Meal Prep Madness: March

Ever since I started working, meal prep has been a part of my life as a solution to more costly takeouts and food choices that are rather limited. I’m still no expert when it comes to cooking, but I can honestly say I’ve come a long way and only getting better. 

Now that I’m back on the workforce, I’m also back to cooking up my own food for the week. Albeit we have a cafeteria that makes it really convenient for me to eat whenever I’m tired and lazy, I have taken it upon myself to cook one of my meals instead of doing a takeaway just so I can still monitor my intake.

(Before I dive in into the details, please know that I’m no square cooker; I rarely ever use proper measurements and eyeball the ingredients because that’s the beauty of cooking for me — I like being able to adjust as I go so if you want to follow the recipes, do follow them with precaution. And I try to describe the procedures as detailed as possible, but if it’s still not clear, please let me know. This is my first time posting a recipe blog so I want to make it as easy for you as possible.)

Here are a couple of my stellar recipes for month of March’s meal prep madness:

Week 1

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Cheat Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce

(I call this baby my cheat spaghetti as I’m using store-bought spaghetti sauce instead of doing it from scratch which makes everything done quickly. Should you want to make the sauce from scratch, I’ll try to share with you some time my spaghetti sauce recipe from scratch.)

500g Barilla Spaghettini no. 5 Pasta
1 pack of brown mushrooms, chopped
500g UFC Spaghetti Sauce in Sweet Filipino Style
1/2 red onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of Tuna
1/4 stick of 60g Almarai unsalted butter
1 small pack of Puck cooking cream

  • On a sauce pan, heat up about 1 to 2L of water and salt it accordingly to cook your pasta in and cook it as per package instructions; Be reminded that it is important to salt your water but DO NOT put oil or the sauce won’t stick
  • On a separate sauce pan, melt 1/4 stick of butter and pour about a tablespoon of cooking oil to cook your mushrooms in; cook it until it shrinks, limps and gets a nice shade of brown
  • Once cooked, set aside; using the same oil and butter mixture, drop your garlic and onion into the pan and let it sweat and turn translucent then follow it up with the drained can of tuna and mix for a few minutes
  • Add back in the brown mushrooms, and add the pack of Spaghetti sauce as well and mix again
  • Once all ingredients are nicely married together, finish it off with the small pack of cooking cream to balance out the sweetness and sourness of the sauce
  • To serve, twirl a big forkful of pasta into a plate and create a small mountain or triangular shaped pile. Scoop and drizzle the sauce on top. Add a few shavings of cheddar/mozzarella cheese or a freshly-cracked black pepper should you want

Week 2

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Beef with Broccoli

(As you can see, the food I make are easy and classic so there’s really not much risk to screw it up. As much as possible, I make food I would enjoy eating and would not get sick of after a few days. This time, I mixed some good ol’ cooking cream on my Beef with Broccoli.)

1/4 kilo of beef strips
1 pack of brown mushrooms
1 tbsp of Almarai unsalted butter
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1/2 head of medium-sized broccoli, chopped
1/2 red onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt
Black Pepper
1 to 2 tbsp of oyster/soy sauce
2 tbsp of cooking cream

  • In a pan, pour a tbsp of cooking oil and a tbsp of butter to cook your mushrooms until limp and brown; set aside once done
  • Going back to the pan, pour another tbsp of cooking oil to cook your onion and garlic until it turns translucent and fragrance wafts off
  • Add the beef strips and stir around until it browns and half-cooked; Do not forget to season it with salt and pepper
  • Add the chopped broccoli and some water to cook it in steam
  • Once cooked, add your oyster/soy sauce and cooking cream and mix for a few minutes; adjust the taste with salt and/or pepper according to your liking
  • Lastly, add your green bell peppers and let everything cook together; you might also want to add some kick to it with some chili flakes
  • To serve, scoop the mixture into a plate beside a steaming bowl of red rice

Chicken Adobo

(My chicken adobo recipe is a Filipino classic. Albeit I would’ve used other fancy ingredients such as Star Anise and chicken livers to give the flavor some edge but I tried to make it as easy and traditional as possible for you. The cheat to this recipe is the garlic. And yes, I’m not kidding about the whole bulb of it.)

Whole chicken, chopped
1 whole bulb of garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
Filipino soy sauce
White vinegar
2 tbsp white/brown sugar
Black peppercorns
2 pcs Dried bay leaf
2 medium-sized potato, cubed
Chili powder/red chili

  • In a pan, sear the chicken pieces in 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil until it turns a brownish color on the outside to bring out the flavor of the meat; set aside once done
  • Using the same oil with rendered chicken fat, saute the onions and garlic until it turns translucent
  • Add back in the chicken and mix while adding enough soy sauce to stain all the chicken; follow it up with 2 tbsp of white vinegar and 1/2L of water 
  • Add in the black peppercorns, bay leaf, sugar and chili powder and let the mixture sit and thicken up for about 10-15 minutes in medium heat; do not forget to cover your sauce pan to retain the moisture in the chicken
  • Adjust the taste as needed with the ingredients mentioned
  • Once done, serve on a deep dish; eat it paired with steaming bowl of red rice

Week 3

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Swedish-inspired meatballs and mashed potatoes

(Week 3 food was fun for me. I planned for a Charlie Chan hack but it didn’t work but my Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes were a hit.)

