Weekly Food Prep for a Busy Family

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I love, love LOVE this meme from Happy Herbivore!  She is one of my favorite vegan cookbook authors.  This is such an important reminder for those of us who can get tripped up by labels.  Her post on the subject is great.  Read it here.
So let’s talk about snacking appetites for a quick minute.  On one of my online “mommy forums” (groan, I know, I know!) we’ve been talking about how much food our families can eat.  My family eats a ton of food, and Granola Toddler would probably just keep eating all day until she passed out cold in front of the fridge if I let her.  With all the face-stuffing going on around here, I have to be sure that I always have healthy options available.  I don’t want my kids eating chips because that’s all they could find in the cupboard.  One thing that really keeps us eating healthy and sticking to our budget is weekly food prep.  At the beginning of the week (usually Sunday or Monday) I take an afternoon to prepare a large amount of ingredients and snacks for us to use for the rest of the week.  It varies from week to week, but here’s an idea of what I’ve been doing lately:

-chop and roast 1 entire bag (5lbs) of sweet potatoes
-chop 3 heads of romaine lettuce and separate into bags
-cook 4 cups of quinoa in the rice cooker (I cook it in water so I can use it for sweet or savory dishes)
-cook 2 cups of brown rice on the stove
-hard boil 6 eggs
-make 1 huge batch of granola
-chop and bag up veggies for quick salads: bell peppers, cucumbers, etc.
-make a homemade salad dressing for the week
-bake one type of “treat” that we can grab quickly on our way out the door (granola bars, muffins, breakfast cookies, etc)

It’s not really very much work, and I can usually get it done in an hour if I’m smart about it.  I can have my rice cooker, oven, and stove going all at once and chop away while the kids are asleep.  It saves me quite a bit of time the rest of the week, which is really helpful when the Granola Babies decide they are so hungry they will surely perish if I don’t magically make a snack appear in 30 seconds 🙂
Do you food prep for your family?  What kinds of things do you like to cook ahead of time?

P.S.  I will be blogging next about the different ways I use all that quinoa, and why I love it so much!

Monday, Monday: A Meal Plan For the Week (Plus a Recipe!)

Welcome back, my bloggy homies.  I had a real case of the Mondays today.  I actually don’t know what the “Mondays” are, but I slept in and forgot about my Preschool carpool, ran out of dish soap with a sink full of half washed dishes, and (no joke) told my toddler “if you are real quiet for the rest of the car ride, you can have cake when we get home.”  We were one block from home.  Like 40 seconds.  So that happened…
Nevertheless, I am happy to report that I did my yoga for the day, and am staying committed to my fitness goals for the month.  Granola Baby #1 wanted to join in, so we did some Cosmic Kids Yoga before bed. My friend introduced my toddler to these videos at Preschool, and I think they are the cutest little routines.  If you’ve never done yoga with your kids, this is an adorable and fun way to get your little ones interested.  I am partial to the Penguin one 🙂

This weekend I was planning out our meals and noticed we had a ton of leftover produce, and our pantry is totally full from a Costco trip.  I thought it would be fun to see if I could make it without spending ANY money this week on food.  That’s $0.  It will be a fun game to see if I can make it.  I might crack if we run out of avocados.  We cannot have that.
Here’s the breakdown, including yesterday and today:
Sunday: Vegetarian Taco Soup (We fed 11 adults and 4 kids for my 3 year old’s family birthday party.  Everyone loved it!)
Monday: Artichoke Pasta “Wonderpot” (Recipe Below)
Tuesday: Skillet Rosemary & Lemon Brussels Sprouts with Quinoa (I’ll make a double batch of quinoa to use for Wednesday’s chili.)
Wednesday:  Quinoa Chili (I’m trying out this recipe for the first time)
Thursday: Easy Kid-Friendly Veggie Sushi
Friday: Gluten-Free Spaghetti with Broccoli
Saturday: Rice & Bean Casserole with Guacamole (Recipe here)
We will have some type of salad with dinner each night as well.  For breakfasts, we will have green smoothies, oatmeal, or granola.  Granola Baby #1 likes scrambled eggs, too.  Lunches are usually sandwiches on Gluten Free bread, leftovers, or whatever soup I can throw together with random things in our fridge.  Both my kids are liking lentils and beans lately, so we eat a lot of those, too.
If you are interested in some of the recipes for the meals I listed, please let me know.  I love to share recipes.

Dinner tonight was really good.  If you haven’t picked up on the “Wonderpot” craze that’s taking over Pinterest (Thanks, Martha!) then you should check it out.  I first saw it on this blog.  The idea is that you boil noodles in vegetable broth and don’t drain it.  The starch released from the noodles thickens the broth, making a silky, almost creamy sauce.  It tastes decadent and rich, but it isn’t heavy at all because it doesn’t contain cream or dairy.  The beautiful thing about this type of dish is that you can throw whatever you have on hand into the pot, and it tastes great.  I always use mushrooms, peas, and artichokes because my kids like them, but you can adjust the veggies and seasonings according to your family’s preferences.  I used organic ingredients, but you don’t have to if you can’t find/afford it.  It will taste great either way!

Artichoke Pasta Wonderpot (Gluten Free, Vegan)
Serves 10 Hungry Lumberjacks (not really, but it makes a lot!)

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Ingredients:
4 cups veggie broth
1/2 cup water
1 can diced tomatoes2-3 cloves garlic, minced (or sliced, if you are feeding adults who won’t pick them out…)
1 sweet onion, sliced
6 artichoke hearts in water, quartered (can use jarred or frozen- I get the jars from Costco)
6 mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 lb gluten free spaghetti noodles (I used Trader Joe’s brown rice spaghetti)
1 sprig of rosemary, chopped
1-2 tsp your favorite no-salt seasoning (I like Kirkland brand)
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas

Add your ingredients to the pot, except for the peas.  Nobody likes mushy peas!  Smoosh everything down to try and submerge it all (this is getting technical…). Add the lid and bring to a boil, then stir the ingredients around, cover again, and simmer until the liquid reduces and your noodles are tender.  I usually babysit the pot in the last few minutes of cooking and stir it frequently, as brown rice noodles tend to stick to the bottom.  When the noodles are perfect, I remove the pot from heat and add the frozen peas.  The heat from the pasta will warm the peas to perfection.  Enjoy!