ThePrep: My Shortcut Ingredient Go-Tos When I Don't Have Time to Cook
These are the dinners I make and the ingredients I use when I feel like I have zero time to make dinner.
Our column, ThePrep, has everything you'll need to make meal planning and meal prep as easy as can be. Sign up here to get a meal plan delivered to your inbox every Saturday!
As much as I can appreciate making certain foods from scratch (I love a good slow-cooked Sunday dinner!), if there's a just-as-tasty and relatively healthy shortcut ingredient I can use instead, then I'm probably going with the shortcut—especially if we're talking weeknight dinners. I already know this week will be a busy one—but really, when isn't it?
I'm determined to clear out our junk room this weekend to get it ready for a redo and know I'll be too tempted by the nice weather to do anything else after that. That means all of the errands I won't get to will have to happen before and after work this week, so I'm stocking up on some of my favorite convenience ingredients to help me get fast dinners on the table with as little stress as possible. Think jarred sauces, ready-to-use veggies, canned beans and quick-cooking proteins and grains.
Your Meal Plan
Most of the shortcut ingredients in this week's dinners are inherently healthy, like frozen peas, canned black beans and quick-cooking chicken cutlets. When it's harder to tell what the healthiest product might be, I compare labels at the store and go with the option that has ingredients I recognize with the least amount of sodium and added sugar. For this week, we did the label reading for you: Ingredients like the pineapple salsa in Sunday's Salmon Tacos with Pineapple Salsa and the pad thai sauce in Friday's Beef Pad Thai have already been vetted and shopping tips were added to the recipes, so you know exactly what to buy.
Monday: Easy Pea & Spinach Carbonara
Wednesday: No-Cook Black Bean Salad
Friday: Beef Pad Thai
In addition to the convenience ingredients called for in the recipes, I swapped in additional shortcut ingredients wherever possible in this week's shopping list, like having you buy peeled and deveined shrimp for Tuesday rather than doing that (in my opinion, gross) step yourself, and using frozen riced cauliflower instead of making your own on Thursday.
These chocolaty banana mini muffins—which you can whip up in your blender—are the perfect size for a snack or a quick morning bite to hold you over until breakfast.
Get the Recipe: Flourless Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Make a batch of these mouthwatering muffins and share a photo on Instagram using the hashtag #ThePrep
I picked up a bottle of elderberry syrup last week to help to fend off a cold and was reminded how much I love the rich berry flavor of the sweet syrup. This colorful elderberry cocktail recipe is a tasty way to enjoy the flavor and get a little immune boost at the same time. Or ditch the alcohol and make a just-as-delicious citrusy mocktail by combining the elderberry and lemon tonic.
Get the Recipe: Elderberry Sunset Cocktail
The shopping list includes enough ingredients to make 4 servings of this cocktail. Make a batch to enjoy with friends!
Love this newsletter, have a meal-prep tip you're dying to share or a question you need answering? Email me at ThePrep@eatingwell.com
ThePrep | Week of 10/12 - 10/18