For meatballs:
1/2 kilo ground/minced beef
About 2 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
Salt
Black pepper
1/2 red onions, diced small
5 cloves garlic, minced
A handful of chopped cilantro

  • On a bowl, mix all ingredients and mash together until all are incorporated
  • Pop inside the freezer for a good 5 minutes or less before forming into balls so it firms up and becomes a bit easier to mold
  • To form, put in enough mixture on one hand and roll clockwise with another until it forms your desired meatball size
  • In a pan, put one to two tbsps of cooking oil and 1/2 tbsp of butter enough to cover the bottom of the pan
  • Slowly put the meatball one by one in clockwise order; avoid crowding the pan so you can prevent it from burning and sticking to one another
  • Flip the meatball once one side turns nice and brown; it takes about 10 minutes or more to completely cook the meat, depending on the size you made
  • To finish it off and give it a nice flavor, cook all of the meatballs in a mixture of 2 tbsp oyster sauce and 1 tbsp soy sauce

For mashed potato:
3 medium-sized potatoes
1/2 stick of 60g Almarai unsalted butter
250ml Almarai Full fat milk
Salt
Powder
Paprika

  • Peel, cut into cubes and boil in salted water the potatoes until it becomes tender and completely penetrable by a fork
  • Drain the water from the pan and let the potatoes cool down for at least 30 seconds but don’t wait till it gets cold to work on
  • With a fork or with a potato masher, start working your way with mashing the potatoes until no lumps are left
  • On low heat, put back the pan on the stove to incorporate the 1/2 stick of butter and 250ml of milk into the mashed boiled potatoes, whipping in a little bit of air so it becomes soft and creamy
  • Do not forget to season it with salt and pepper and/or paprika (optional)!
  • Serve it on a plate beside the meatballs and a nice scoop of your favorite jam
  • Another option thing is to add buttered mushrooms as a side as well

Week 3

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Pasta in white cream sauce

(Like my Cheat Spaghetti, this baby is a winner and both are actually stolen recipes from my sister. After I learned to cook this recipe this way, I’ve never cooked it any other way.)

1 pack of smoked streaky bacon
1 pack of brown mushrooms
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 red onions, diced
1 tbsp Almarai unsalted butter
1/2L Paysan Breton cooking cream in 36% fat
250ml Almarai Whole Fat Milk
Salt
Pepper
Kashmiri chili
Mozzarella cheese

  • While preparing the mushrooms, onions and garlic, start rendering the fat in the smoked streaky bacon by cutting it into bite sized pieces and putting it in a pan. Add only enough oil to cover the surface of the fan so it doesn’t stick, but let it cook with its own fat
  • You can also start cooking your pasta at this point according to package instructions;  Do not forget to salt your water and to drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil after draining
  • With the rendered bacon fat, melt one tablespoon of butter to cook the brown mushrooms until it limps and shrinks
  • Add in the garlic and onions and mix until both becomes incorporated to one another
  • Pour 1/2L of 36% fat cooking cream and half a bottle of whole fat milk to start cooking up your sauce
  • Add salt, pepper and chili to taste
  • Let it sit for a couple of minutes until it thickens according to your preference
  • Sprinkle some mozzarella cheese into the mix, if you’d like
  • To serve, twirl a big forkful of pasta into a plate and create a small mountain or triangular shaped pile; Scoop and drizzle the sauce on top and do not forget to add the mushrooms and bacon on the top

Chili con Carne

(I first experimenting with Chili con Carne when I was living with my parents in Saudi Arabia after watching the recipe episode from Laura Vitale. After that, I’ve been obsessed with it as it is a perfect, heart-warming recipe especially during colder seasons. This one’s ingredients are not as fancy and on-the-dot as Laura’s but it’s still a stellar and fool-proof recipe.)

1/2kg of minced beef
1/2 red onions, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 small tin of tomato paste
2 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Kashmiri chili powder
Salt
Pepper
Water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 squares of Lindt 70% cocoa, dark chocolate

  • With just a tablespoon of cooking oil, start browning the minced meat into a sauce pan; Do not fret if the fat starts to separate from the lean meat, the goal is to brown it and flavor it
  • Sprinkle the 2 tsp of Kashmiri chili powder (can be adjusted based on your spice preference) and 2 tsp of Cumin; Add salt and pepper as well to taste.
  • Once it is halfway dry, add the chopped onions and garlic to the pan and mix
  • After a few minutes, add the canned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste then pour in some water to simmer your sauce
  • This is the part where you try to balance the sourness of the tomatoes; You can add sugar or brown sugar, some chocolate squares, oregano and paprika as well to counteract the taste and balance the flavor and acidity
  • Let it sit for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens according to your liking
  • To serve, scoop a ladle-full in a bowl and either sprinkle some mozzarella cheese, put a dollop of sour cream and chopped chives, or with cut up ripe avocados.

I hope you’ll enjoy this recipes as much as I did. If you have any suggestions or recipes you’re curious for me to make a version of, drop it in the comments box below 🙂

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