What do you guys include in your weekly meal prep sessions? A couple protein sources, roasted veggies, and a big batch of grains are key. But how do you make your meals super flavorful and eliminate boredom as the week progresses? Sauces and dressings! I love to include one or two different sauces in my weekly recipe round up. It may seem intimidating, but you really can make your favorite peanut sauce at home in less than 10 minutes. I sometimes even wait until the night I cook a meal to whip up a sauce to go with it.
Why make your own sauces, instead of buying them pre-made? Making your own sauces/dressings at home is empowering from a nutrition standpoint, as it allows you to control exactly what ingredients you’re adding. You can eliminate pro-inflammatory oils, excess added sugars and preservatives.
I currently have a batch of mustardy champagne vinaigrette and this delicious Green Goddess Tahini Sauce in my fridge. This is the first time I’ve made this sauce, and Ben and I can’t get enough! It’s wonderful used as a dressing for kale salads and drizzled over roasted veggies. It would also be a great dipping sauce for homemade falafel or sweet potato fries. There are only a few simple ingredients, and all you do is add them to a blender! I created the recipe in my NutriBullet Balance blender and smartphone app, which calculated the nutrition information in real time! So, so easy.
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup smooth tahini
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 small cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Drizzle over just about anything!
This recipe will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. If you make it, tag @daisybeet on Instagram so I can see you creations! 🙂
Happy Taco Tuesday! Ben and I made these tacos for football Sunday when we had his brother over to watch the Patriot’s game (living with Ben = surrendering the TV every Sunday during football season). We had just come home from grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, where we picked up groceries for the week and a few staples to have on hand. I shared more details on my stories Sunday, but we ended up spending 98 dollars on our entire grocery haul. If we planned correctly, this will last us most of our meals for the week, for less than 50 dollars per person. I’m great at shopping and meal planning for myself, but including another person (who is larger than I am and therefore eats more food) in this weekly task is totally new to me. I’m lucky that Ben is not a picky eater and enjoys healthy and vegetarian meals, but I want to make sure he feels satisfied and fulfilled by what we are cooking each week. I see this as a new challenge to tackle together!
When planning meals for those with varied dietary restrictions and tastes, I find that “build your own” meals are a really good option. Preparing a bunch of different, simple sides is a great way to allow your guests to add ingredients to their meals based off of their preferences. Tacos are a great example, because you can prepare multiple add-ins, such as beans, different protein options, a few veggie options, guacamole, avocado, cheese, salsas and sour cream. Another easily customizable meal is build your own pizzas (provide regular/whole wheat/gluten free crust and a few options for sauces, cheeses, veggie and meat toppings). Your guests have more control over what they would like to eat, and the hands on process of customizing your meal can be really fun!
These tacos took 30 minutes or less to prepare. We made the shrimp, guacamole and slaw from scratch and, included pre-made pico de gallo and canned beans to make for a speedier meal. We enjoyed this meal as tacos for lunch during the game, then had leftovers in the form of taco salads for dinner. Because you can never have too many tacos!
Pre-made pico de gallo, canned beans and corn tortillas for serving
Prepare the slaw: In a small bowl, combine yogurt, hot sauce, taco seasoning, garlic salt and lime juice. Stir well to combine. Place cabbage and jalapeño in a mixing bowl, then toss with yogurt sauce. Set aside.
Prepare the guacamole: Place 3 avocado halves in a mixing bowl with garlic, cilantro onion, lime juice and salt. Mash well with a fork. Add in diced tomatoes plus the remaining avocado half, cubed. Stir to combine.
Prepare the shrimp: heat olive oil in frying pan on medium heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add shrimp, Adobo seasoning and garlic salt. Stir occasionally until shrimp is fully cooked, about 5 minutes.
Heat tortillas in a frying pan or oven (optional). Set all your prepared ingredients on the counter, and have your guests build their own tacos!
I hope you guys give this easy taco recipe a try! Tag @daisybeet on Instagram so I can see your creations 🙂
Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you go to the grocery store, and walk out having spent over 100 dollars on who knows what? (To be honest, this happens to me every time I go into Target). I understand this feeling, and know that one of the biggest perceived barriers to eating well is cost. As a graduate student living in New York City, I’ve become very adept at living on a budget. I’ve learned that grocery shopping and preparing most of my own meals is the best way to stick to a budget. I’ve also learned that with a little planning, shopping for and preparing delicious, healthy meals is easy and fun! I spend between 40 and 60 dollars a week on groceries – and this gets me through a majority of my meals (save for 2-3 meals out, mostly on weekends). Here are my biggest tips to staying within budget, saving time, and eating well by preparing meals at home.
Do your research. Take a look at the grocery stores in your area you are willing to travel to. For some, there may be only one or two options, but if you are like me, there are probably 10 grocery stores within a half mile radius. Figure out which store has the best prices without compromising on quality. Trader Joe’s is my favorite for affordable, consistently high quality products!
Form your plan. Before you shop, decide what you are going to cook for the week. For lunches, I like to prepare a big salad with 2-3 raw veggies, an inexpensive protein like hardboiled eggs or canned tuna, and a simple homemade vinaigrette. For dinners, decide on a few easy recipes that store well for a few days in the fridge. The majority of my meals are actually not “recipes,” rather, they are simple combinations of a lean protein source, simply prepared vegetables, and a complex carbohydrate. For example, baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and cinnamon-paprika sweet potato fries.
Shop the sales. Take a look at the sales flyer for your grocery store (or check online – Whole Foods posts their sale items by store) to figure out what is on sale that week. Usually, the produce on sale is also seasonal, so you’ll be saving money and eating in-season, flavorful food at the same time!
Choose mostly plant-based meals. Contrary to what many people think, eating a plant-based diet is actually quite inexpensive. Meat and poultry are some of the most expensive items in grocery stores. Trying more vegetarian proteins is good for your health AND your wallet. Some examples are canned beans, eggs, frozen edamame and tofu.
Block off 2 to 3 hours. You’ll want to have some time to shop, but you also need to prepare the food once you get home! Blocking off a few hours once a week to prep everything in advance will make weeknights easier and help you avoid ordering take out knowing the fridge is stocked with a fully or partially prepared meal.
Make a list. Once your meal plan is set, make a list of all the ingredients you need. If you have time, it helps to organize the list by category – produce, grains, canned goods, etc. IMPORTANT: Check your pantry and fridge to see what you already have on hand. There have been more times than I can count that I come home with a carton of eggs or bag of oatmeal, only to find one unopened when I return! This step reduces food waste and saves you storage space and money.
Don’t shop hungry. Go to the store after you’ve eaten a nice meal or snack. Shopping while hungry may lead to you stray from your list as you see snacks that become temptations. Shopping on a full stomach will help you stick to the plan and keep you within budget.
Pump the jams. Once you return from shopping, put on your favorite tunes and get cooking! Start with the items that will take the longest to cook, such as roasting vegetables, then move on to the quicker tasks, like chopping lettuce or making a vinaigrette.
Follow these tips, and after a few weeks, you’ll be a grocery shopping pro! I may even go so far as to say you’ll ENJOY it J For a little more inspiration, I’ve attached a simple shopping list to use. Print out a copy, or make your own to help get started.