ENTRY-LEVEL TIME-SAVING MEAL PREP

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Happy New Year everyone! I know it’s been a wee late for my greetings but better than never:D Travelling back from Aberdeenshire to Singapore is another phase of adaptation; from a slow living to “quick, what’s next” living.

Back at my in-laws place, veggiehubs and I were pampered with hearty foods stored in the refrigerator, pantry and even a spare freezer in the garage! Every food storage was filled with a copious of foods loaded with nutrients, and there was no sign of junk or naughty foods. Not a single hope that I could snack on my guilty pleasures- Crisps and chocolates! Despite our food supply, we followed his parents’ footsteps in leading an abstemious lifestyle. We ate at regular timings and our meals were brilliantly well-portioned with all sorts of vitamins, minerals and fibre, filled with satiety. Their lifestyle entails a handful of good habits that motivate us to keep up when we returned.

After we came back home without a blissful sight of fresh produce in our fridge, it has certainly made me not wanting to cook at all. In all honesty, we had cereal and milk for two days whilst coping with severe jet lag, both of us were lackadaisical and weak. On the third day, I needed to start my engines and reverted to our proper eating habits again. So I worked out an entry-level time-saving meal prep, followed by a shopping list to support my new year resolution on “cooking more at home, and eating better” in 2019!

I am not quite a creature of habits when it comes to eating. Meal preps can be daunting when every meal repeats across the week. It seems extreme, uninviting and arid to me, which is not what I’m looking for to practice a habit I stick to for long. To cultivate a habit, it has to be easy and enticing. Therefore, this entry-level meal plan is designed for only 3 days across 3 meals! Each meal is different so that you will look forward to indulge during mealtimes. They are simple, wholesome, and TASTY!

For breakfast, we will be preparing a high fibre, high fat chia pudding with fruits, cacao and almond butter that assuage your sweet tooth! Moving on, for lunch, we have meatless beef chilli oven baked sweet potatoes with 2 servings of vegetables to keep it lean, balanced and away from a food coma. Lastly, go back home with a light, nutty cha soba salad with mushroom medley, firm tofu and greens to keep your comfortable. Slurp your way while watching Netflix!

You may think, “meh, only 3 days? what about the remaining 4 days?” Well, my hope is to encourage you to take small steps if meal planning is new to you, as it is for me. When extreme measures are taken, it is very motivating from the beginning, but there will be days that we are not at tip top condition to keep abreast of our goals, and feel disheartened. So let’s avoid that!

It is journey to build up your interest to cook more for your nourishment, and also keep a healthy bank account 😂 Last year alone, our food delivery bills was unbelievable and it is an expense that can be easily minimised once we put more thought into eating healthily.

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Leave your comments down below when you attempt the recipes, I’ll be glad to hear about your cooking encounters and how I can help you better. Lastly, you can tag me or use #craveandchow to show me your creations on Facebook or Instagram!

Click here to download the full grocery list for the recipes down below! Happy shopping!

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ENTRY-LEVEL TIME-SAVING MEAL PREP

Serves 1 for 3 days

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Difficulty: 3/10

Diet Notes: Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Dairy-free

Cooking Notes:

  • Prepare chia pudding first the night before. Start with sweet potatoes then cut and blanch all vegetables at a go.

  • I recommend chilling down each component at room temperature before assembling in food containers and refrigerating them after.

  • To enjoy soba at its best, keep the dressing in a separate container, only pour over before eating.

  • Be sure to heat up the lunch till piping hot before eating.

Breakfast: Simple chia pudding with fruits, cacao, almond butter

A fast, filling, healthy and sweet breakfast to start your day. I love how infinitely customisable it is for chia pudding.

INGREDIENTS

CHIA PUDDING

  • 5 tbsp chia seeds

  • 210ml Unsweetened Almond Milk

  • 1 tsp Acacia honey

  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

TOPPINGS

  • 2 small bananas, sliced diagonally

  • 4 fresh strawberries, sliced

  • 1 packet fresh blueberries

  • 3 tsp almond butter spread

  • 5g (1 pc) grated 70% dark chocolate

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make chia pudding, add all ingredients into a bowl and whisk till combined. Let is set for 5 minutes, and whisk again for 30 seconds. Cover chia pudding with a plate and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, until chia seeds are puffed, and almond milk has been fully absorbed. 

  2. Divide chia pudding and fresh fruits into each container. Drop 1 tsp almond butter and grate chocolate evenly over each portion. 

NUTRI FACTS

  • Chia seeds are high in fibre, they are wholegrain foods, and gluten-free.

  • Nut butter (Peanut or Almond) contains a healthy dose of potassium, biotin, magnesium, and zinc. Almond butter is slightly healthier with a higher content of vitamin E, minerals, and fibre, hence it costs slightly more than peanut better.

  • Cocoa in dark chocolate contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine that helps to improve brain functioning. Always purchase dark chocolate with at least 70% or higher cocoa stuff to reap the benefits.

