Organization: Erin Falco RDN, Inc.
Author: Veronica Rechten
Publish Date: 11/15/22
When the sun goes down at 4PM, it makes it even more difficult to want to cook dinner, or pack lunch for the next day. It feels nice to order in or heat up a microwave meal sometimes and that's ok! How can we keep our immune system strong and seasonal sadness at bay? Here are some of our favorite ways to prep immune boosting meals during the winter!
Batch cooking is one meal prepping technique we recommend. Taking a chunk of time one day of the week prep for the whole week (or weeks) ahead is a great way to ensure you have balanced meals when you’re just not in the mood to cook! You don’t even have to know what you’ll have ahead of time. Just prep some staples and use them how you want them! Here are our favorite meal prep foods:
Prep your proteins:
Ground beef, turkey, beans or chicken are extremely versatile for so many meals. Throw them into pasta, for a quick taco night, add it to soup, or serve over rice with stir-fry veggies.
To batch cook meats:
Use up to 5lbs of the ground meat of your choice
Cook in a pan with salt, pepper, and garlic powder until done, or use a slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hrs
When done, drain and let cool completely. Spread out onto a baking sheet for quicker cooling
Transfer to gallon freezer bags (reusable if you can!), lay flat and stack them for freezing for up to 6 months
Chicken: another protein that can be used for almost anything! Make quesadillas with it, stir-fry, wraps, or salads.
To batch cook:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Use 12-15 chicken breasts and pound till they are all about ½” in thickness so they will cook evenly
Season with salt and pepper, or use a seasoning blend like adobo
Place on baking sheets, making sure not to overlap them
Cook for 15-20 minutes or until thermometer reads 160 degrees
Remove from oven and cool for 10-15min
Slice, shred, or dice chicken (you can do a little of everything)
Store in freezer bags, and stack in the freezer for up to 6mths
Beans: Another great, economical source of protein and fiber. Add beans to soups, stews, tacos, or salads. Dry beans are much cheaper than canned AND they eliminate risk of BPA (an endocrine disruptor) from the can linings.
To batch cook:
Cook according to package directions which will vary depending on the type of beans you’re using. This can be done in a pot, slow cooker, or pressure cooker. NOTE: when using dry beans, it is important to rinse them and make sure there are no stones or twigs hiding amongst the beans. Make sure to soak for at least a couple of hours before cooking. This will also improve the digestion of the beans.
Allow beans to cool, then transfer to freezer bags or reusable containers for the freezer. Beans will keep for up to 6 months
To defrost, leave in the fridge overnight, or put the container in a bowl of warm water for about an hour.
Use as you would canned beans in any recipe.
Prep your Grains
Whether it’s rice, quinoa, farro, or whatever your favorite grain is, you CAN batch cook and freeze them for later! The best part is that they can be cooked right from frozen without having to defrost them first. Use them in stir frys, salads, or side dishes to add complex carbohydrates in your meals!
To batch cook:
Cook your grains according to package directions
Spread cooked grains onto a baking sheet and fluff with a fork every few minutes to allow the steam to escape. This will keep your grains from clumping and turning mushy
Once cooled, transfer to freezer bags or reusable containers
Freeze for up to 3 mths.
Prep your Veggies
Adding veggies to our meals adds vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, and fiber to increase nutrients and satisfaction. Sometimes just the thought of washing, chopping, and cooking vegetables for dinner is enough to make us order pizza instead. So, how can we prep these guys to get them ready to use whenever we need them?
To batch cook:
Vegetables appropriate for freezing need to be hardy.
Root veggies like: potatoes, parsnips, carrots and beets are great, as are broccoli, cauliflower, and squash.
For veggies with a high-water content like zucchini and cucumber, these will usually turn to mush when thawed.
For leafy greens and herbs, try chopping them and freezing them in some broth in ice cube trays to add to soups later.
Wash and chop your vegetables before use
Freeze raw OR you can roast your veggies in the oven before freezing. Make sure they have cooled completely before transferring to a container to put in the freezer
Frozen veggies will keep for at least 6 months, and you can choose whether to thaw them in the fridge overnight, or just cook right from frozen.
If you need more nutritional support, visit us at www.erinfalcordn.com for more posts and webinars, and recipes. You can also contact us for a discovery call to become a patient.