty, flavorful dish.

Spring Harvest Rice (Meal Prep Recipe – Vegan)

This is a meal prep recipe that can easily be adapted to supplement different proteins and side dishes throughout the week, or to be used as is for a delicious and healthy meal prep lunch!
It's flavor profile is flexible and truly can be made into a side dish or entrée with anything. Similar to Spanish Rice, Spring Harvest Rice uses fresh tomatoes and a plethora of vegetables and spices.
Make as is and this will yield about 10 cups of nutrient-rich rice.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, Spanish
Servings 10 cups

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups cooked rice (white or brown) 3 cups uncooked
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon each of the following herbs: oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups fresh tomato diced (subsitute canned)
  • ½ red bell pepper diced
  • 1 lb frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • First, cook your rice.
    I prefer using an Instant Pot, or Rice Cooker, but you are welcome to use any method you'd like, including microwaved steamed rice (no shame in shortcuts).
    Substitute couscous, farro, or barley and cook according to package directions.
    Set aside for now.
  • In a large, heavy bottomed pot, or dutch oven over medium/medium high heat add oregano, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and cumin. Toast briefly (a minute or less) to bolster their flavors.
    Next, add in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, or preferred cooking oil, and heat until shimmering.
  • Add diced onion, garlic, and bell peppers. Sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and simmer uncovered over medium heat about 30-40 minutes, until tomatoes are cooked down and there is minimal liquid left in the pot.
    Simply put, it should look less like tomato sauce and more like a big pot of sautéed vegetables.
  • Incorporate the bag of frozen peas and salt and pepper. Mix well to combine and defrost the peas.
    When using frozen peas, it's best to add them at the last minute. If they cook too long, they turn mushy!
  • Add the rice 1-2 cups at a time, mixing well.
    Be sure to break up the chunks of rice to blend with the vegetables. Repeat the process until all of the cooked rice is incorporated.
    Done!

Notes

  • Substitute rice for farro, barley, quinoa, or couscous. Cook according to package directions. 
  • Combine any of your preferred spices for a custom blend. Add some cayenne if you enjoy heat, or swap basil for paprika if you prefer things more mild.
  • Substitute sliced snap peas or edamame for frozen peas, if preferred. 
  • Substitute carrots and celery for bell peppers, maintaining measurements.
Keyword easy meal prep, meal prep recipe, meal prep rice, spring harvest rice, vegan meal prep, vegetarian meal prep

Have you tried this Spring Harvest Rice? What substitutions did you make? Let us know how you liked it in the comments below!

What is Meal Prep and Why Should You Consider It? | Lifestyle

Meal prep is growing in popularity as a method of saving money on going out, maintaining a healthy diet, or just being able to enjoy a home-cooked meal without actually having to cook the entire meal every night.

The intention of this article to shed some light on things:

Welcome to Meal Prep 101!

meal prep

What is Meal Prep?

At it’s most basic, meal prep is preparing your meals ahead of time. While meal prep was initially popular as a means of maintaining a healthy diet (think weight loss/muscle building) it’s come to be so much more. Having dinner prepared (or, mostly prepared) at the end of a day’s work makes things so much easier. I enjoy the ability to eat a home-cooked meal every night, without having to make it all from scratch.

There’s two general categories of meal prep we’ll cover:

  • Daily Meal Prep
  • Batch Meal Prep

Which one you choose depends on your personal needs, including how much time you have to get dinner “on the table” every night and how much cooking you’d like to do. Meal prep can be used to create a full slate of meals for the week, including breakfast, lunch and dinner, or can be used for that one meal of the day you never seem to have enough time to make.

If you are just starting off with meal prep, I suggest picking one meal a day to prep. It’s a nice way to ease into prepping and you’ll have the opportunity to try different meal prep methods to see what works best for you.

meal prep

Daily Meal Prep

Daily meal prep involves fully preparing full meals to eat throughout the week. With this, you can prepare a weekday’s worth of breakfasts, lunches and dinners ahead of time. These can be the same dish for each meal, or a variety, depending on how much you’d like to prep.

