Sometime last week during my training in Atlanta – probably as I was eating a chicken at Two Urban Licks or pumpkin gnocchi at Pasta da Pulcinella – a sad reality dawned on me. Now that I’m working full time, it will be a serious challenge to exercise every day and cook every day. Although I spent the past year studying with my nose in my books while taking the CPA exams and getting my masters degree, I took for granted the flexible schedule of a student, and perhaps never grasped how lucky I was to plan almost every hour of every day.
I know this transition to the working world is going to require patience, and I am determined not to be frustrated with myself if I have to get takeout every night of a really busy week. But I am trying my best to plan out my meals for the week on the weekend, and allow myself at least a few hours a week to spend time doing what I love most: cooking.
In order to get off on the right foot, I began to meal-prep for the week on Saturday evening. Derek and I were both tired from the previous week and the busy events of Saturday morning (which included our 5K race and a Junior League volunteer event for myself), so we decided to spend the evening at home, cooking and watching football. On the dinner menu Saturday night was Chicken Francese (recipe to come shortly!). While I was buying the chicken for the dish, I realized a smart idea (I have these seldomly) would be to prep and cook several chicken breasts for the week ahead. So I picked up 8 chicken breasts, and cooked them all in a multi-dimensional seasoning (which included garlic, panko bread crumbs, pepper, and a season-all spice) to be enjoyed in various dishes throughout the week!
While I was cooking our dinner, Derek, the master knife-handler, cut and chopped peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and we stored them in plastic bags for the week ahead.
This has proven to be super effective, and I really intend to do this every weekend to make my post-work meals (and leftovers for lunch at work) healthy and tasty every night!
So far, we’ve been able to use the chopped veggies and cooked chicken breasts in omelets for breakfast, salads to take to work for lunch, and several dinner recipes, included a tasty Chicken Fajita Salad. Below is my super easy recipe for a stomach-filling salad.
Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
4 chicken breasts, pre-cooked and seasoned to your liking
1/2 green pepper, cut into strips
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in halves
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp olive oil (or cooking spray)
1/2 bag romaine lettuce
Heat olive oil in a saute pan over high heat. When oil is hot, add in onion, pepper, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Let cook for 7 minutes, until onion starts to turn opaque in color. Add in tomatoes and chopped garlic, and cook for 3 more minutes.
Heat the chicken you already cooked (grilled, baked, sauteed etc.) in the microwave for 45 seconds – 1 minute.
Place lettuce on dinner plates, and top with cooked vegetables, chicken, cheese and salsa! Save some extra for lunch leftovers 😉
This made for a quick and healthy dinner, and we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. Happy Thursday, friends!!