The meal preppers. We’ve all seen one. Those mystical people on Instagram who manage to make a month’s worth of meals in one go, leaving themselves organised and thus carefree to do whatever they like instead of wasting time on cooking. If you’re a fan of eating chicken, broccoli and brown rice every day for the next month, this may seem like a fantastic idea. But for many of us, this seems both daunting and tiresome.
I am one of those people who enjoys ‘meal-prep’ but within reason – I have figured out a method that works for me. I love cooking, it’s my way to unwind and de-stress after work. However, I hate the morning rush to work (which starts before 5am for me on a day shift) so if I have any chance of a healthy lunch at the hospital, I need to be prepared.
Enter the Frozen Salad. Yes you heard me correctly.
These are salads that you can easily make ahead, with little cooking, that can be customised to any dietary requirements, that freeze well and just require some reheating when ready to be consumed. Now obviously there will be no lettuce featured here, but if you replace the foliage with various vegetables that are able to be eaten heated, then you’ll open your mind to a whole different world of salad creativity!
Constructing The Frozen Salad
- Choose your base: I cook quinoa in the microwave and then mixing it with Dijon mustard and tomato paste, and I’m also a huge fan of those 2 minute brown or black rice packets from the supermarket (the Ancient Grains from Coles is particularly good). Easy!
- Choose your foliage: I tend to stick with spinach, rocket or kale because they withstand the freezer well and taste reasonably palatable when reheated.
- Choose your protein: Chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils, black eyed beans, salmon and tofu are all firm favourites of mine here! But you could also throw in your leftover chicken or beef from the night before, whatever takes your fancy!
- Choose your vegetables: I know you’ve already got foliage but trust me, once you realise the many different options available, you’ll want to experiment! Roast whatever vegetables you have with some olive oil, salt and a sprinkle of herbs or seasoning of your choice and add them to the mix – think sweet potato, pumpkin, broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, turnips and carrots. It’s also a great way to use up the vegetables that are edging slowly closer to their used by date but won’t all be eaten in time. Don’t forget your canned vegetables if you’re short on time as well, particularly corn and beetroot.
- Choose your miscellaneous flavoursome toppings: Cherry or semi-dried tomatoes, roasted or finely sliced raw capsicum, pickles, dukkha or a sprinkle of strong cheese all work magnificently as your finishing touches!
You will quickly get the hang of this as you discover which flavours you like (and I’ve attached a few ideas below!). When an hour of meal prep can save you a week’s worth of stale cafeteria sandwiches or deep fried junk, then why not give it a go?!
Black beans, chick peas, roasted sweet potato, leafy greens, grana padano cheese.
5 Ancient Grains mixed with mustard and tomato paste, with red kidney beans, sundried tomatoes, leafy greens and capsicum.
Panfried salmon with crunchy Asian slaw and wilted greens
Sauteed silverbeet and kale with celery, dukka and grana adano cheese (eaten with eggs on the side).
Pearly barley cooking with crushed tomatoes, with kidney beans, corn, celery and kale.
Roasted vegetables with sage and thyme, with Mayver’s Super Spread (a blended mixture of nuts and chia seeds).
Pearl barley and lentils with kale, asparagus, capsicum and tahini.