Here is an example menu for all three daily meals utilizing the same dish for each. This is a typical workweek (M-F) meal prep menu.

These are all items I’ve made and prepped for the week. I chose them because they contain ingredients and flavors that I enjoy, and because they are relatively easy to make in large batches.

The biggest advantage I found with daily meal prep was not having to think about what I was going to make for dinner, or scrounge up for lunch every day. During the workweek, my meals were covered. I had filling and delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner all planned out.

Some daily meal plans also include snacks. I keep mine simple with fruit, nuts, or chips and salsa. I’m also a big fan of popcorn, which is easy to make on a whim.

There are a TON of resources for planning meal prep, some of which I’ve included at the end of the article. Recipes made for meal prep can be particularly useful, as not all dishes hold up well over the course of a few days. They may be safe to eat, but less enjoyable or lose their texture.

Batch Meal Prepping

batch meal prep example menu

Batch meal prep differs from daily meal prep primarily in that it involves cooking, or at the very least, assembling meals before you eat them. This may be more suitable for someone who has the desire to cook dinner every night, but may be short on time. Meal prepping this way saves cooking time and allows you to throw together delicious, homemade meals in minutes.

Here’s an example menu, where chicken breast and ground beef were batch cooked before the workweek.

Setting aside time to wash, dice and prep vegetables for the week is also a way of batch meal prepping. This type of meal prep allows for more flexibility, as well as fresh-made meals, but does require more time and planning. To do batch meal prep well, you’ll need a plan for the week on what you’d like to make. Now, that can always change, but it’s much easier to prep when you have an idea of what you’ll be cooking for the week.

Why Meal Prep?

Have complete control over what ingredients go into the food you are eating.

For some, meal prep is a way to control what goes into their food. I’m lactose intolerant, so having prepped meals that I knew contained not one trace of dairy was a relief, and much easier on my body. If you have specific dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance or practicing veganism, meal prep can be an easy stress-free way to eat with confidence.

Meal time convenience.

With your meals already prepared, no thought is required when meal time comes. Heat up your meal (or not, if its a no-reheat meal like salad or a fun bento box) and you are ready to eat. By having a homemade, prepared option, you’re less likely to eat out, grab fast food, or even substitute a granola bar for dinner (no shame intended, but you are worth more than a granola bar!).

Saves money.

Buying groceries in bulk and preparing your own food undoubtedly saves you money, particularly if you shop what’s on sale and in season in the grocery store. Saving money on weekday cooking means more funds for weekend fun! Personally, I’d rather save during the week and go somewhere special on the weekends.

Less dishes throughout the week/on days with prepped meals.

Need I say more? Typically, I deep clean my kitchen once a week, after we’ve completed prep. All it needs is simple maintenance throughout the week to stay clean and organized.

Improve your cooking skills.

Tackle basics you’ve been wanting to learn or branch out and try something new. Additionally, meal prep will improve your budgeting and planning skills, a completely unanticipated but warmly welcomed side effect of meal prep I discovered a few months into it.

100% customizable.

It’s YOUR meal prep… make what you want to eat! Whether it’s low carb, vegan, high protein, all greens, you name it, you can prep it. There are some incredible resources available to assist with your meal prepping journey. You can choose to have meal plans created for you to follow, use a meal-planning service like Blue Apron, or do it all on your own. It’s up to you.

meal prep

How does meal prep work in real life?

My husband and I both work full-time. Certainly having breakfast and lunch made work days easier, and saved us the time, effort, and money of going out to eat for lunch every day. Having dinner meal prepped allowed us the opportunity to heat and eat, and have more time to relax and enjoy each other’s company at the end of the day.

