Monday, February 1, 2016

Slow Cooker Stew, and Sloppy Joe's to the Rescue: Meal Prep Week in Review

Starting the week without doing some sort of meal prep in advance makes it tough to avoid eating food from take-out containers during the week. Under an hour on the weekend is all it takes to prep a few ingredients ahead of time. It may not seem like much at the time, but it does pays off mid-week!


Here's a quick rundown of the meals my family and I enjoyed because of the small stuff I was able to get done ahead of time.


Alfredo Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers and Peas



WHAT I PREPPED AHEAD:
Mix jarred Alfredo Sauce with Italian salad dressing - took a minute or two. Get the recipe here.

When I make this Alfredo Pasta recipe I use store-bought Alfredo sauce and follow the advice in this post by Maggie from smashedpeasandcarrots.com. Her suggestion is to add Italian salad dressing to the store-bought Alfredo sauce to give it extra zip. Works really well and is easy to prep ahead of time!


Sweet Potato Curry Chicken



WHAT I PREPPED AHEAD: 
Cut chicken breasts into strips and cooked in the skillet - about ten minutes. Get the recipe here.

With the chicken cooked, this savory rice dish was a cinch to pull together quickly. Fresh ginger is the secret ingredient, and if you check out the Cookapalooza Facebook Page you'll see how to grate fresh ginger so it just melts into the sauce.


Beef and Vegetable Stew in Roasted Red Pepper and Jalapeno Sauce


Beef and Vegetable Stew in Roasted Red Pepper and Jalapeno Sauce

WHAT I PREPPED AHEAD:
Trimmed fat off stewing beef, cut it into bite-sized pieces, and chopped celery and carrots - fifteen to twenty minutes to get it done and clean-up. Get the recipe here.

Looking back, I also could have blended the Roasted Red Pepper and Jalapeno Sauce ahead of time. It only takes a couple minutes. What can't be prepped ahead of time (but wish they could be) are the potatoes.


Kale and Tortellini Soup





WHAT I PREPPED AHEAD:
Half cup of carrots, diced - two minutes, tops. Get the recipe here.

Dicing a half cup of carrots may not seem like much, but it was nice to see them ready for the pot when I made this soup. Preparing this recipe at the end of the week also allowed me to make good use of the leftover broth and remaining tomato sauce from preparing the Curry Chicken and the Stew.

BTW: If you plan to serve this soup to kids, you may want to back-off on the amount of chopped frozen kale you sprinkle in the pot. My two kids love this soup, but if they see too many green things floating in the broth they get spooked like a groundhog seeing its own shadow.


Sloppy Joe's




WHAT I PREPPED AHEAD:
Nothing. Get the recipe here.

We all need back-up meals, right? This was mine. Sloppy Joe's are so easy to make. In the past I have cooked the meat mixture ahead of time which makes assembling these Sloppy Joe's quicker to than ordering a Big Mac.

I don't always get a chance to prep ingredients for the week ahead, but I did last week and it paid off!


DELICIOUS DINNERS ARE EASIER TO PREP WHEN YOU HAVE A PLAN

And, planning meals is a snap when you use the five easy steps I outlined in a recent issue of the Cook-a-Palooza Newsletter. Grab it here. No email required.

Brent Garell from Cookapalooza

Brent Garell is the author of The Cook-a-Palooza Experience and 15-Minute Money Saving Meals for Students. When he is not enjoying the outdoors, he is on the look-out for simple #mealprep solutions to fit healthy and responsible meals into his family's busy schedule. Let's see what works!

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