I’ve written before about easy meal prep recipes to make in bulk and freeze for easy meals at work and during the week. This edition of “meal prep for professionals” focuses on one particular kitchen appliance – the trusty oven!
“Baking” can seem daunting for some, and you may even be one of those people who uses their oven for storage instead (Carrie from SATC I’m looking at you). But the oven can be your best friend when it comes to meal prep, where you can roast multiple different proteins and vegetables at the same time to create any number of amazing dishes.
The trick to it is choosing proteins that cook quickly and vegetables that can be grouped into those which take a similar amount of time to cook. Remember this is all being packed away, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s not all hot at the same time!
An example of one of my recent meal prep afternoons:
Three dishes (making 3-4 portions of each = 9-12 meals!)
Pesto barramundi with carrots and sweet potato
- 2 large barramundi fillets
- 3 tablespoons of your favourite pesto
- 3 large purple and 3 large orange carrots
- 150g baby spinach leaves
- 3 small sweet potatoes
Turkey with zucchini, beetroot, pumpkin and dukka
- 500g turkey breast fillet
- 150g spinach leaves
- 3 medium zucchinis
- 6 small beetroots
- 200g pumpkin
- 3 tablespoons of your favourite dukkha
Ras el hanout spiced pilaf with pumpkin and honey mustard pumpkin seeds
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon Ras el Hanout (Arabic spice mix)
- 200g pumpkin
- 1 tin tomatoes (salt reduced)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 packet of microwave brown, black and red rice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
While the list of ingredients may seem potentially expensive, I save heaps by buying the “ugly” produce where I can (still tastes the same!) and by also shopping seasonally.
- Preheat the oven to 180*C.
- Wash and chop ALL of the vegetables! This may seem like the longest part, but it can be made much more enjoyable with Netflix or music playing in the background. Leave the skin on wherever practical to maximise your micronutrients, while also saving time on peeling.
- Don’t throw away the pumpkin seeds! Wash them, remove the pumpkin strands, then toss in the honey and mustard, and set aside ready for roasting.
- Proteins first. On separate oven trays, roast the barramundi and turkey until cooked through (about 15 minutes). Remove and set aside to rest to free up some oven space!
- Group the starchy vegetables (pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot) and group the slightly softer ones (zucchini and carrots) together on the oven trays (you may take up the entire oven!). The softer ones will take about 20 minutes while the starchy ones will take more like 30-40 minutes. The perfect way to keep track of this is to keep a timer on your phone. Put everything in at the same time and put your feet up until you need to take the trays out!
- While you’re waiting for this, now is the time to prepare the ridiculously easy pilaf. Microwave the rice according to the instructions, then mix in a large bowl with the chickpeas, Ras el Hanout and tomatoes. Simple!
- Leave the pumpkin seeds until last because they can burn if you leave them in for too long. 10 minutes should do the trick.
- And now, the assembly! Grab all of your airtight containers and lay them out on the bench. Put spinach in the bottom of all of them, then the vegetables as per the recipe above, then your designated proteins, then your toppings (pesto, dukka or pumpkin seeds). Put a couple in the fridge and a few in the freezer and you’re officially set!