Honestly, when we first started meal prepping, I hated it. It takes a few hours on the weekend, and at first I felt I was wasting time. Despite my discontent, I increasingly appreciated being able to come home from work and have dinner ready. I didn’t have a mound of dishes in the sink, only our meal prep containers and plates to rinse and throw in the dishwasher. Eventually, I learned to love meal prep and couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

Whichever way you choose to prep, the most important part is finding what works for you. Otherwise, you won’t be consistent about it. Whether that means carving out a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, or prepping for only three days at a time, find what works for you and run with it.

Everyone has different reasons for meal prep. For us, it was a time-saving, convenient way to enjoy homecooked meals. Additionally, it helped us save money, which we’d prefer to splurge on a nice evening out or stash away for a vacation full of fun new foods.

crop cooks preparing pasta in kitchen

A note about time management

Depending on what and how much you meal prep, you may find yourself with all four burners occupied on the stove and both racks in the oven full. This can be overwhelming at first, cooking three full meals for multiple days at once.

My best advice, start slow. You’ll learn what you can do at the same time as you go, and you’ll get better at kitchen multitasking in the process. Here’s a basic method to tackle meal prep:

  1. Dice your veggies and measure ingredients — In the world of foodservice, this is called mise en place meaning everything in its place. Have everything ready to go, so that once you start cooking, its a seamless process of adding ingredients. This way you won’t be rushed to chop an onion when you’re pot of water is boiling and the chicken is ready to be taken out of the oven. It can get hectic, fast.
  2. Start with the oven — Once your ingredients are ready, start with the recipes to be made in the oven. Whether it’s roasted veggies, or a sheet pan pork chop, get the oven heated and get those things in there first. Oven recipes are great for meal prep, because once their in there, the oven does all the work.
  3. Move to the stove — While your food bakes away in the oven, turn your attention to the stovetop. Start anything you’ll be cooking and keep a close eye on it. In the meantime, clear counter space to place those hot pans once they’re ready to come out of the oven.
  4. Let everything cool — Don’t store your food as soon as its done cooking. In accordance with food safety measures, it’s best practice to allow hot food to come to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator. Otherwise, it may cool down unevenly and even leave food susceptible to spoilage. No one wants that. While everything cools, set out your containers.
  5. Fill and store — Once everything is cool, fill up your containers and stick them in the fridge. For no heat meals like salads, keep dressing separate and items that may cause the lettuce to get soggy, like tomatoes or cucumbers.
meal prep

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Don’t you get tired of having the same thing every day?

A: The honest answer is… sometimes! When we make something I don’t like that much, or that didn’t turn out as I had expected, it gets tiresome to eat it day after day.

But when we make dishes I truly enjoy eating, that are filling and tasty and cooked to my preference, I do not tire of eating it throughout the week. Make no mistake — I greatly look forward to the weekends, but I’d much prefer eating the same dinner five days a week without the stress of whipping up a healthy meal after a full work day. Chicken Enchiladas and the Lemon Miso Pork with Coconut Curry Vegetables were two meal preps I 100% looked forward to eating every single day. As I said before, it’s imperative to find what works for you and to start with flavors and dishes you already know you love!

Q: Can you ever eat out? Aren’t you committed to eating what you prep?

A: Yes, you can eat out and no, you aren’t obligated to eat what you prep for every meal. The flexibility of your meal prep depends on your own personal preference. I’d rather make meals for the week and have that option. When plans change, or the opportunity arises to eat out, or with friends/family, it is simple enough to put the planned, prepped meal into the freezer to eat at a later date. By doing this, you’ll eventually build up enough meals to eat for a week without prepping! Believe me, it happens faster than you’d think.

Q: Does all of your prep really keep for five days?

A: It depends. Some ingredients hold up much better than others. An easy way to think about it: any food that would hold up to a trip to the beach, or a picnic is a great candidate for meal prep. There are also ways to preserve your food, like dressing salads only right before you eat them.

Foods that, once cooked, get mushy or undesirable in a day are not recommended for meal prep — my number one example: zucchini! Additionally, if you are concerned about the freshness of your food, you can prep for three days a time only, instead of the full five.

