Monday, October 04, 2010

22 Meals in 120 Minutes - Part Two

My earlier post on making meals ahead of time talked about how much stress you can save by setting aside two hours on the weekend.

Here is a step-by-step guide to what I did on Sunday:

1) After Sunday coffee and breakfast, headed to grocery store rather early (8:00am). Purchased the following: fresh produce - beets, leeks, brussel sprouts, carrots (both baby and real), small potatoes, a couple onions, arugula. At the salad bar, I put my fave salad toppings into one small container. I usually make another one for Mr Right. He likes peas, eggs, carrots. I like broccoli, mushrooms, etc. So two are necessary.

Arm roast {beef} was on sale so I bought two small ones.

Picked up six containers of low-fat flavored yogurt and a large non-fat plain yogurt.
{A note on yogurt: I need low-sugar but I don't want the baby girl to have Splenda. So I buy a large container of plain yogurt and mix it 1/2 and 1/2 with the flavored version.
My preference is to mix the plain yogurt with real fruit, but sometimes I need a quick snack for her, and mixing the two is a good solution.}

Already had at home from earlier shopping: two containers of ground turkey, five pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, brown rice.

2) I put two pots of water on to boil. Then I put a colander in one side of the sink and filled the other with water, grabbed a couple of veggie peelers and a big towel. Everybody (the veggies) went into the sink of water.

3) Washing ten pounds of fresh vegetables takes only a couple minutes longer than washing one pound of vegetables. I'm a big believer in doing it all at once. All the veggies I did not cook on Sunday (some celery and carrots) were washed, trimmed, dried and put in containers READY TO EAT. Makes all the difference in whether you grab them to eat in a couple days OR throw them out rotten ten days later.

4) I chopped the beets into quarters and threw them in one pot to par-boil.

5) I threw the brussel sprouts into the other pot of boiling water.

6) I took the chicken thighs out of the fridge and put them in a bowl, then put some Roasted Garlic-flavored Rice Wine Vinegar on them. Flavored vinegars make nice instant marinades -- they don't add fat and they tenderize the meat a bit.
While the the chicken sat about five minutes, I took the brussel sprouts out of the water. I took the chicken out and put it on the grill.

7) I put aluminum foil on a large baking sheet. I sliced the leeks and put them on the sheet. As I took the beets (and later carrots) out of the boiling water, I set them right on the baking sheet.

8) I chopped the peeled carrots into rough pieces and threw them into the beet pan (right into the red water, didn't hurt them a bit). After the carrots were done, I threw this water out but set the pan right back on the stove to use again.

9) I took the pot that had boiled the beets and carrots (didn't waste time washing it) and put a little olive oil in the bottom. I sliced the brussel sprouts in halves, then added them to the oil. Then I added a sprinkle of the Litehouse Freeze-dried red onion. {Love this product. I'm not typically a fan of dried herbs, but this is terrific.}
I only sauted these brussel sprouts a couple minutes, then turned them off. {this is really tasty if you saute a couple strips of prosciutto, then add brussel sprouts, but I didn't have any}

10) Veggies on the baking sheet get a sprinkle of olive oil, then into HOT oven. At least 400 degrees. Put half of the small potatoes on a second sheet and put them into oven too. (The other half of the potatoes go in the crock pot meals.)

11) Chicken comes off grill. Bring it in to cool.

12) Put a line of Gladware containers (any brand, but buy ONLY TWO SIZES, this way you don't spend all your time looking for lids!) in a row.
Put a chicken thigh or two into each container. Top with a few brussel sprouts.
{NOTE: Mr Right loves beets, hates brussel sprouts. The containers with brussel sprouts will be my lunches.}

13) While veggies roast, put together two crock pot meals. Details on this project coming in next post. THIS IS SUPER EASY. It doesn't take any time to do (actually will take me longer to type it!).

14) In second boiling-water-pot (again, do not wash) brown the ground turkey. I like to make "quick meat balls" by using a small scoop (Williams Sonoma #20). You can just scoop the meat right into the pot. Yes, the pot is playing saute pan, but who will know??

Two tips on browning ground turkey:
*I like to use the Litehouse red onion on the ground turkey too.
*Packages at the store are "99% lean" which is mostly white meat OR "97% lean" which is a bit more dark. I buy both. The 99% lean really requires oil to brown and the 97% lean has a bit more flavor.

15) Turkey should finish browning as veggies are done roasting. Turn everything off, let the food cool. Take a minute to catch up on clean up.

16) Back to the Gladware...put a serving of ground turkey in the bottom of the container. Add a couple carrots, beets, potatoes, whatever you like.
*The Veggies were par-boiled, which makes the roasting quicker and results in more moist veggies. They will still be crunchy, because they will cook a bit more when you re-heat them.

17) Make sure you save a couple of leeks, beets and carrots. Chop these cooked veggies even smaller and put them into a container. You can add them to brown rice for a healthy, yummy side dish for dinner later in the week.
You can even make an entree if you mix in a bit of ground turkey.

*To dress up this entree, add a tiny bit of any of the following:
Dark sesame oil
Garlic roasted flavored rice wine vinegar
Soy sauce
Low fat italian dressing
Tomato paste

18) Last step to have 22 complete meals...get yet MORE gladware, and fill it 2/3 full with Arugula. You can add a few of the salad bar veggies if you like. Get snack-sized Zip-a-locs (the tiniest ones) and put a piece of chicken in it. Put the baggie'd chicken right into the container on top of the Arugula, and you have a ready-to-eat healthy lunch.
I like to warm my chicken before adding it to my salad, so I take this extra step. It's worth it to have a restaurant-quality salad at my desk (that takes two minutes to put together!).


Seriously, it only took two hours.

And my favorite meals, all healthy stuff, are ready for lunch and dinner all week long.

A terrific use of two hours on Sunday!