Healthy Recipes You can Prep in Advance

Happy National Food Day!!

National Food Day is observed annually on October 24. One of the targets that Food Day aims to help people is to “Eat Real,” which is defined by them as “cutting back on sugar drinks, overly salted packaged foods and fatty, factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and sustainably raised protein.”  National Food Day involves some of the country’s most prominent food activists, united by a vision of food that can be healthy, affordable and produced with care for the environment, farm animals and the people who grow, harvest and serve it. 

So, in an effort to “eat real” I’m sharing 3 meals that are full of veggies, plant protein, are inexpensive, easy to prep in advance, & taste great!

Pasta Night

What you need: basically any veggies you have on hand will work, the idea is to make the dish heavy on the veggies & light on the pasta. I used broccoli, bell peppers, 1/2 onion, some cauliflower I had leftover, can of diced tomatoes, & fresh tomatoes. Eggplant is also another fabulous veggie to add! You will need a box of your favorite pasta, basil or Italian seasoning, garlic, pasta sauce (not in pic), & a little fresh basil to add at the end.

To prep in advance: I like to use a ziplock bag & sharpie to help prep my meals…it’s extremely user-friendly, simply write the ingredients that you need to prep in advance. For pasta night I needed to wash and cut veggies into bite sizes. Placed in ziplock bag, made certain I wrote pasta night on the can of diced tomatoes & pasta box so neither was used for another meal.

Day of the meal: put foil on roasting pan, preheat oven to 400, open bag, dump veggies on pan, & roast veggies for 25 minutes.

Remove, place veggies in large pan on range at low-medium heat. Add can of tomatoes, basil/Italian seasoning, pasta sauce and cook with lid on for 10 minutes stirring every few minutes. Meanwhile boil pasta. When pasta is done add it to pan with the veggies, stir, remove and place in 13×9 Pyrex (or whatever dish you have on hand), stir in fresh basil, & enjoy!

Sweet Potato, Chickpea, & Coconut Curry

What you need: cauliflower, 2 sweet potatoes, 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, fresh ginger if possible or 2 teaspoons ginger seasoning, can diced tomatoes, can chickpeas, can of coconut milk, 2 teaspoons curry seasoning, turmeric, cinnamon, & chili powder. Cilantro & lime (optional)

To prep in advance: clean & cut cauliflower, sweet potatoes, & onion into bit sizes and place in ziplock bag. Label cans for curry night so that they don’t get used for anything else. Place ziplock bag in fridge.

Day of the meal: take bag of veggies out of fridge and place veggies on foil covered sheet pan, roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven & place in a deep pan on top of the range at medium heat. Add diced tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, garlic, ginger & seasonings. Cook for 1/2 hour stirring occasionally. While it’s cooking make brown rice.

Taste…add more seasoning if you wish, depends how you like it & who you are cooking for, children don’t like it too spicy. You can always leave seasonings on the table for people to add to their individual dish. Place rice in bowls, add cauliflower, sweet potato, & coconut curry on top of rice and garnish with cilantro & lime (optional) and enjoy!

Teriyaki Stir-fry

What you need: broccoli, carrots, green beans, red and orange bell peppers, 1/3 of an onion, brown rice, rice noodles, pineapple (optional), bottle of favorite stir-fry sauce. (Chosen Foods, in the organic section at Kroger has some delicious options)

To prep in advance: clean all veggies, cut broccoli into bite sized pieces, slice peppers lengthwise, & dice onion. Place all veggies in ziplock bag.

Day of meal: remove veggies and place in a deep pan on top of range at medium heat. Add preferred sauce and cook for roughly 25 minutes, until veggies are tender. If you are including pineapple, clean & slice it, place on grate on top of a sheet pan, roast at 450 for 15/20 minutes. Cook rice and/or rice noodles. Serve & enjoy!

Bonus:here are some snacks you can prep in advance….

Do you have a favorite “real food” dish your family loves? Please share.

Filling the Freezer: Easy and Budget friendly Italian Cuisine

Every few weeks I try to prepare a few dishes that I can place in our freezer.  It is always comforting to know on those crazy days when I simply don’t have the energy to cook, when our kiddos have events in the evening, when unexpected company joins us for dinner, or when I, or my husband, have a meeting in the evening that there is a meal already prepared in the freezer. 

A couple of weeks ago I prepared Italian inspired cuisine to place in the freezer that definitely came in handy! I prepare Baked Ziti, Veggie Lasagna, Manicotti, and Meat Balls.  Which were each very easy to prepare and were budget friendly so I instantly thought, I have got to share these with other moms! So without further ado….

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Baked Ziti

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of ziti or penne pasta
  • 1 Egg                       
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 jar commercial spaghetti sauce (whichever kind is on sale or you prefer)
  • 2 cups Mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (to be used after it is baked)

Directions:

Follow directions on box of ziti or penne pasta to boil. Once the pasta is boiled, drained, and then place in pan 13 x 9 pan that is freezer friendly. Beat 1 egg and pour over pasta, mix it.  Sautee onions then mix onions, spaghetti pasta, and 1 cup of Mozzarella together.

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Pour mixture over pasta and mix so that sauce covers all the pasta. Sprinkle remaining Mozzarella over the top. Cover with aluminum foil. Label, date, and add directions with a permanent marker (this makes it effortless for your hubby, sitter, etc. to pull it out of the freezer and prepare).

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Enjoy!

I know we did. The Baked Ziti I made was enjoyed with my in-laws who came over to celebrate my birthday.

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Manicotti (image above)

I joined a cooking club in November and this Manicotti dish was one of the meals we made. It was so delicious that I have added it to my fill the freezer regime. This is a dish I have managed to master after preparing a few times. At first it can be tricky stuffing the Manicotti but after some trial and error I am sure you will find your own technique.

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For the Manicotti recipe click here to be directed towards Lilly’s Kitchen Lab.

Our Manicotti dish came in handy the evening I taped Moms’ Timeout.

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Italian Meat Balls

These are perfect for Spaghetti night or meat ball subs. Meat ball subs are one of my hubby’s favorite lunches.  If you freeze these in Ziploc bags you can divide them in serving sizes so that you can simply grab 3 meat balls to heat up with sauce and place on a sub with some Mozzarella.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb of ground meat (turkey or beef)
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2T bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 2tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced

Directions: Mix everything together in a bowl and then form into 2inch balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (make sure they are cooked through).  Let cool completely and then divide into bags per your meal plans.

Enjoy!

Like I said, my hubby adores meat ball subs thus; these went to a few subs over the past few weeks. I love the fact that he can have a hot meal for lunch and I don’t have to cook.

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Veggie Lasagna / Lasagna Roll-up

This is by far my personal favorite! I like to prepare these as roll-ups because they are much easier to serve though it does take a little longer to prepare but I think it is worth it. For the Lasagna recipe and some yummy bread to accompany it click here.

And last but not least, make this fun, put on some music, (I prefer the Lumineers ) and grab a glass of wine while you prepare…try some Julia Child lingo…make it fun!

Bon appetite!

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