Ultimately, start small to learn what you are comfortable with. We’ve prepped this way for over a year and have never had issues with food going bad. There were some things that just weren’t tasty after a day, but those were experimental and things we won’t do again. Okay, so it was the one time I tried making roasted radishes. The internet made it look tasty but I do not recommend. Ever.

meal prep

Meal Prep Resources

Workweek Lunch

meal prep

My all-time favorite meal prep resource. Talia, founder of Workweek Lunch, provides kitchen-tested meal prep recipes, sized and ready for you to cook. The website is full of free recipes, but to unlock all of the meal prep potential, including weekly meal plans complete with recipes and a shopping list, a subscription is required. I’d recommend starting with the free recipes if you’re new to prepping and consider a subscription if you’re having difficulty planning what to make each week.

Budget Bytes

Budget Bytes has an entire section on their website dedicated to meal prep recipes. Beth, founder of Budget Bytes, creates tasty recipes on a budget that don’t compromise nutrition or flavor.

The Kitchn

The Kitchn has a great list of meal prep plans to get you started prepping. All the meals are planned out for you, and they give you full recipes and cooking instructions.

Edible Ink

meal prep

Yep, that’s me! I have a growing collection of meal prep recipes available on the website, as well as an ongoing series of posts about meal prep (including this one). I also have two different meal planning templates available as free downloads on the Free Resources page.

Do you meal prep? If not, is it something you’re interested in? Let me know in the comments below.

Until then, happy prepping!

How to Cook Dried Beans | Recipe

This recipe is geared toward the use of an Instant Pot. However, you can make dried beans on the stove as well (soaking will speed up this process).

As meal prep became more of a fixture in my life, I began looking for ways to cook things economically and in large batches. Enter dried beans. Never before had I bought dried beans or thought twice passing them up in the grocery store. Armed with my Instant Pot, I scoured the internet for an easy, fool-proof way to turn dried beans into a delicious component of our weekly meals.

My favorites are black beans, chickpeas and recently, pinto beans. In a pinch, anything available at the store will do.

Typically, I cook the beans as directed below. I remove the beans from the instant pot, making sure to save the “bean juice” for later. It makes a great base for soups and stocks. (Throw your veggie scraps in the Instant Pot with the bean juice, a sprinkle of salt, bay leaves, and enough water to cover, pressure cook on high for 60 minutes, vent, pull out the scraps and voila ready to use stock.)

I like to fry up the cooked beans in my cast iron skillet with some EVOO and spices. They get a crispier exterior and an extra boost of flavor. Yum.

How to Cook Dried Beans in an Instant Pot

Easily cook dried beans without prior soaking by using an Instant Pot.
Course Main Course

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups dried beans
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1 tb dried herbs of choice (bay leaves, basil, oregano, etc.)
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic (or ½ an onion)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Rinse beans under cold water.
  • Add beans, water, herbs and garlic or onion to the Instant Pot.
  • Place lid and ensure valve is set to sealing.
  • Cook on High Pressure for the following times:
    – Mung Beans: 6 minutes
    – Pinto Beans: 25 minutes
    – Navy Beans: 30 minutes
    – Black Beans: 30 minutes
    – Great Northern Bean: 35 minutes
    – Kidney Beans: 35 minutes
    – Garbanzo/Chickpea: 40 minutes
  • Allow natural release until pressure subsides and pin drops OR let rest for 20 minutes before quick release.
  • Stir in salt and apple cider vinegar. The salt adds flavor. Apple cider vinegar helps to neutralize gas that often comes with eating beans.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove beans from Instant Pot. Reserve some liquid for storing the beans. You can also use the bean liquid as a base for vegetable broth, stock or soups.
    Allow the beans to cool completely before storing.

