I FINALLY MEAL-PREPPED AND HECK YES I’M HERE TO GLOA- I MEAN, HELP YOU
Picture this: it’s the first Monday back at work at the start of the New Year. The sun is shining. I’m wearing a jaunty new outfit and clicky high heels. I saunter into the office, a cute canvas bag over one shoulder. Someone asks me “what are you getting for lunch today, Gilly?” and I reply “Nothing. I brought my own.”
People applaud. They stand and cheer. I curtsey graciously before heading to the fridge to put my pre-prepared box of goodness away.
Yep, that’s pretty much exactly how it went down, as far as I remember. And this could also be you!
I have, in my very extensive (three weeks) of meal prepping, gleaned a few insights into this crazy world of organisation and hardcore grown-up behaviour, and I’m here to help you join the ranks of the financially-wise healthy eaters. I’m basically the Mary Poppins of lunches and I’m here to take you on a wonderful culinary adventure. There may or may not be singing penguins.
Firstly: let’s keep it very simple. You want food that can be prepared in advance and won’t lose its freshness after a few days in the fridge. I googled “vegetarian meal prep ideas” (yes, I’m vegetarian, it’s been almost a year, no I’m not the best one ever, yes I do occasionally still eat fish, no I really don’t mind if you eat meat, please do go ahead, I know I used to eat my steak blue, isn’t that funny, now let’s not get sidetracked. We’ll talk about it later) and found some inspiration – then dived right in! I started off with some buddha bowls – super easy to prep and not really that much actual cooking involved. I will include the shopping list/recipe at the end of this post, because I am nice like that.
Secondly: think about transport. Have you ever taken a non-airtight container in a non-waterproof shopping bag full of pungent liquid food – let’s say a Panang curry, just as a random example – on public transport, where it’s leaked onto your pale pink skirt? No? Ok. Yeah, cool. Only an idiot would do something like that. ANYWAY. The point of all this is to say: think about how you’re going to get your food to your place of work. Do you have any tupperware? Now is the time, my friends. Adulthood beckons and we must embrace its high-quality food storage options. Spit spot etc.
Thirdly: make something you look forward to eating. This sounds silly, I know. But if your workplace is anything like mine, lunchtime will roll around and suddenly there will be mutterings of noodles and sushi and burgers and HOT CHIPS and the only way you’re going to stay strong is if you know there’s something fresh and delicious awaiting you in the fridge. You also are going to need to want to eat it four or five days in a row. A challenge, I know. I get bored easily when it comes to food, so I made each day’s meal a little different. I also didn’t use any kale or raw mushrooms even though the recipe suggested it, because I detest both of those things. Also… maybe get or make yourself a healthy treat, like a bliss ball, to deter visits to the chocolate box. This enterprise has been semi-successful for me but I shall persevere.
Fourthly: build it into your schedule. One of the most challenging parts of meal prep for me has been keeping Sunday afternoons/evenings free to get on with it. That time has always been reserved for yoga (sometimes) or the pub with mates (a lot of the time). But part of my whole 2019 schtick is making healthier choices, and spending a couple of hours cooking on a Sunday has proven beneficial for my mental, physical and financial health. I am going to try SO hard to keep it up. So.. just make time! Maybe it’s Sunday morning so you can keep your pub appointment! But make it a standing commitment. I believe in you. We can do this together.
Fifthly: have a day off, or make a couple of different things. I find by day 5 of the same thing for lunch, both the lunch and I are a bit tired. So Fridays I have leftovers or takeaway and I don’t feel a bit guilty. It makes the whole thing much more sustainable! OR, I make two different things on Sunday so I can alternate. World’s your oyster. Probably wouldn’t do oysters though. They don’t keep well.
LUNCHTIME BUDDHA BOWLS
The inspiration for the Korean BBQ chickpeas came from a google search that led me to this great recipe: https://www.yummymummykitchen.com/2018/03/korean-bbq-chickpea-bento-bowls.html. I’ve made it a little different/simpler but felt that I should acknowledge the source!
5 x cups cooked brown rice
2 x tbsp sushi seasoning
1 x packet marinated tofu (your choice of flavour!)
1 x can chickpeas
5 x big handfuls mixed chopped fresh veggies – I used sugar snap peas, carrots, capsicum, red onion and cheery tomatoes but you do you honey! Whatever floats your fresh veggie boat!
1 x packet sesame seeds
For the BBQ marinade:
1 x tbsp tamari
1 x tbsp brown sugar
1/2 x tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 x cloves minced garlic
2 x tbsp finely chopped red onion (I actually forgot this but it was still fine!)
Salt n pepaaaa (push it push it)
As far as I’m concerned these quantities are all pretty fluid – taste as you go!
- Cook the rice (although IF you’d read my list you’d see it says “cooked” and this would be done already… 10 points to Gryffindor if so). Dress with sushi seasoning and refrigerate immediately. Rice is a DANGER FOOD. (Bacteria grow real easy so you want it to be either very very hot or very very cold. I may have just saved your life so you are WELCOME).
- Preheat oven to 180C (this should probably be step one. Sorry, I’ve had some wine.)
- Spread your chickpeas over baking paper on an oven tray. Mix the marinade ingredients in a small jug/bowl and pour about half over the chickpeas. Save the rest for later!
- Roast the chickpeas for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown and crispy. DON’T do what I did which is wander off and start an episode of The Good Place and come back to half of them blackened and the smoke alarm going off.
- Slice and panfry your tofu. I like mine very very well-cooked!
- Chop your veggies if you haven’t already (10 more points if you have!)
- Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan on a medium heat for 5 minutes, tossing frequently.
- In your pre-prepared Tupperware containers assemble your bowls with a cup of rice, a cup of veg, and either a serve of tofu or chickpeas. Dress with a spoonful of marinade and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bask in the glory of your fully-fledged adulthood!
(pic is at the very top. SORRY. It was my best pic and I wanted it to be the header!)