I had some free time over the weekend, so I sat down with my laptop, opened up Excel, and scheduled out every hour of my work week in a beautifully color coded spreadsheet.
Did I mention I’m an accountant?
Anyway, once I factored in sleep, work, exercise, commute, time to eat, and bathing/primp time, I found I have about three hours of “free” time each work day. THREE. I have big aspirations each week—home cooked meals, coffee with friends, blogging, Wheel of Fortune, flossing, plus 30 minutes of reading before bed—but with these dismal findings, it’s clear I can’t squeeze all of that in every night.
Years ago, in an effort to increase my workweek free time, I started batch cooking food on Sundays. Sunday morning, while I sip my coffee and listen to NPR, I get to work in kitchen cooking meals for the workweek and portioning them into single-serve containers. The single-serve containers are KEY.
A typical Sunday cooking session includes:
- 5 servings of steel cut oats with almonds, blueberries, and cinnamon
- 2 servings of quinoa (for sprinkling on salad)
- 2 salads. Lately it’s mixed greens, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, feta cheese, and half a serving of cold quinoa plus balsamic vinaigrette (in a separate container). I only prepare salads two at a time because I HATE soggy veggies. Blegh.
- 5 snacks. My go-tos are hummus & veggies, Greek yogurt and fruit, or a loaf of sprouted bread that I keep at work along with some PB to make sandwiches at my desk. Don’t judge. I also keep a container of almonds in my desk drawer.
- The wild card: something, ANYTHING, I can use for workweek dinners
On a normal work day, I make myself eggs and toast before heading to the office, but when I’m really crunched for time I’ll cook a large batch of scrambled eggs or an egg casserole on Sunday that I can quickly heat up each morning before heading out the door.
I can get by eating the same breakfast, lunch, and snacks most days of the week, but when it comes to dinner I honestly get depressed if I eat the same boring thing every night.
Dinner ideas usually come from brainstorming ways to use up leftovers from the weekend. Other times I’ll cook a big batch of something that I can use in many different ways, so I don’t get stuck eating the same thing four nights in a row. That could be a giant roasted spaghetti squash, a batch of black bean burgers, or a pot of some sort of grain. This week, my dinners will revolve around a big ole batch of beans and bulgur.
If you haven’t tried bulgur, don’t be scared–it’s a whole grain that’s higher in fiber and protein than brown rice, easy to cook, and has a great chewy texture.
I’ll be honest, sometimes I eat the beans and bulgur cold, straight from the bowl in the fridge. (I have a bizarre love of cold grains–especially when eaten from a Chinese takeout box.) Other days, I’ll toss the beans and bulgur onto a salad or use them as the base for meatless tacos.
Tonight, I topped the hot beans and bulgur with fresh tomato, green onion, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and had some steamed broccoli with lemon juice on the side.
Beans and bulgur, baby.
Beans and Bulgur
Makes 4 small servings (or 2 large)
- 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken stock, divided
- 1/2 cup uncooked quick cooking bulgur (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 15 ounces pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 ounces chopped green chiles
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- Hot sauce (optional)
In a small pot, bring 1/2 cup stock to a boil, stir in bulgur, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, season with S&P, and sauté for 5 minutes. Then add the beans, green chiles, cumin, and 1/4 cup stock. Add hot sauce to your liking (I recommend a squirt of Sriracha). Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and allow to simmer and thicken for 10 minutes. Then stir in cooked bulgur.
Stats on 1/4 of beans and bulgur: 210 calories, 35g carbs, 4g fat, 9g protein, 10g fiber