Notes

Recipe adapted from A Mind Full Mom.
Keyword dried beans, how to cook dried beans, instant pot dried beans

How to Create a Menu for Meal Prep | Lifestyle

There are seemingly infinite meal prep resources available today. From meal kit services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, to specialty services like Sun Basket, and meal prep delivery like Catered Fit, the options seem endless. Additionally, a multitude of social media gurus offer services that provide you with a fully outlined menu to follow, like Workweek Lunch, including specialized meal prep recipes.

For residents of the Central Coast, check out a great local meal prep resource: Clean Machine Meals. Created by a local chef who worked at restaurants like Thomas Hill Organics, these are fully prepared meals delivered directly to you. Worth it!

If, however, you’re looking to experiment on your own, and perhaps hone your meal prep and planning skills, the remainder of this article is for you!

I’ve included the top four questions I consider when creating my own meal prep menus. By shaping your meal prep utilizing the following four parameters, you are more likely to create and stick to a plan that works for you. The answers you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Of course, it is always important to keep the purpose of your meal prep in mind. Be it saving money, having more free time with family, eating healthy or simply trying something new. After all, this meal prep is for YOU and it should be whatever you need it to be. Decide first what need meal prep fulfills in your life. From there, answer the questions below and let your meal prep “preparation” grow!

If you feel stuck or lacking inspiration, I recommend following some meal prep accounts on your social media, like Instagram or Pinterest. You never know what may serve to inspire!

This article series aims to make meal prep & planning more accessible, less daunting and maybe provide the inspiration and courage you need to try it for yourself. Let’s get to it!

Bonus: This article was featured on the Feed Feed!

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

When planning a menu, consider these four questions.

1. What do you want to eat?

2. What’s in the pantry you can create a meal around?

3. How much time do you have to assemble the meal?

4. How much time do you want to spend prepping?

Photo by Iamngakan eka on Pexels.com

Below, we’ll get into detail about the reasoning behind each of these questions and some examples of how you may answer them to fit your lifestyle. But generally, these are the four things in the front of my mind when I plan out my meal prep for the week. Now, I’m sure you’ve thought of what it may be like to plan a menu for the week — but let’s take it a step further real quick. I also have a tendency to plan my “execution” of the menu, aka I plan out how I’m going to cook my meal prep. This keeps things running as smoothly as possible, which means less time spent on prep and more time spent on life! More on that another time.

Let’s break down the first task of meal prep — creating a menu.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

Question 1: What do you want to eat?

There’s nothing less motivating in meal prep than cooking meals you have no interest in consuming. No matter how “healthy” or diet-friendly the meal may be, if you don’t want to eat it, sitting down for lunch will be excruciating, not exciting! ~Not to mention you’ll be less likely to stick to it if you dread every meal~

So first, we consider the most basic question. What sounds good to you? Start by brainstorming from some of your favorite cuisines (like Mexican or Italian) or by your favorite dishes (let’s say Chicken Alfredo, for example). Once you have an idea of what type of food you’d like to eat, you can search for recipes similar to it, and create your meal prep around it.

Be sure to include dietary restrictions (voluntary or otherwise) in this first step. I’m lactose intolerant so it would be a very BAD idea for me to pursue a classic Chicken Alfredo meal prep. Instead, I’d use some dairy-free alternatives, or even look to vegan recipes. If, for example, you love Chicken Alfredo but are on a keto diet, you could look to do a pasta replacement (I really like Banza) for a low-carb version of Chicken Alfredo and it would work great for you!

It may be equally helpful for you to create a short list of things you do not like and have no interest in eating. For example, cilantro may be the most divisive, controversial herb of all time. If making a big batch to share with others throughout the week, leave the controversial ingredients on the side.

If your goal for meal prep is to get healthy and/or pursue fat loss, that’s great! Construct your meal prep around low-fat recipes, or whichever specified parameters are dictated by your diet. On the other hand, if you are meal prepping because you don’t want to cook every night, that’s great too! Meal prep doesn’t have to be about eating healthy or losing weight. Only if you want it to be.

