Maybe we shouldn't talk about how well unbaked cookies freeze. . .
Want to know something weird about me? Every few weeks, and especially when the seasons change--especially, especially just before school starts -- I feel the need to stock my freezer with food. It's like I have this internal alarm system that's like, "You have to make food for the coming apocalypse in which your freezer will still work and you'll have access to a stove and microwave!" Yeah, I don't get it either BUT it's really convenient for weeknight dinners! So, what do I make?
1. Black Bean Burgers. Confession: I was late to the black bean burger party. I do love the ones from the store, but they're pretty expensive and I tend to go through them pretty quickly. Plus, y'all know I would rather make things at home if I can. When I stumbled upon Jenna's recipe years ago, I was HOOKED. I seriously make these every few weeks and am always running out. First of all, they are pretty cheap---much more so than the pre-made, store bought version. Second, they are insanely delicious -- way better than store bought! Third of all, they're so versatile, which is why they're always gone so fast. We crumble them up for burrito bowls, throw them on top of nachos, add them to breakfast tacos, or just eat them with some avocado slices. I don't think I can recommend a recipe more than this one.
2. Turkey Burgers. Usually I keep the flavoring pretty low key so that they can be more flexible. We eat them straight with avocado and tomato, greek--with olives and tatziki sauce, or we crumble them into pasta sauce for zoodles, or add them to burrito bowls, or even add them to breakfast scrambles. Sometimes I'll make different versions or add basil and they still never stay in the freezer for long.
3. Pesto. If black bean burgers are my number one recommendation then this might be my second. I have always loved pesto but all of the cheese and oil is not loved by my body any more. I thought I'd given up on pesto until this dairy and nut free pesto. Even my husband, who bemoans all things fake cheese and imitation, totally loves this pesto. It is bright, insanely flavorful, and has no dairy and less oil than many versions. You seriously need to try it. Bonus: It freezes super well and there are probably 6 small jars in my freezer. I'm excited just thinking about them.
4. Bars. I love grab and go snacks, don't you? These are the Raspberry Chia Oat Squares I made for our picnic a few weeks ago--they freeze beautifully. Granola bars are totally my thing, too. Texture? Yes. Fruit and nuts? Check and check. Easy to make in bulk? Oh yea. My go to recipes are the Blueberry Oat bars from the Tone It Up nutrition plan and these amazing ones from Smitten Kitchen. I've made them a few times and love them.
5. Energy Bites. These are really very similar to number 4 so maybe that cheating BUT these are smaller which means they're cuter and we can have more of them, win! I like a lot of different versions from ones with protein powder to ones that taste like cookies to ones that are like brownies but they are all easy, made in bulk, keep well in the freezer, and make a great snack.
Some nights I have very specific food desires, where only what I'm craving or thinking about will do and other times I just can't be bothered to expend the mental energy to figure out what I'll ingest that night. Ebb and flow, people, ebb and flow.
So, if you're coming back from the holiday weekend thinking, God, what am I going to make for dinner? and without that mental energy to decide, here are 5 fast, flavorful meals to get you started. These are the ones that are easy and delicious and therefore the ones I make again and again.
1. Burrito Bowls: Quinoa + protein ( usually chicken ) + vegetables ( bell peppers, tomatoes, and avocados ) + salsa + homemade hot sauce (totally optional!) + "sour cream" ( greek yogurt + lime + salt & pepper) = Easy. Fast. Delicious. Done.
2. Stir Fry: The one above is the Thai Coconut Tofu from the Tone It Up nutrition plan, but I also use tofu and frozen vegetables + soy sauce and ginger or a peanut sauce to make a fast, tasty stir fry that's ready in no time. Tofu is often faster to cook than other proteins but of course you could use anything else if you're not as into tofu as I am.
3. Greek Meatballs: Even if you don't obsessively freeze meal items like I do, meatballs are pretty fast to make. Turkey meatballs + tomatoes + avocado + sun-dried tomatoes + kalamata olives ( + feta cheese if you're into that! ) = a fast yet flavorful dinner. If I'm feeling really ambitious I'll put it on top of zoodles ( spiralized zucchini ) or brown rice pasta, and some times I'll even make a take on a tatziki sauce ( greek yogurt + lots of lemon juice + salt & pepper + dill, if I have it) to go with it.
4. Shrimp + Quinoa + Mango Salsa. My husband is usually kind enough to flavor ( salt, pepper, chili power, and sometimes garlic powder seasoning mix ) and cook up some shrimp from the freezer while I make a mango salsa by dicing mango, avocado, some jalapeños ( if I have them ), and some red onion, mixed with a little lime juice. Dinner is ready in about fifteen minutes and I never get tired of it.
5. Turkey / Black Bean Burgers. I usually freeze these to have on hand but, again, even if you're making them that night they are pretty fast. These can be so versatile -- you could make turkey burgers greek like I did with the meatballs or Mexican like I did with the burrito bowl or you could add pesto or go more traditional with some avocado, tomato, and lettuce. Black bean burgers are great on their own, here, or as taco filling or on top of nachos. Both are fast, delicious, and full of protein!
What are your go-to dinners?