Sunday, August 29, 2010

Three More Days of Inspiration

I thought it was about time I did another post on a half week of healthy, delicious cooking to keep everyone inspired. Why "3 Days" of cooking? I theorize that I have only ten meals to plan each week. Breakfasts are easy - bowls of cereal or oatmeal, smoothies, bars, fruit, the occasional egg dish. I spend weekends eating with the husband man, usually at restaurants. Even if we eat at home, I consider it a different category of food preparation. Which leaves me five weekdays of lunches and dinners to think about. I assume I will make a "convenient" meal twice, maybe thrice - a sandwich or prepared meal like a Kashi frozen dinner, takeout or delivery once or twice a month, or even the rare weekday meal eaten out at a restaurant. I also assume that one or two of the dishes I make in my "3 Days" will allow for yummy leftovers reheated. So that leaves me with, on average, six meals - three days of lunches and dinners - to think ahead about when I grocery shop and start my prep work. Logically, I could spread these six meals out throughout the five days, intermingled with the convenience meals rather than consecutive. But that would ruin the narrative, now wouldn't it?

Thanks to sales at Safeway, my proteins for this particular three days of lunches and dinners were chicken (six organic breasts for $6!) and beef sirloin (three 5oz. steaks for $6!).

Prep: I wrapped up three breasts and one sirloin and tossed them in the freezer for later use. Then I fired up the George Foreman and grilled up corn leftover from my very successful quinoa experiment, two steaks, and three chicken breasts in batches one after the other. I dusted all the meat with garlic salt prior to grilling - prep doesn't get much easier than that.

Day 1

Sirloin Steak, Corn, & Snap Peas

For the first meal, I kept it simple, since already putting my effort into prep work. Besides, while hot and fresh, it didn't need embellishment. Alongside my 5oz. steak, I added half a cob of corn and a handful of snap peas, both ingredients that made an appearance in my quinoa salad.

Red Curry with Chicken & Vegetables

As anyone who read my guest post over on Gamer Girl Gets Thin knows, I'm sort of obsessed with finding a tasty, easy, and healthy curry to make at home. Therefore, I have been slowly working my way down the shelf of curries at the store, with varying degrees of success. This night, I shredded one of the chicken breasts, sauteed a package of mushrooms (buy 1 get 1 free at Safeway - score!), steamed a quarter head of cauliflower, and added 2/3 cup of frozen peas. I heated all of this with a jar of Thai Kitchen's red curry, then served it over microwaveable brown rice. All in all, a fast and filling one-pot meal that came in at under 300 calories. Definitely healthier and cheaper than ordering take out, and perfectly palatable to boot. Palatable as in I will eat the leftovers. Still not good enough to make me give up my favorite Thai delivery, but I don't expect that from a jar.

Day 2

Sirloin Steak on a Bed of Whole Grains with a Side of Sesame Soy Snap Peas

I heated garlic brown rice with quinoa and topped it with a chopped 5oz. steak and a drizzle of gravy. For the vegetable, I tossed together some of my famous Sesame Soy Snap Peas. Satisfying. Simple.


Chicken Salad Sandwich with Quinoa Salad

I shredded half a chicken breast and tossed it with a little Smart Balance Mayo, a tiny dollop of garlic infused olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and onion, toasted almond slivers, salt and pepper. Threw it on a sandwich thin and spooned some leftover quinoa salad on the side. Crazy yummy and very filling.

Day 3

Curried Chicken & Brown Rice Salad

For those of you taking notes (an image that makes me giggle), you can maybe guess what I would do with leftover brown rice, coconut milk, and chicken. Hmmmm... Maybe some curried rice salad? Yes, please! One cup of the garlic brown rice and quinoa, half a chicken breast shredded, toasted almond slivers, toasted coconut shreds, chopped onion, apple chunks, dried cranberries - all things I already had. For the dressing, the chicken absorbs less than the rice, so by replacing half the rice, I also reduce the amount of liquid. 1/4-1/3 cup light coconut milk, a couple tablespoons of rice vinegar, I left out the garlic since some already flavored the rice and instead grated in some ginger from the freezer, and a lot of curry powder. After I stirred the dressing into the salad, I added a tablespoon of Smart Balance mayo to thicken it a bit and hold everything together to go in a low carb/high fiber wrap rather than a bowl. This made enough for two wraps, so the rest went into the fridge for later yummies. I love the versatility and spontaneity of this salad. I make it a little differently each time, and it's always awesome.

Mushroom Lentil Casserole

I will conquer the Campbell's-less casserole! I've just about perfected this pursuit in my mushroom lentil version. Awhile back, I created a surprisingly delectable casserole using Near East Rice & Lentil Pilaf, Campbell's  Cream of Chicken soup, and chicken broth. Now I'm near cracking the code for making it even better without the soup. I'm still finagling the liquid amounts. This time I had a lot of extra liquid leftover. Not that it affected the outcome, which I think I've about perfected. It just seems silly to write a recipe that tells my readers to dump out extras. I'll post the recipe once I have it fine tuned. I bet I can even work out a vegetarian version. I love my projects! 


This used the last chicken breast, the last of the onion, and the second container of mushrooms. Even with the husband man home for this meal (and seconds were had - better seconds of this nutritional dish than gorging on popcorn at the movie we saw after), I still had a bowl leftover for later. See why I only need to plan three days of meals? That's leftovers of red curry, curried chicken salad, and mushroom lentil casserole to get me through the other days of the week without getting bored or wasting food. And that's the whole point of my 3 Days/6 Meals system.

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