Photo by junjie xu on Pexels.com

Question 2: What’s in the pantry you can create a meal around?

After deciding what type of food you want to prepare, check your own grocery store first! Not the Aldi down the street, I mean open up your cupboard, root around the pantry, dig in the freezer and see what you have on hand first. Maybe there’s a box of Mediterranean Lentil Mix that you’ve had for six months. Maybe it’s time to use all those cans of kidney beans.

Chili’s, soups and “bowl” meals are super ways to use frozen produce and canned items that have, perhaps, overstayed their welcome in your kitchen.

Not to mention, most chili’s and soups can be easily executed in large batches in a Crock Pot or Instant Pot, saving you that much more time in prep!

Personally, I receive the Talley Farms Fresh Harvest Box each week. It’s packed full of fresh produce, either grown on Talley Farms or procured from other local farmers. I build my weekly meal prep around the box! Check your local farms to see if they do something similar, and if you are slocal, check out the Harvest Box.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Question 3: How much time will you have to heat up / assemble the meal?

You know what you want to eat, and maybe even have some of the ingredients in your pantry already. Great! What’s next? Consider this: how much time do you actually want to spend reheating and/or assembling at each meal?

Let’s take two extremes, both meal preps I have done: Salad Vs. Tacos.

Salad: Requires NO heat, simply dress and serve. Takes less than five minutes to plate and serve. No reheating time. Easy to assemble quickly, and its great to have on hand when you’ve only got thirty minutes between coming home from work and leaving for nightly activities.

Tacos: You can prep the taco meat, and precut all of the toppings. However, tortillas need to be heated (for soft tacos) or fried (for crunchy). The taco meat needs to be heated, and all of the toppings need to be set out/made available for personal taco dressing. One option to cut back on assembly time is to use store-bought crunchy taco shells. Either way, taco assembly still takes more time than dressing a salad. But it can be a very fun and interactive way to dinner.

Both are great meals, are extremely versatile in what type of ingredients go in them, and can be used for lunch or dinner. However, the big difference is how long it takes to get dinner on the table. If you have some time after work, the tacos are worth it. First of all, because who doesn’t want tacos for dinner every night? And second, having the tacos assembled fresh makes it feel less like meal prep, and more like you just made dinner in half the time! It all depends on what works best for you.

Keep it personal. Look to others for inspiration, but ultimately, don’t be afraid to modify based on your own needs!

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Question 4: How much time do you have to spend/want to spend prepping?

One pot or sheet pan meals can be super useful, not to mention time-saving, especially when you are just beginning to develop a meal prep habit! Break out the slow cooker to whip up a batch of pulled pork and roast some veggies in the oven, or take to the internet for a slew of sheet pan, one pot, instant pot and/or crock pot meal recipes.

REMINDER:

You don’t *have* to make everything from scratch

in order to “successfully” meal prep.

Making meal prep semi-homemade by starting with a base of rotisserie chicken, or prediced vegetables, even steam-in-a bag microwave rice can give you just enough extra time to make meal prep worth your while! Once it becomes a habit, the time flies by and it’s really just another part of life, like laundry, but more fun because of course, you have to taste test everything.

To start slow, commit to ONE meal-prepped meal per week. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, commit to making it meal-prep and feel it out. Making that one meal ahead of time can be the difference between waking up early to make breakfast, or taking a morning walk instead. You may find that meal prep affords you so much extra time during that week that the few hours you spend on it during the weekend is completely worth it!

Whatever your goal for meal prep, make it your own.

Feel free to experiment, and as always, contact me with any questions! I’d love to hear your feedback and any more questions you’d like to see covered in next month’s Meal Prep article.

Til then, Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Pork Bolognese Meal Prep | Recipe

Let’s not pretend spaghetti squash is actual pasta — you won’t fool me for a second. But, if we can accept spaghetti squash for the vegetable it is, we can easily transform it in to a delicious spaghetti & sugo (sauce) inspired recipe suitable for a low-carb meal prep lunch or family dinner.

