Posts Tagged ‘make-ahead meals’

Outside my kitchen window as I was cooking today.

Yes, I do realize that today was the first day of spring, but when the weather outside looks like this, it’s stew weather no matter what the calendar says.  The photo didn’t capture it, but it was pouring down rain for most of the day today.  The bad news is they’re predicting rain for the rest of the week.  So rather than complain about it, I’m going to think about how great my flowers will look once it stops raining and I’m going to embrace the cooler, wetter temps by making some “stick to your ribs” food for the week.

I felt like trying some new recipes, so I turned to one of the best low carb cooks I know, Kalyn, and I just as I knew I would, I found two perfect recipes.

Since I knew they were going to be several portions each, I decided to invest in some new Ziploc containers for the freezer.  That way, I can save my other, better Rubbermaid containers for the rest of this week’s food, as well as next week.

The first one was Mediterranean Beef Stew with Rosemary, and it looked hearty and delicious.  Plus, the flavor profile was right up my alley, with the capers, olives, and garlic.  I used Kalamata olives to give it a real Mediterranean flare.  I also bought Christopher Ranch pre-peeled garlic to save a lot of time (I wasn’t going to peel 1/2 cup of garlic today, plus I like supporting local businesses).  I also bought pre-sliced crimini mushrooms.  Sometimes it’s the shortcuts that make all the difference.  Like using the crockpot liners.  Ever since ScaleWarfare mentioned them in a post a year or two ago, I have been using them ever since.  They make cleanup a breeze – just wipe out and go.  I made this recipe my own by adding a bit of red pepper flakes, because I like things somewhat spicy.  The best part of cooking in the crockpot is that you basically brown a few things, put it all into the crockpot and then forget about it for 6 hours while you do other things.

Mediterranean Beef Stew "before"

If it looked that good in the before, I knew it was going to be good.  It filled my house with a great aroma of balsamic vinegar, Kalamata olives and spices.  I added up the nutritional info into LoseIt and found out that for 1  serving: 324 calories, 20.7g fat, 13g carbs, 1.3 g fiber, 7.7g sugars, 20.1g protein. It makes 4-6 servings.  Next time I’ll lighten it up by choosing a leaner cut of beef.

I can’t wait to dig into this later this week.  If I weren’t following low carb, I’d definitely have a piece of good, crusty bread with it, because it’s almost more of a stoup (soup + stew) than a traditional stew.

The second recipe I made today, courtesy of Kalyn, was Pork with Paprika, Mushrooms, and Sour Cream.  I’d discovered some pork loin chops in my freezer yesterday when I was pulling the scallops out, and I wanted to use them. As I was doing my search, this recipe intrigued me because it had Hungarian roots, and I’d never had anything like it before.  Plus, it had repeated ingredients from the other recipe, so it made shopping easier.  Oddly enough, I had caraway seeds on hand in a spice rack that I got a couple of years ago.  I used fat free sour cream instead of light, because with that much flavor going on in the pot, I knew it wouldn’t make any difference to cut back on the fat.  I wanted to follow the recipe closely, since I’d never cooked anything like this before, so I borrowed LC’s cast iron dutch oven.  (That’s one of the many nice things about having her next door – we’re able to borrow things like that from each other). Nutrition Info (as I prepared it): per serving – 280 calories, 14.3g fat, 9g carbs, 1.3g fiber, 3.8g sugars, 25.7g protein.  Makes 4 servings.

I was thrilled that this turned out exactly as Kalyn’s looks in her photo.  The flavor was delicious!  While it was cooking it smelled like the forest (thyme will do that), and the paprika gave it this warmth.  The caraway seeds make it taste like the best rye bread you’ve ever eaten.

If you think it sounds interesting, definitely give it a try because it is so good.  It would be nice paired with brown rice or whole wheat pasta, but since I’m doing the Lean and Green thing, I paired mine with a mixed greens & arugula salad with grape tomatoes and cucumber along with red wine vinegar and a dash of olive oil for the dressing.

