I’m not a huge fan of traditional “food prep”. I love food way too much to pack nearly identical meals into 7 separate tupperware and go about my week without choice and creativity.
Besides, for our family, most days don’t look the same. Our schedules, physical activity, and available time to cook and/or eat fluctuate, and as such so do our nutritional needs from day to day.
Lets be real, Mamas spend a great deal of time each day in the kitchen… this is WHY its called the heart of the home! Between preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks, dishes in between, packing lunches, putting the coffee on, etc., the difference between being on point (or not being on point) in your kitchen can make or break the functionality of your whole day!
But here’s the thing (again)- I LOVE food. It is beautiful, inspirational, seasonal, fresh, delicious, comforting… I could go on. I’m not a mom who can compromise the quality of my snacks and mealtime offerings for the sake of time.
So what I really love- is to maintain a feeling of bounty and abundance in my kitchen. Think seasonal fruit and homemade breads ready for a morning treat with hot coffee, a fresh veggie-packed Salad prepped in the fridge for whenever you need a healthy pick-me-up, or a warm, nutrient rich soup that’s FULL of flavor just waiting on the stove to feed those hungry bellies….
I have found over the years that our home runs SO SMOOTHLY when I have a range of delicious, high quality go-to’s like these waiting in my kitchen. If they’re prepped and ready to go… just waiting to be eaten OR to assist me in easily preparing another meal for my family, they’re kitchen keepers.
So, 5 Foods. I’ve compiled this list of 5 because its what I see myself making again and again to start a new week. These 5 blend well together, and offer just the right amount of well rounded variety to fill most needs on the daily when made together. I hope you find it works for your home, too!
ONE: A Baked EGG DISH
Eggs are full of protein (which we ALWAYS need), plus warm and satisfying. They can be paired with veggies and/or grains to round out any meal in a wholesome and delicious way. But making eggs fresh every morning (especially per person, with fresh veggies, etc.) can be unrealistic. Instead, I love to make a big, pie-style frittata or quiche that’ll keep in the fridge for a week. I make it once, slice it up, and its ready to go for anyone, morning (noon or night).
This one is a maple sausage frittata with a hash brown crust, boasting bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and fresh thyme.
I also love to make a crustless veggie frittata with loads of spinach, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese. Its as easy as sauteing the filling ingredients, placing them in the bottom of a pie dish, pouring beaten eggs on top, and baking.
TWO: A Fresh SALAD
My week is just plain not right if I don’t have a Salad in my fridge at the start of it. It is so important for us to have fresh prepped veggies at our fingertips, as washing and prepping them as needed can be time consuming. THIS is what makes us reach for pantry snacks instead!
So, I have found it really convenient to chop a TON of Romaine, wash, drain, and spin it dry with my Salad Spinner, then while the lettuce is sitting in the strainer portion of the spinner, I simply dry the bowl of the spinner and pour my dried lettuce right in. What I love about doing it this way is that I can place the lid right on top to store it in the fridge. Plus, the little hole in the spinner lid to pour the water out gives the PERFECT amount of ventilation to keep my salad fresh all week long.
I pack my salads with veggies, seeds and nuts, and scoop out a serving once or twice a day, and drizzle over some vinegar and oil upon serving. (Don’t dress the Salad in advance. Just don’t). My regular go-to ingredients are broccoli, bell pepper, red onion, carrot, snap peas, cranberries, pecans, and hemp seeds. The more moist veggies (always grape tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado for me) I sometimes leave out of the larger mix to keep from getting soggy (if I know I wont be going through the whole thing in a day or two).
This week, however, my pregnant self has been CRAVING CITRUS. So I made this Citrus Avocado Salad with honey, lime, and fresh mint. Unfortunately I ate this all in one day so its not ready and waiting for me in my fridge this week! But my point is, no need to limit yourself to just traditional salads. Think outside the box to make a seasonal salad that suits your produce cravings and nutritional needs. I’ll share some of my go to pasta, veggie, and quinoa salads in the future, but there is of course always plenty of recipe inspiration just a google search away.
THREE: A Roast CHICKEN
Many of you know from experience that having cooked chicken ready in the fridge can lend itself to a wide variety of dishes. However, Roasting a chicken gets even better. Its cheaper by the pound to buy a whole chicken, plus, roasting it is far less prep and imparts more flavor and juiciness than any other means of cooking chicken (in my humble opinion). I roast it with the skin on, usually after applying just olive oil, Himalayan salt and cracked pepper. If I want a little more flavor, I’ll rub it with chili powder and cumin (for a Mexican flare), butter and fresh herbs (for a Provencal flavor), or some citrus and honey (because its yummy).
Once the chicken is roasted, I separate the breasts from the dark meat. I slice the breasts and have them ready to eat plain, on salads, or use for soups. I shred the dark meat and use it to make chicken salad sandwhiches, enchiladas, or any number of shredded chicken creations for dinner that week. Then, use the carcass to make homemade chicken stock for, you guess it, (see below).
FOUR: Homemade SOUP
I am more of a soup lover than anyone I know. I can’t get around this fact. Soup is a one pot wonder that gives room for so. much. creativity when it comes to variety of ingredients and use of seasonings to impart flavor. When the veggies and herbs start sauteing, right at the beginning, that.s my favorite part.
I love both brothy soup and creamy soup. Noodle soup and bean soup. Meaty and veg. I love french onion, minestrone, broccoli cheddar, and split pea. I love potato soup, tomato soup, Italian wedding, and so on….. but my ultimate favorite under the sun is homemade Chicken soup. There is nothing more comforting and satisfying in the world for me, and it has become a favorite of my family. I have always made mine from scratch without measuring, but as soon as I take note of my homemade recipe, I’ll link it here.
Once a pot of soup is made, It’s good to remain in the pot to be heated again and again on the stove and transferred to the fridge in between (Just make sure its heated and cooled quickly, without sitting too long and room temp.) This way, it is ready at the drop of a dime for healthy and warm lunches and dinners. My girl loves to have warm soup when she wakes up from her afternoon nap, and a small cup is a perfect snack for her before dinner.
FIVE: fresh baked BREAD
It goes without saying that fresh bread makes everything feel a little bit better. Its the taste of home. Its also one of the most versatile things you can prepare in advance for quick use in your kitchen. I love to make loafs of banana, zucchini, or carrot bread to provide a healthy, produce-packed, less prep alternative to morning toast or pancakes. Cornbread is great with chili at night, and eggs the next morning.
Fresh pastry is amazing for breakfast, desserts, and snacks, and beats processed grocery store goods (but are just as convenient once prepared). A loaf of french, white, or wheat can be used for sandwiches, garlic bread, and then croutons or bread crumbs when it dries out and becomes stale.
I hope you enjoyed these Sunday kitchen ideas, and I hope you find them helpful in living a bit more simply day to day. Please let me know what other simple lifestyle ideas you’d like to learn more about!