One of my "tricks" of balancing a healthy lifestyle with a busy and stressful school schedule is having ready-made meals on hand that are nutritious and quick to throw together. This semester, I have one class that goes until 7:30PM and another class that goes until 8:00PM, so those nights I don't have time to cook a meal from scratch when I get home. Plus, I'm hungry and want to eat right away!
I generally like to cook on the weekend and then either refrigerate leftovers to have throughout the week or, even better, freeze leftovers so they'll last a long time.
One of my go-to recipes for stockpiling frozen meals is sweet potato and black bean burritos. I use black beans instead of kidney beans, add 1 cup of water instead of 2 cups, omit the mustard, use 8-inch whole wheat tortillas, and omit the cheese. I also gently combine the mashed sweet potatoes with the black bean mixture rather than adding them to the tortillas separately; I think the flavors taste better that way.
I'll have one fresh out of the oven, and then freeze the rest for later. The recipe says it makes 12 burritos, but last time I made a batch I actually got 23! This was because I used smaller tortillas (8-inch instead of 10-inch) and I used more sweet potatoes than the recipe called for.
They're so easy to freeze and they reheat extremely well. Just wrap each burrito individually in foil, then put them in a plastic bag (or multiple bags, depending on how many burritos you made) and store in the freezer. when you want to re-heat one, place a frozen burrito in the oven at 350* (still wrapped in foil) for 30 minutes, then unwrap and put it back in the oven for 15 more minutes. (I just put it back in the oven sitting on top of the unwrapped foil - no need to dirty a pan!) Add a side salad, veggies, and/or some fruit and you've got a great meal. And I think waiting for the burrito to re-heat is the perfect time to get my lunch ready for the next day/ wash some dishes/ pick up around my apartment, etc. It's a good excuse for me to be productive before plopping down on the couch and relaxing and/or studying for the night.
I also love to use my crock pot for making meals (including breakfasts). It's so great to come home to an apartment that smells wonderful and to have a hot meal ready and waiting for me! In the fall I made a big batch of veggie soup in the crock pot, and when I was tired of eating the leftovers, I froze a couple of containers for later. This past Sunday when I was planning out my meals for the week, soup sounded good (go figure it was actually 60* yesterday when I ate it!) so I put it in the fridge to thaw at the beginning of the week and then heated it up in the microwave yesterday. I topped it with some nutritional yeast (great source of protein and vitamin B12 with a slightly cheesy flavor) and had an orange on the side, which made a very delicious and satisfying meal.
I can't remember the last time I peeled an orange - it's been years. And I know why: they are such a pain! It tasted delicious (my grandparents sent a box of grapefruit and oranges from Florida), but I'll stick to my clementines; the orange was so juicy and had millions (seriously, millions) of seeds in it.
Today I did week 3 of the Fitnessista's winter shape-up plan again. I can tell that my running is slowly improving, which is exciting! My hair tie broke while I was on the treadmill today, though - luckily I was able to tie it together for a temporary fix and avert a disaster! True story - one time I got to the gym, changed into my workout clothes, then realized I didn't have a hair tie with me, so I left. It's a necessity.
On the schedule for tonight: shower, eat dinner, watch 30 Rock, and bake cookies. See ya later!
What's your favorite meal to make (or heat up) on busy days? Any great crock pot recipes?
Song of the day:
"L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N." by Noah and the Whale. A good song for a new month and a fresh start!