Happy Easter everyone! I’m spending today with endless cups of coffee, a nature walk, and a free spiral-cut ham that we got on rewards from the grocery store (no shame here). One of the positives of this quarantine for me has been the opportunity to fully immerse myself in Spring and all that this season has to offer. I think Spring is often overlooked because of our desires to get out of the cold weather and move directly into summer, but it’s really one of my favorite seasons! I’m thankful for the opportunity to slow down a bit and watch the flowers bloom.
This meal prep series was inspired by feedback I got from you all on Instagram. The concept was to take a “base”, in this case chicken and rice, and come up with 3-4 quick, easy ways that you could change up that base throughout the week. While most of us do have more time now that we’re home, I think there is also a pressure to be even more productive than we would normally be in the office, and therefore meals get overlooked in exchange for a quick snack while you mute yourself on a conference call. The idea of this meal prep series is that you spend 30 minutes or so prepping your base, then an additional 15-20 minutes for each meal. I visualized a schedule that goes something like this:
Sunday: Prep base ingredients. Store in containers in fridge.
Monday: Make Chicken Cheesesteak Skillet for dinner. Store leftovers for lunch next day.
Tuesday: Make Turmeric Ginger Coconut Curry for dinner. Store leftovers for lunch next day.
Wednesday: Leftovers, if any.
Thursday: Make Caramelized Onion, Kale, and Goat Cheese Bowls with Homemade Balsamic Glaze. Store leftovers for lunch next day.
Friday: Leftovers, if any.
Alternatively, you could do your prep and make a meal all in one shot in the kitchen. It really just depends how you want to make this plan work for you. I will say that this isn’t a comprehensive, feed-your-entire-family-for-a-week meal plan. This is basic. You get roughly 2-3 adult-sized portions per meal, and if you live with boys, good luck making it last. However, if you live alone or with one other person, this is a pretty decent way to feed yourselves using simple, healthy ingredients with minimal effort during the work week. You can always feel free to bulk up these recipes even more by adding additional sides of vegetables or another side dish. The point of this recipe series if to provide a framework that is digestible, delicious, and open for interpretation!
The grocery list is provided to be used at the beginning of the week, with the assumption that you already have a few staples like olive oil, salt, pepper, and butter. You can certainly feel free to swap out any vegetables you don’t like, change up your protein, or use a grain alternative instead of the rice. Be mindful that your final product should be about 8 cups of whatever rice or rice alternative you are using, so take that into account when making a swap there! Seafood would be excellent in the Turmeric Ginger Coconut Curry or the Caramelized Onion, Kale, and Goat cheese bowls, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a swap for the Chicken Cheesesteak Skillet. Make this recipe your own and don’t be afraid to swap something interesting!
I hope you enjoy the first installment of The Ardent Prep. If this concept is well-received, I would love to make this a regular occurrence on the blog. Your feedback is always appreciated, and I’ve been loving seeing all of your recipe photos. It means the world! If you decide to make any of these recipes, don’t forget to share and tag me @theardentcook on Instagram!
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 knob fresh ginger, approximately 1 inch
1 head of garlic
1-2 large sweet onions
2 Bell peppers, any color
1 medium jalapeno pepper
1-2 heads of broccoli
1-2 heads kale
¼ pound sliced White American cheese
1 4oz log Goat cheese
1 16oz can full-fat coconut milk
White rice (4 cups dry)
1 16oz bottle Balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake chicken breasts with olive oil, salt, and pepper until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, approximately 30 minutes.
- Cook rice according to package instructions. If using a grain alternative, be sure that your final products yields close to 8 cups. Each recipe calls for approximately 2.5 cups of rice, give or take.
- While chicken and rice cook, melt 1 TBSP butter or other cooking fat in a medium skillet. Finely slice onion crosswise and add to the skillet along with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat onions in the butter, and saute over low heat until onions are slightly golden and resemble a jammy consistency, at least 20 minutes. Be careful not to cook onions any higher than low heat, at the risk of burning them.
- If choosing to make one of the meals at this point, continue with instructions for those recipes, linked below. Otherwise, store all ingredients in separate containers in the fridge and use according to recipe instructions throughout the week. Enjoy!