Quick and easy weekday meal ideas

Can someone please explain to me how the summer is officially over this week? Tell me that I’m not the only one who feels like it was over way too quickly.

Between work, exercising, and socializing, I have been spending as little time in the kitchen as possible. You’d think that the longer days would equate to having more time to get things done each day. You’d think.

Sure, there are days when I have the time and energy to make delicious meals with things like Comforting Chickpea CurrySoul Soothing Split Pea SoupMoroccan Chicken or Red Chard and Leek Tarts… but those days were few and far between this summer.

Despite my lack of free time, I’ve managed to keep up eating my lunches and dinners at home throughout the majority of the week. It hasn’t been easy by any means, but I’ve managed to do it for the most part thanks to some planning and a little bit of stovetop action. Want to know how I do it? Of course you do (right!?).

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The Breakfast Smoothie

There was a time in my life when I declared that nothing would make me happier than eating a bowl of oatmeal in some form for breakfast every single day. Apparently I didn’t know myself as well as I thought. After a year of eating oatmeal on a daily basis, I got to the point where the thought and taste of it made me want to gag. The oatmeal would sit like a rock in my stomach and the texture just stopped appealing to me. Tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way? Maybe this will change once the weather starts cooling down again… we’ll see. But for the past few months, I’ve been on a major smoothie kick. Most days, I begin my day with an early morning work out and because of this, I find breakfast a lot easier to stomach when it’s in liquid form. While there are countless smoothie recipes available online, here’s what I’ve been blending up in the mornings.

  • 1/2 cup “liquid” (usually a mix of kefir, greek yogurt, nut milk for the lactose challenged like me)
  • 1/2 cup (or a generous handful) of fruit (I alternate between mixed berries, cherries, strawberries, peaches, etc)
  • 1 scoop vegan protein powder (I’ve been alternating between Sun Warrior and Progressive)
  • 1 scoop of greens powder (I’ve been alternating between Progressive and Amazing Grass chocolate flavour)
  • peanut butter, nut butter or coconut butter (1-2 tsp)
  • 1-2 T chia seeds
  • 1 T fresh ginger

Lately I’ve been adding half a frozen banana into the mix for a nice change. I also like my smoothies to be really thick so I don’t put as much liquid in mine and I eat it with a spoon. Another thing I’ve been doing is sprinkling some Kamut Puffs cereal on top. If you like your smoothies to be more thin and “drinkable”, add more liquid until it reaches your desired consistency.

In the mix: Unsweetened almond milk, plain kefir, frozen mixed berries, chia seeds, greens powder, chocolate protein powder, and coconut butter.

In the mix: Kefir, frozen banana, cherries, chocolate protein powder, chocolate greens powder, fresh ginger, and homemade peanut butter. Enjoyed with puffed kamut cereal and some dried cherries.

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Ahhh, the workday lunch. I happen to work in an area that offers countless options for lunch – at very reasonable prices. This includes healthy food options that will only set you back a few extra dollars. Despite that, I’ve grown bored of pretty much everything nearby which I suppose happens when you’re inundated with variety. The abundance of similar complaints coming from my coworkers on this very situation tells me that I’m not alone here.

The Fresh-inspired Bowl

The Macro Greens bowl dressed like a Jeruselum bowl (with hummus and the dressing) is my favourite thing to order at Fresh. I know it’s not the most innovative meal out there, but it’s so simple, filling, and delicious. And really, even if you could make it for yourself at home, sometimes food tastes better when you didn’t have to slave over a hot stove to make it. Am I right?

Eventually though, I had to admit that my Fresh visits were getting a little out of hand. I also realized (grudgingly) that I was perfectly capable of crafting something similar at home.  Once I bit the bullet, I developed a pretty fool-proof “method” for putting together Fresh-like bowls for my weekday meals.

  • Step 1: Pick a vegetable base – lately it’s been steamed kale, chard, and broccoli. Whatever looks great at the grocery store.
  • Step 2: Decide on a protein – sometimes it’s animal (chicken, salmon), and sometimes it’s plant-based (lentils, chickpeas, quinoa)
  • Step 3: Buy (YES – I said buy!) a big tub of spicy hummus from Longo’s at work — it is so good, I don’t care if you can make your own hummus at home. I recently discovered a black olive hummus which is right up there in deliciousness as well.

Most of the time, I’ll do my prep on Sundays, sometimes Mondays depending on my schedule. Once I’ve steamed my vegetables and prepared my protein source for the week, I’ll pack them up and store in the fridge. Every morning, I’ll throw in some vegetables and protein into a glass container before I leave for work. At lunch time, I’ll heat up my “bowl”, slather on globs of hummus and dressing, if using, and eat. It’s pretty much the best lunch ever.

In the mix: green lentils cooked in vegetable broth, fresh corn off the cob, steamed broccoli and kale, oven roasted eggplant and purple sweet potato topped with spicy hummus and homemade chili & herb flaxseed oil dressing.

In the mix: cooked quinoa and millet, steamed chard and kale, oven roasted eggplant and purple sweet potato topped with (lots of!) spicy hummus and homemade chili & herb flaxseed oil dressing.

The Sandwich

I have a love/hate relationship with egg salads. The hate is in reference to runny, mayonnaise-based egg salads. Blech. The love is in reference to my version which is mayo-free. Heaven! I totally respect the fact that some people love mayo, but I am not one of them (unless we’re talking about spicy tuna or salmon rolls). Maybe I’ve just had one too many egg (and tuna) salads that were drenched in mayonnaise. It was not cool and the memories of said “salads” make my stomach turn. I love eggs though – I eat them on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. Yum! Below, I present to you, my favourite way to prepare egg salads.

  • Mayo-free Egg Salad sandwich: Cut up two hard boiled eggs and mix with: dijon mustard, tahini, Sriracha sauce, dried dill, salt, pepper — portions of everything are to taste and I never measure anything.

It’s best served with soft bread and a pickle, if you like that sort of thing. But seriously, why wouldn’t you?

You know what else is delicious? Cheddar cheese (lactose-free for me), spicy hummus (I’m obsessed, deal with it), and a pickle.

The Stir-fry standby.

Ah, dinner. This used to be my most important meal of the day – back when I was  a student completely in charge of my schedule. Now, it’s rare that I am home before 8pm, and usually I am pretty hungry when I do. I’m also impatient. Instead of buying dinner (which I am tempted to do every single night), I have learned that stir-fries are my friend. My best friend. There isn’t really a point in “teaching” you how to stir-fry something — everyone has their own preferences and methods for doing so. But, the below stir-fry was so delicious, that I had to snap a photo of it and share it with you today. Isn’t technology awesome?

I know it looks like a big yellow mess but I assure you it was delicious: fresh corn off the cob, carrots, celery, mushrooms, kale, onion, sauerkraut, one chopped up (homemade) grass-fed ground beef burger patty stuffed with gorgonzola cheese all sauteed in butter, with mustard, Sriracha, turmeric, smoked paprika, and S&P added in at the very end. I ate this over fresh arugula. It was amazing. But if you have been reading my blog for some time, you’ll know that I’ll think anything covered with mustard is amazing.

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So there you have it. With a little bit of planning and simple cooking, even you (yes YOU) can enjoy home-cooked meals on a regular basis. You’re welcome.

The end.

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