There are two main elements to this recipe — the squash and the sauce. I’ve included a basic recipe for a chunky, vegetable-heavy sugo packed with herbs and spices. It can easily be made vegetarian by substituting sunburst squash, tofu or tempeh for the pork stew meat.

If you have a microwave, try using it for the spaghetti squash! In order to safely slice open the squash to remove the seeds, it must be either par-roasted in the oven, or softened in the microwave. This recipe uses the oven method, simply because I don’t have a microwave. However, here’s a link to the microwave method. The important part is that you soften it somehow, as cutting into a raw spaghetti squash is comparable to attempting to slice a rock with a butter knife.

Sauce can be made in crockpot, instant pot or on the stove. Choose the method that works best for you! Remember adjust as necessary to accommodate your own tastes and needs. As a meal prep recipe, this is highly flexible and adaptable. Add or remove any seasonings listed in the recipe to suit personal preference. Similarly, swap out any vegetables or add any sauce essentials! Have fun with it and enjoy!

Serves: 4-5 people.

Meal Prep Yield: 5 meals for 1 person.

INGREDIENTS

For the Squash

  • 2 small/medium spaghetti squash. (Here’s how to pick ’em.)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • 1 TB each salt and pepper.

For the Sauce

  • 1 lb pork stew meat, cut into bite-sized pieces.* {sub: 1 lb peeled summer squash/zuchinni/eggplant or 1 lb pressed, crumbled tofu or tempeh.}
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar.
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled & minced.
  • 1 cup chopped green, white or red onion.
  • 1/4 cup roasted peppers.
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot.
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil.
  • 2-3 cans diced tomatoes.
  • 1 can pureed tomatoes.
  • 1 TB each salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, parsley, oregano, fennel seed, 1/2 tsp allspice; then season to taste.

For Serving (optional):

  • Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese* {sub: Nutritional Yeast}
  • Fresh chopped parsley, stems removed.
  • Red pepper flakes.

DIRECTIONS

1. PREPARE THE SQUASH.

Use the microwave method, found here. Or, use oven:

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Make several small cuts in the flesh of the squash (essentially, stab the squash multiple times all over). Place in a roasting pan.
  • Roast about 10-15 minutes until the squash is soft enough to slice safely. Using a towel to protect your hand from the heat, slice the squash lengthwise in half. Scoop out seeds (they can be rinsed and roasted if desired). Drizzle with olive oil and rub into flesh. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Roast another 30-40 minutes until tender (fork tender). Make sauce in the meantime. When finished, remove from oven and let cool.

2. PREPARE THE SAUCE.

This can easily be done in a crock pot or instant pot. Simply cook the pork stew meat according to the directions below, then add to crock pot/instant pot with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for 4 hours (instant pot = slow cook, no pressure), taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. To cook on stovetop, follow directions below:

  • Heat a heavy bottomed sauce pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle olive oil in bottom of pan to coat. Sear the pork meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper. {If using other squash/tofu/tempeh, fry briefly in the olive oil with salt and pepper, then remove from pot and set aside.} Reduce heat and cover, allowing to fully cook through. Remove from pot and set aside. Don’t clean the pot!
  • Add olive oil, garlic, green onions, peppers and carrot to pot. Saute over medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add tomatoes, vinegar, basil and seasonings along with a pinch of sugar for balance.
  • Allow to come to simmer, then add the pork meat back into pot. Simmer on medium low heat for 20 minutes so flavors can come together. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

3. COMBINE & SERVE.

Use a fork to fluff the spaghetti squash into noodles.

  • If eating immediately: combine squash with sauce in pan and heat before serving. Plate and top with grated pecorino, red pepper flakes and fresh parsley if desired.
  • If using for meal prep: scoop squash into containers, portioning as desired. Spoon sauce over top. If you have sauce left over, cover and refrigerate to use within two weeks. Or, freeze for later use.

Enjoy!