Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

A few months ago, I wrote this post about how I go about my meal prep for a week of healthy eating. Since then, so many of you expressed how helpful it was so I’m back here again with a fall version. I love this season because the produce is so beautiful and cozy… it all just makes me want to get into the kitchen and cook! To me, there’s nothing better than the smell of squash and onions roasting away in the oven.

We’re partnering with Wolf to bring you these tips as part of their Reclaim the Kitchen initiative. This topic is near and dear to my heart because I actually used to hate cooking… or rather I thought I hated to cook until I found my kitchen bliss.

It turns out I wasn’t alone. Wolf conducted a “State of Cooking in America” survey to pinpoint some of American’s cooking attitudes and behaviors so they can help provide solutions to the problem. These statistics may sound surprising to you, but I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced them at some time or another:

– Nearly three in ten adults (28%) have spent more than one hour thinking about what to make for dinner, then ended up ordering takeout.

– One-fifth of adults would rather work late than cook.

– Nearly one-quarter of 18-34 year olds (23%) indicate not being able to put together a meal with what is in their fridge and pantry is a reason why they haven’t cooked even when they had the time.

In time, I’ve realized that putting together meals was not as overwhelming as I thought. Cooking at the end of a hard day was just the thing I needed – the act of chopping vegetables helped me relieve my stress, putting together colorful vegetables helped me feel creative, and then enjoying a home cooked meal with my husband helped me feel connected.

Now onto my fall game plan!

I’m going to walk you through my shopping & prepping strategy, followed by 3 easy dinner ideas.

Step 1: Start with seasonal produce

I started with the beautiful vegetables pictured at the top of the post – sweet potatoes, squash, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, apples, kale, onions, and leeks.

Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

Step 2: Stock up on some basics
These are things I generally try to keep in my pantry:

– Grains like farro or quinoa, soba noodles, or whole grain pastas
– Proteins like chickpeas, eggs, or tofu (or any protein you like)
– Pantry basics like olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, tahini, maple syrup, and tamari
– Extras like nuts, seeds, and dried cranberries
– And a few fresh basics: lemons (of course!), limes, garlic, and ginger

  Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

Step 3: Make a sauce to have on hand

I will commonly make a sauce once and use it over multiple meals throughout the week. I made a maple apple cider tahini sauce for the delicata squash grain salad, then I changed up the flavor by adding sesame oil and ginger for the next night’s soba bowl meal. The sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.

maple tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon maple syrup
6 tablespoons warm water, more as needed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

Step 4: Roast the vegetables

You can roast your vegetables all at once and store them in your fridge to have handy for salads and grain bowls throughout the week, or you can roast them as-needed for each recipe below. I prefer to roast as-needed for dinners and save the leftovers for easy toss-together lunches.

To roast: toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 375° F until golden brown. The timing will depend on the vegetable. I also roast chickpeas while I’m at it – you should too.

Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

Step 5: Make a grain to have on hand

This time I went with farro. I love this chewy, nutty grain for fall. I cook it like pasta in a pot of boiling water until it’s tender but still chewy and not mushy. Its cooking time varies greatly – sometimes it’s done in 20 minutes, sometimes 45. Just watch it and taste. Make a bunch and store the extra in the fridge.

And now here are 3 simple meals that I put together that build on each other:

Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

1. Roasted Delicata Squash Salad

Thinly slice a small bunch of kale and massage it with a drizzle of olive oil, minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. Toss in some farro and a healthy drizzle of the tahini sauce. Assemble salads with roasted chickpeas, roasted squash, roasted onions, chopped apples and dried cranberries. Season to taste. (Get the full detailed recipe here)

Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

2. Soba Bowls with Roasted Broccoli

Start with your leftover tahini sauce and add a drizzle of sesame oil and some minced ginger. Cook your soba noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse them to keep them from getting gloopy. Toss the noodles with a bit of sesame oil and a generous scoop of the tahini sauce. Top bowls with roasted broccoli, roasted sweet potato, tofu (optional: sesame seeds and avocado). Serve with the remaining tahini sauce and lime slices.

Fall Weeknight Meal Planning Tips

3. Farro Fried Rice

This is a great way to use up leftover farro from recipe #1.

Heat oil in a medium skillet, add sliced leeks and a pinch of salt and sauté until soft. Add shredded Brussels sprouts and cook until soft and golden. Add minced garlic, ginger and rice vinegar and toss. Add the farro, a drizzle of tamari (or soy sauce). Cook until warmed through and season to taste. Serve with a fried egg, chopped green onions and sriracha on the side. (alternatively, you could mix a scrambled egg into your fried rice). Click to see the full recipe.