Lunch: Meatless beef chilli oven-baked sweet potatoes

A protein packed lunch with a burst of spice will keep your engines till dawn. Nothing is bringing you to food coma & jeopardise your productivity!

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 Australian sweet potatoes, washed

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 5 tbsp Quorn mince

  • 1 packet Tesco Italian Passata with Garlic and Herbs

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (Naturel)

  • 2 tbsp spring onion, chopped

SEASONING

  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

  • Pinch of white pepper

Kitchen Necessity

  • 6 pcs, aluminium foil 

  • Kitchen Towels

DIRECTIONS

  1. Turn on oven and set it to 180 degrees. Pat dry sweet potatoes on kitchen towels. Use a fork to poke around sweet potatoes to make tiny holes. Wrap each sweet potato with a piece aluminium foil, twist on both ends and make sure it is fully covered. 

  2. Arrange sweet potatoes on baking tray and cook for 40 minutes at 180 degrees. After 40 minutes, use a fork to poke through the sweet potatoes, they will be relatively soft on the outside but still hard inside. Turn up to 220 degrees and bake for another 5-7 minutes till soft. Bring them out and cool for 20 minutes. 

  3. Heat oil in a sauce pot over medium high heat. Sauté yellow onion for 2 minutes till lightly browned. Add garlic and mince, sauté for 2 minutes. Pour passata and mix with all the ingredients for 1 minute. Add seasonings into the pot, continue to stir evenly for 30 seconds. Turn heat to low, let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes until its thick. Remove from heat.

  4. Remove aluminium foil from each sweet potato, slice it to split open but not completely through.

  5. Put 2 sweet potatoes in each container. Scoop a generous amount of meat free beef chilli and pour into each sweet potato. Sprinkle spring onion over. There should be a portion left of beef chilli which you can freeze it, and use it later to make vegetarian beef bolognese. 

Dinner: Cha soba salad, mushroom medley, firm tofu & sesame ginger dressing

Sesame and a ton of ginger spice reminds me of home. This springy textured noodles will stand by you through the night. Light, and comforting, you can slurp them in peace.

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g Organic Cha soba (Hakubaku)

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 100g Bunashimeiji mushrooms, remove stem

  • 100g baby oyster mushroom

  • ½ piece firm tofu (Tau Raw) (Vitasoy), slice into 8 pieces

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (Naturel) 

  • 2 tbsp spring onion, chopped

  • Pinch of Himalayan pink salt 

  • 1 tsp sesame oil

  • ½ tsp white pepper


DRESSING

  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce (Tai Hua)

  • 2½ tbsp sesame oil (Double Pagoda)

  • 1 thumb young ginger, peeled and grated

  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp Acacia honey

  • 4 tbsp water

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil 1 litre water in a sauce pot, cook soba for 4 minutes. Drain boiling water, and quickly fill up with cold water over cooked soba to let it cool. Drain them just before dividing into portions. 

  2. Gently compress firm both sides of firm tofu on kitchen towel. Heat extra virgin olive oil on a frying pan, pan fry firm tofu over medium high heat. Cook only on one side till crispy and golden brown for 5 minutes. Lay them on a plate with kitchen towel to drain excess oil. 

  3. With the remaining oil in the same frying pan, add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add both mushrooms and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add sesame oil, salt and pepper to the mushrooms, cook for another 2 minutes. 

  4. Whisk all dressing ingredients till honey has dissolved. 

  5. Divide soba, firm tofu and mushroom in each containers. Scoop 4 tbsp ginger sesame dressing into each round container. 

BLANCH VEGETABLES

  • 180g Broccoli, chopped into florets and sliced remaining stem

  • 120g Thailand Fine Asparagus, remove ends, cut into half

  • 9 cherry tomatoes

  • A handful of frozen edamame soy beans

DAILY FRUIT SNACK

  • 1kg Red Watermelon, sliced in 6 pieces. One for lunch, one for dinner

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil 750ml water in a large sauce pot, arrange edamame beans and broccoli stem at the base of the steaming tray. Stack florets, and asparagus on top. Put lid on, blanche for 3 minutes at medium high heat. Remove lid, add cherry tomatoes, put lid on and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and place the vegetables under running cold water to cool down.

  2. Hold one end of the edamame pod and push upwards to remove soy beans.

  3. Divide broccoli and cherry tomatoes between containers for “LUNCH”, and divide asparagus and edamame between containers for “DINNER”.

LEFTOVERS

  • Since I only used ½ piece of firm tofu, I washed and drained the remaining ½ of it and stored in a freezer container until I need to use in 3-4 days. Do not leave the tofu and the remaining water content in its packaging at the chiller overnight. A sticky, gooey substance will form and definitely not ideal for eating.

  • For the cherry tomatoes, they can last for up to a week in a refrigerator.

Lots of love,

Ally