meal planning

My impending GRE subject test has turned me into a few things. For one, I’ve become something of a recluse. Each workday finds me heading straight home, where I affix myself to my desk reading textbooks and watching online lectures.*

This whole ordeal has tapped into my neurotic planning side as well. In high school, I used to prepare for my exams by plotting out my studying schedule down to the hour. The thought makes me a bit sad, since I realize now that high school was so inconsequential and that I should’ve spent more time having fun… but I digress. Old habits die hard, and I’ve been trying to streamline my agenda by meal-prepping for the week. I get to eat well (yay!) and spend more time studying every day (nay). It balances out nicely.

Last week, Jay and I successfully made several batches of readymade meals. It took less than three hours of dedicated Sunday night cooking to provide us with lunch and dinner the rest of the week. Not too shabby.

Jo Mama’s World Famous Spaghetti. Let me just say now that this is crazy delicious and neither of us can even dream of taking any credit. A few years ago, when I was a culinarily inept college student, I searched the world wide web for “best spaghetti recipe” and clicked on the first result. Google didn’t let me down; this stuff is as amazing as the name. A cinch to make, the recipe also yields a sizable amount of food — perfect for freezing. (8 servings)

Japanese curry with beef. The Japanese curry was also incredibly easy to prepare, mostly because we bought pre-made S&B Golden Curry cubes. It’s foolproof: sautée onions and choice of meat (we picked extra lean ground beef), add veggies (zucchini and carrots, in our case) and throw in the curry until it all melds together in a deliciously savory stew. (6 servings)

Chickpea salad (pictured in lead photo). I also wanted to prep my daily work lunches ahead of time, and a bean salad seemed sturdy enough to hold up in the fridge throughout the week. I chopped up three bell peppers and two tablespoons parsley, drained a can of sweet corn and two cans of chickpeas, and mixed ’em all together. The salad stored beautifully. I had initially been planning on adding some kind of vinaigrette, but it turned out I liked the salad plain — though I can’t imagine that a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice would hurt. (5 servings)

On a tip from Serious Eats, we stored all our single servings in reusable freezable deli containers. I’d highly recommend these Reditainers from Amazon, which are insanely cheap (less than a fifty cents a pop), stack neatly, and are BPA-free and freezer-friendly.

After our cooking session, Jay and I took a step back to admire our handiwork: a dozen or so portions of meals. Excellent.

* This new trend of offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for free is absolutely amazing. I’ve been essentially taking a legitimate university class through Open Yale Courses, though sites like Coursera also have tons of offerings from other accredited institutions. Brain food!

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