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Help me think of tasty, nutritious prep-ahead dishes to keep in my fridge for quick breakfasts and dinners

Sorry for the generic title, here's the longer explanation: for the last few years, my cooking has gone all over the map due to changes in family and health. At the present I feel somewhat adrift; I can't cook the way I really want to, or the way I was used to, for various reasons.

I'm trying to think of things that I can prep ahead of time and re-heat (or eat cold) for quick, nutritious meals for me. The time crunch is in the morning while trying to get the kids ready for school, and in the late afternoon while i'm making their dinner.

I'm looking for nutritious but not necessarily low-fat things, especially those that incorporate lots of veggies. I don't really love salads but if I put some avocado on it that helps :-) It's just me eating the stuff so a big pot of something doesn't really work either (I'm not into crockpots, but my rice cooker has a pressure cook function that I use often). I could freeze leftovers but I've learned that one of my quirks is that I don't really like frozen leftovers. So 3-4 servings of something, that isn't too much work, would be about right. (Too much work would be the multiple curries that I used to make for a weeknight dinner).

I love a fried egg with veggies (leftover curry, kimchee, etc) and rice but even that's that's usually too time consuming in the am rush. One thing that's worked is an "egg bake" with spinach and quinoa (will post recipe if anyone wants it). And for the afternoon snack I've been making roasted brussels sprouts with beets.

Please hit me with your suggestions!

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  1. Roasted carrot & chickpea salad
    Kale chips
    Veggies & humus
    Steamed/blanched green beans w/miso dressing
    Veggie tuna
    Israeli salad (pack dressing separately)

    4 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake17

      Can you elaborate on the carrot & chickpea salad, please? Do you roast the chickpeas or just the carrots? ALso would be interested to hear more about the green beans with miso dressing.

      1. re: gimlis1mum

        Carrots and chickpeas: roast thin coins of carrots with salt, pepper, cumin, and olive oil. Toss (while warm) with a can of chickpeas and lemon, olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin. You can add feta before serving/eating.

        Green beans: I blanch a whole bag of fresh green beans and leave them in the fridge. My daughter likes to dip them in the dressing, and husband likes them tossed in the dressing with scallions added.
        Dressing: miso paste, sesame seeds, fresh ginger, hot water, rice vinegar, sesame oil. Blend in blender till smooth. I like to make it thick and thin as necessary.

    2. Here is a few things I keep on hand for easy grab and go meals

      Egg sandwiches. Toast WW english muffins. Cook a large veggie omelet and cut out with a cookie cutters, layer english muffins with cooked eggs and a slice of cheese. ham optional. Freeze. Micro fo 30 secs to 2 min depending on your micrwave.

      Make big batches of WW pancakes and/or waffles on the weekend and freeze. Pop in the toaster and top with a nut butter of your choice.

      Make crustless quiches with veggies and meat of your choice. Cut into wedges or squares and freeze. Grab, micro and go.

      Use your rice cooker and make big batches of rice. On the weekend make a variety of fried rices with veggies, eggs, meats, etc. Freeze in appropriate portions. These are good cold or hot.

      Barbara Kafka Sichuan green beans are fabulous to keep on hand for snacks.

      grill up chicken breasts and slice. Add to salads, make wraps, etc

      1. Do you like beans? A pot of beans, made in the rice cooker if you wish, as well as a pot of grains can be the basis for many different dishes, burritos, soups, casseroles. I also steam up a big pot of greens , often spinach or kale, every few days to add to beans, soups, a frittata, or a bowl of miso soup.
        The key to eating more vegetables is to prep them ahead, they can then be steamed in the microwave in minutes.
        I also roast large batches of roots to last a few days and can make winter salads. I keep easy protein sources, like tuna, salmon,sardines around. A frittata is easy to make with lots of vegetables and is good at room temp; can be cut into servings and easily grabbed.
        Also, nut butters are great on celery, kohlrabi, an apple.

        1 Reply
        1. re: magiesmom

          Yeah, if you cook up a pot of beans (or lentils) on Sunday afternoon, you can re-purpose them in a myriad of ways for the week ahead--soup, chili, bean burgers, etc.

        2. 1) A package of corn tortillas and a can of refried beans, both open and ready in the refrigerator, can be combined with any handy vegetables, cooked chicken or any meat, eggs, or just about anything. Think: tacos. 2) If you use pre-made frozen pie crust, a quiche can be thrown together in a couple of minutes (beat 3 eggs, add 2 cups milk, then add anything, especially pre-shredded cheese). Bake it when you have time (evenings?) and keep it on hand.You can zap a slice in 30 seconds. 3) If you are using a pressure cooker, you can make barbecued beef and keep buns on hand. 4) Anything you like that can be made ahead in quantity will help you out: chili, spaghetti, chicken and noodles, minestrone, anything that you can dip into again and again. 5) Hard-boil a dozen eggs. Devil them if you like, or not. 6) Make tuna salad with 2 cans tuna, celery, mayonnaise. 7) Consider making up several sandwiches at the same time, wrapping them in Saran, and keeping them ready in your refrigerator. 8)) Don't overlook cereal...... Am I hearing you right that your life in is in some kind of transitional stage? You need to be taking care of yourself, and part of that is feeding yourself. And don't forget to feed your children---they need that stability if things have been changing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Querencia

            Yes, we are in a big transition. Which is part of the reason that I'm indulging the kids and making them "kid foods" or at least the healthiest versions I can that they will eat without fighting me too much.

            Sometimes I pre-make sandwiches for the kids' lunches, don't know why I hadn't thought of it for myself! Duh. Well, that's why I posted :-)

            Thanks to all for the ideas. Keep em coming!

          2. I'm confused, are you making dinner for you and your children in the late afternoon? Or are you asking for something for you to have for dinner that is different from what you are serving your children? Or really just a snack while you are preparing dinner for your family?

            3 Replies
            1. re: Springhaze2

              She means a snack while prepping her kids dinner- late afternoon. I do the same thing.

              1. re: Springhaze2

                Sorry I wan't clear. I'm making dinner for the kids in the late afternoon (they eat around 6 pm), and I don't usually want to eat what i'm making for them (please hold the judgement, it's a long story). But I want to have a snack/small meal to get me through until I get them to bed & can make something else for myself around 8-8:30 pm.

                1. re: gimlis1mum

                  Sorry, was not judging at all. Been there, done that. I was thinking more around maybe using some of what you are making for them as a snack for yourself. Like if you are making the something that might start with sauteing some veggies or something like onions, use that to top a whole wheat pita with some cheese and maybe some sun-dried tomatoes or jarred roasted peppers.

                  If you are preparing fresh veggies for them, have some hummus or yogurt based dip and eat some of the veggies with a dip while you are cooking. I used to keep bags of baby carrots and snap peas on hand for snacking like this.

                  Start introducing some grains to your children's diet, like barley, quinoa, farro, or even brown rice or whole wheat couscous so you can flavor some to your taste (think jarred pesto sauces or curry paste) and leave the rest of it plain for them.

                  You need to take care of yourself so you can be the best parent for them. You are indulging them with "kid foods", find some things to indulge yourself too. For me that meant nice savory flavors like hummus, olives, good cheese, jarred roasted veggies, and grains that I could flavor with curries and pesto, plus bread...