Table of contents
WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
This is our weekly meal prep plan. The plan that makes it possible to eat the best tasting meals that are also healthy, easy, and sustainable. We make up a number of things on the weekend during our “once a week prep”, so it’s easy to put together healthy meals during the week. It starts with the basics – making homemade yogurt, oatmeal, garlic olive oil, beans or lentils, quinoa, vinaigrette, and bread. Every week the menu changes because we vary how we make each of these. We use different cultures for making the yogurt, keep a collection of different beans and lentils on hand, and make the vinaigrette with different oils and herbs and vinegars depending on the season. Although we use a basic recipe for the bread, we often add different ingredients which changes the bread completely. Then we use these to make various dishes during the week, adding whatever fruits and vegetables are in season. We don’t have to keep track of what is in season – instead, we shop at the local farmers’ market and they only sell the fruits and vegetables that are currently in season. This guarantees the freshest and best tasting produce without having to know much about how it’s grown.
ONCE A WEEK PREP
- OATMEAL – 55 minutes using the Instant Pot
- GARLIC OLIVE OIL – 30 minutes using the Instant Pot
- BEANS – 45 minutes using the Instant Pot
- CULTURED ITEM – YOGURT, SOUR CREAM, CHEESE OR CREME FRAICHE – 24 hours using the Instant Pot
- VINAIGRETTE – 5 minutes
- BREAD DOUGH – WHOLE WHEAT, FRENCH, OR SWEET – refrigerate for 24 – 48 hours
- QUINOA – 30 minutes on the stove
This might sound like a lot, but each thing only takes a few minutes and then we have the basics for meals available for days. Since we do it on Sunday, we know how long these items have been in the refrigerator. If we need to stock some other items, like toasting nuts or browning butter, we can do these as well. The key is to use the best ingredients- beans from Rancho Gordo, bread flour from King Arthur Baking, McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Milk products from Horizon Organic (and, no, we are not affiliates of any of these companies.)
GROWING AN HERB GARDEN
Growing a few herbs in the backyard adds even more diversity to the meals. We use the flowers as well as the leaves. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh herbs. It helps that they are drought tolerant, easy to grow, and attract bees and butterflies.
TRIP TO THE FARMERS’ MARKET
Our weekly meal prep plan also includes a visit to the farmers’ market, where we get the best tasting produce. And since we have our basics, we can shop like a chef, buying whatever looks good and is in season without having a list or a plan. We know it will fit in with the weekly meal plan because we have a basic idea of what we are having. The trick is knowing how to cook the unfamiliar vegetables you might find, but that’s the adventure part of shopping like this,
OUR BASIC RECIPES
We start a lot of mornings with oatmeal, so it’s helpful to make a large batch on the weekend and have it quickly available anytime during the week. Most days it is eaten with almond milk and any number of nuts, seeds or fruits added on top, depending on the time of year and what is available. Chia seeds, ground flax seeds and toasted nuts work anytime of year.
We using Garlic Infused Olive Oil in a number of different dishes, using it as a healthy replacement to butter. By making a fresh batch every weekend, and keeping it in the refrigerator, we ensure that it is fresh, which is very important when you add garlic to something.
Having beans already cooked makes lunch or dinner easier. Usually, white beans become a salad or mezze for lunch, though they might also be used in a cassoulet. The Garbanzo beans get turned into hummus, and dark beans often become refried beans to be served with Mexican food.
On days when we are not having oatmeal for breakfast, we often have yogurt. It is a very versatile ingredient and can be the basis for a breakfast shake by adding fruits and nuts, or eaten in a bowl, topped with whatever is in season. It also works well for lunch or dessert, depending what is added. By making a large batch on the weekend, we have endless options during the rest of the week. We keep packets of starter culture in the refrigerator and change the variety of yogurt frequently, often making kefir and skyr as well.
This is my favorite part of weekend meal prep. Every week we bake bread, and this is the best recipe ever. It not only makes the best tasting bread, it’s also the easiest to make. Stir ingredients together, let them sit overnight, bake in a dutch oven the next day and you have incredible bread. Perfect for a sandwich for lunch, crostini with salad or beans, or even a pizza because the same recipe makes the best pizza dough.