For more handy kitchen tips, recipes, and inspiration visit: reclaimthekitchen.com

This post is sponsored by Wolf, thank you for supporting the sponsors that keep us cooking!

10 Favorite Soup Season Recipes

Cauliflower Minestrone with Kale Pesto (vegan, gluten free) untitled-1 Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder

First off, I owe a huge THANK YOU to all of you who nominated and voted for us in this year’s Saveur Blog awards – we won!

Now to celebrate with… soup! I spent the past few weeks in Chicago where I watched summer turn to fall over night. One day we were eating corn on the back patio, the next morning I was hugging a hot bowl of oatmeal. Yes, I am the biggest wimp when there is even the slightest bit of chill in the air. I’m back in sunny Austin now but I caught this cold on the airplane and now all I can think about is tea and soup. Here are 10 of my favorites that would hit the spot right about now. (Click on the photos to go to each recipe)

pictured above:
Cauliflower Minestrone with Kale Pesto
Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder

Red Curry Lemongrass Soup

Red Curry Lemongrass Soup

Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto (vegan & gluten free)

Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto

Ribollita (Tuscan White Bean Soup)

Ribollita (Tuscan White Bean Soup) 

Red Lentil Sweet Potato Stew

Curried Red Lentil Sweet Potato Stew

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Butternut Squash Black Bean Chili

Easy Vegetarian Pho (vegan & gluten free)

Easy Vegetarian Pho

Creamy White Bean & Tomato Soup (vegan & gluten free)

Creamy White Bean & Tomato Soup

Butternut Squash Kale & Quinoa Stew

Butternut Squash, Kale & Quinoa Stew

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes / loveandlemons.com

It’s that time of year again – time for my annual non-turkey turkey day recipe roundup. Whether you’re a Thanksgiving traditionalist, an all side-dish-eater, or you have a family member that just turned vegetarian, here are a few of my favorite healthier holiday recipes that will hopefully spark a bit of inspiration.

Pictured above:
Fig & Feta Crostini
Carrot Soup (vegan & gf)
Kale & Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing (vegan)
Fennel Salad with Walnuts & Avocado (vegan & gf)
Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (vegan & gf)

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes / loveandlemons.com

Pictured above:
Avocado & Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash (Gluten Free, vegan optional)
Easy Vegan Apple Crisp (vegan)
Tart Cherry Grilled Cheese with Sage (or sub cranberries here)
Loaded Sweet Potato Avocado Toast (vegan)

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes / loveandlemons.com

Sweet Potato Recipes

Sweet Potato Recipes / loveandlemons.com

What’s your favorite fall vegetable? If you’re not saying “sweet potatoes!” with an exclamation, then, well, you might want to switch over to another post.

My favorite has to be the almighty and ever-so-versatile sweet potato. I love the way my kitchen smells when I roast them and I love how they’re easier to cut (without injury) than most squashes. For some sweet inspiration, here are some of our favorite recipes:

Pictured above: Sweet Potato & Brussels Sprout Skillet

Sweet Potato Tahini Crostini / Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Recipes / loveandlemons.com

Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos / Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad

Sweet Potato Quinoa Quesadillas

…and a bunch more in the Sweet Potato section of our recipe index (click!)

Sweet Quinoa Quesadillas / loveandlemons.com

Healthy Winter Squash Recipes

Healthy Winter Squash Recipes / www.loveandlemons.com

Are you feeling as stuffed as I am? This year we actually celebrated Thanksgiving a week early with Jack’s family – yet I’m still full from his mom’s amazing apple pie and the leftovers we’ve been snacking on all week.

This weekend, I’m craving food that’s a little bit healthier but still comforting and delicious so I thought I’d share just a few ideas:

Butternut Squash & Leek Risotto (pictured)

Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas & Kale (pictured)

Butternut Squash & Tart Cherry Quinoa

Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad

Roasted Acorn Squash with Pears and Miso Dressing from Edible Perspective

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Kale Pesto from The First Mess

Butternut Squash Lasagna from My New Roots

Stuffed Za’atar Roasted Acorn Squash from Dolly and Oatmeal

Kale and Roasted Red Kuri Squash Salad from A House in the Hills

Northern Spy’s Kale Salad from Food 52

Roasted Delicata Squash Salad from 101 Cookbooks