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.
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
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
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.
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:
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)
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.
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!