How I prepare for the week ahead

A lot of my friends ask me what I do on weeknights when we are all too tired to cook a meal. There is also the issue of what to do with leftovers if you don’t want to eat the same thing day after day. While my method isn’t perfect, it works for me and I hope it gives you some ideas for what may work for you!

On Sundays I spend the morning reading the New York Times and browsing recipes, looking for something that strikes me as a good “base meal” for the week. I love quinoa, bean-based dishes, and vegetable dishes that last a while. I don’t eat a ton of meat so I usually look for a meat-free dish.

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This week, I picked this curried quinoa salad and reserved a portion of the quinoa to keep plain, in case I want to mix it up with different flavors one night this week. The curried quinoa is delicious! I added green peas instead of edamame and omitted the meat.

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I like to have fresh, steamed or roasted veggies that add a different element to some of my meals, or just something extra to serve on the side. This week, I picked organic sweet potatoes, roasted in a 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes. I drizzled the diced potatoes with olive oil and sea salt before roasting.

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I also steamed organic broccoli, which makes a great topping for salads, or a good boat for dips, of which I also am a fan!

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Pesto is one of my favorite toppings for sandwiches, pastas and as a dip. I modified this vegan pesto, and added pine nuts and walnuts as well as a little goat milk feta cheese to add a salty layer of depth. If you’ve never made pesto yourself, I highly recommend doing so as soon as possible. It’s so fast and easy and you can modify the taste to your liking.

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It took me about an hour and a half to prepare all these items. Here are my ideas for the week: one night I will have the quinoa salad, over a bed of spinach and avocado dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. The next night, I will use smoked salmon, which I always have on hand, to make a pesto, goat cheese and smoked salmon panini. I also make sure I’m fully stocked on fresh fruit, which I’ll have as a side or dessert.

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Another night, I’ll make a baby kale salad with the broccoli and sweet potatoes, plus some of the quinoa. Toward the end of the week, I like to treat myself, so if I have time, I’ll head out to dinner with friends, usually reserving the leftovers for lunch the next day. If I don’t go out, I’ll stop at the market and pick up a good piece of fresh fish and this week, I’ll top it with the homemade pesto I made today and have the plain quinoa on the side with avocado, broccoli and lemon juice. If I’m ever really in a bind, I love scrambled eggs for dinner! This week, I’ll probably do two whole eggs, plus one egg white and scramble them with spinach, goat cheese and my roasted sweet potatoes. It’s my favorite combination!

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I hope this helps you get some ideas for weeknight meal planning. Don’t forget to stock up on a good wine when you need a glass at the end of the day, and something sweet to have after dinner. I love a good chardonnay during the week and Theo dark chocolate for after dinner. Bon appétit! What are your weeknight recipe secrets?

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