After all this cooking today, my house still smells great, hours later.  And my freezer is going to be happy, too:

So, now on to my meals for the week:

Monday: Mediterranean Beef Stew

Tuesday: Joe’s Special

Wednesday: Prosciutto-wrapped Scallops

Thursday: Pork with Paprika, Mushrooms, & Sour Cream

Friday: Shrimp Scampi Salad  – quickly saute shrimp with a bit of garlic & onion in 1 tsp olive oil, add to spinach leaves.  Enjoy!

If you have any recipes that you’ve tried recently that you’d recommend that I try for next week, please let me know in the comments.

I hope that the rest of you who are reading this are experiencing true early spring, sunny weather.

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I hope everyone is having a fantastic weekend!  I’m doing fairly well, although I woke up this morning and realized that I’d caught my niece’s cold.  Ugh!  Bit of a scratchy throat and a general feeling of malaise.  No fun at all.

I am so glad that I got so much done yesterday (Zumba, cleaned the entire house top to bottom, lots of laundry), because I really didn’t feel like doing much today.  Still, I knew that if I was going to have a good week, I had to at least head to the grocery store and pick up a few things so that I could prepare some make-ahead meals.

I have to be honest and say that shopping and cooking was the LAST thing I felt like doing this morning, but now that I’m finished, I’m so glad I did it.  It took me a while, though!  I left the house around 11am and finally cleaned every last dish at 2:15PM.  But that time spent today is going to be so worth it because I won’t have any food prep to do all week.

I had seen Scale Warfare’s Stuffed Mushrooms a week or so ago and knew I wanted to make them at some point, and today sounded like the perfect day.  It’s rainy outside, so I wanted to have something warm for dinner.  I used her basic recipe, but instead of cream cheese I used wedges of Herb & Garlic Laughing Cow.  I also bought Jennie-O turkey breakfast sausage patties, because I thought those sounded so good with this.  And it was!  My calorie count came in slightly less than SW’s did, at 314 per serving.  Not bad!

I’m going to have these tonight with an arugula and tomato salad on the side.  The other portion will be ready and waiting for me on Friday.  Yum!

I also made TJ’s Turkey & Tofu Stir Fry for a couple of meals this week and a couple of meals next week.

And then I made a couple of salads, just to make sure that I had some variety.  Here’s this week’s plan:

Sunday: SW’s Stuffed Mushrooms (above)
Monday: TJ’s Turkey & Tofu Stir Fry
Tuesday: Asian-Inspired Chicken Salad
Wednesday: Chicken “Club” Salad
Thursday: TJ’s Turkey & Tofu Stir Fry
Friday: SW’s Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m not sure what I’m going to have on Saturday, but it might be something like I had last night, turkey meatballs and sauteed spinach (383 calories, total):

Here’s my favorite part of all this meal make-ahead madness:

My week’s meals, all prepared and ready to go.  I’ve completely set myself up for another successful week.

The other nice thing about making the meals ahead?

You only have to see this kind of thing once!

Do you make your meals for the week ahead of time?  What’s a favorite recipe that you’d like to share?  I’d love to get some new ideas!

Ok, I’m off now to rest, relax, and read.

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lunch Scale Warfare left a comment on yesterday’s post where I said that last week was a difficult one for me because I wasn’t preparing my lunches ahead of time and I ended up buying them and using too many points at lunchtime.  She suggested that I make a big make-ahead dish on Sundays that I could take with me all week.  I’ve used this method quite a bit for my dinners, but never really thought about it for lunch.

One meal that comes to mind is soup, and that would work for this week, since the rainy weather continues.  So, what are your favorite, filling soup ideas?

Once the warm weather returns, soup isn’t going to cut it, so what are some other types of low-point (6-8 points per serving) lunch ideas that you make ahead and enjoy all week?

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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