Pantry Raid: Spinach-Tomato Alfredo with Rotini

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I came home hungry from work one day and was too lazy to make something from scratch. It happens, right? Rather than resulting to take-out, I peeked around in my pantry and freezer for pasta, a jarred sauce, cheese, and some veggies to make this tasty Alfredo pasta dish in about a half-hour or less.

Here’s how I make it. To make things easy, it starts with a good, jarred pasta sauce.

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The 3 Must-Have Kitchen Tools for Meal Prepping

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Earlier this week, I offered tips for how to make the process of meal prepping more enjoyable. My meal prep wouldn’t be successful if not for a few key supplies that are versatile and inexpensive enough to be in everyone’s kitchen.

For a small investment in just three tools, you’ll be able to neatly weigh, pack, and organize your food for stress-free eating when your schedule gets busy. Here’s what they are.

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Pantry Raid: Make-and-Freeze Stir-fry Meals

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Take-out is expensive and not really that great for you. Fortunately, it is really easy to make at home — especially with frozen ingredients that you can assemble, portion, and freeze ahead of time.

For the past few years I’ve made these make-and-freeze bagged meals. These are similar to ones that you can buy in the frozen section at the store, but customizable with the quantities and ingredients that you want to include. They’re also cheaper and healthier, in many cases, since you know exactly what you’re putting into them and can add the sauce later to your taste.

My two favorite meals to make are veggie stir-fry with soy chicken (or “fake chicken,” as my family likes to call it) and shrimp with broccoli. I combine all of the ingredients, sans sauce, in a bowl and use a cup measure to portion into quart- or gallon-sized freezer bags, mark with the number of servings, and pop in the freezer. They’re very simple to assemble, and even quicker to heat up and serve. Here’s how I make them.

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The 3 Key Things You Need to Know About Meal Prepping

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A year ago I took on a project that had me waking up early and commuting back-and-forth to Philly for work each day. On most days, I didn’t mind the drive; it was a nice change in routine that gave me plenty of time to catch up on a few podcasts as well as episodes of Howard Stern.

Re-establishing good habits, like taking time on the weekends to plan meals and outfits for the upcoming week, made my life a lot easier. One of my biggest challenges — the scramble to figure out what to put together for dinner at the end of the day, or saying screw it and stopping to eat at a restaurant on the way home — was eliminated, thanks to advance meal prep and big-batch cooking on the weekends.

There are a lot of meal prep resources and recipes available out there, but the three best tips that I can offer –those that were tried, tested, and successful for me — are these.

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Meal Prep Week Challenge to Eat Better

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For the past 8 years, the passing of the Labor Day weekend was a sign that the start of the fall semester was just a few days away. It was time to order my books, get my things together, and get back into the swing of commuting to class a few nights each week. Since I always made it home late on school nights, close to midnight at times, the start of school, unfortunately, also marked the start of eating poorly again.

Packing snacks from home was easy and something I’d aim to do (I’d try to keep granola bars and non-perishable things in my car), but packing dinner wasn’t usually worth the effort. It was a challenge to keep it cold in a lunch box on my drive there, then find a place to heat it up before class. As a result, I’d often stop for take-out and have a “car picnic” or eat at a restaurant, just to make things easy.

Fortunately, I graduated with my MBA in May and can finally have more time to myself, without worrying about papers to write or classes to attend after work. Feeling rushed during the weeknight to come home and make dinner at a reasonable hour? That challenge won’t be going away any time soon, though.

In challenging myself and my family to eat healthier, this week I’m dedicating posts to meal prepping and quick meals that can be made ahead to make weeknight dinners a little easier.

Got a suggestion for something you’d like to see featured? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment below. 

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