Batch Cook Archives | Stephanie Dreyer

Batch Cook

November 11, 2019
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Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Plannng

As the solo vegan in my household, I know a thing or two about introducing your family to a plant-based diet! Whether you’re looking to incorporate a few vegan meals into your family’s weekly menu or go plant-based all the way together, a plan is essential if you’re going to be successful—and enjoy the journey. (Going vegan on Sunday and then declaring the rest of the family must follow on Monday isn’t going to work—trust me, I tried!)

This Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning is my heart and soul! It’s what I wish I had when I went vegan and brought my family along for the ride 10 years ago and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. It’s the go-to checklist I wish existed when I was struggling to plan healthy, whole foods meals for three kids while juggling work, life…well, everything! I needed a step-by-step plan to teach me how to meal plan to save time and stop being a short order cook. I needed someone to share their favorite tips, products and brands. I needed meal ideas and recipes that my whole family would eat.

This is it, friends! I hope the Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning will answer all your questions to make your plant-based meal planning dreams come true!  

Download it for free (my gift to you!) and receive:

  • A step-by-step guide to introducing your family to plant-based foods
  • A meal planning 101 checklist
  • Fun worksheets
  • A blank meal planning template to plan family menus week after week
  • Plant-based food essentials
  • A list of my favorite meal prep tools and containers
  • 13 meal ideas and 10 recipes

Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning

Before I created a meal planning process, mealtimes were stressful and tiresome. I struggled A LOT. Now (with the process I outline in this guide), I look forward to dinner prep, enjoy my Sunday batch cooking sessions, and prepare breakfast and lunches quickly and easily without breaking a sweat. Download your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning and start experiencing the magic of meal planning just like me!

Ultimate Guide to Plant-based Meal Planning


October 28, 2019
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I’ve shared batch cooking tips and ideas before, but today I want to focus specifically on plant-based snack ideas that you can prep ahead on the weekend and eat all week long. If you’re not incorporating a couple of snacks into your batch sessions, you’ll find that adding 2 or 3 into your plan can make a huge difference in the amount of packaged snacks you purchase at the store.

These plant-based snack ideas are healthy and delicious, and they are also versatile for snacking on the go, packing in school lunches or changing up a dozen different ways with different spice blends and ingredients.

1. Seasoned Nuts

DIY your favorite nut with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite seasoning blend. Spread out on a baking sheet at roast at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Some of my favorite sprinkles are: Everything Bagel Seasoning (Trader Joe’s) and a blend of cumin, sea salt and chili powder.

2. Snack / Trail Mixes

My Savory Snack Mix goes so fast in my house that I usually fill up two baking sheets with this mix to last us the whole week!

3. Frozen Grapes

It doesn’t get much simpler than this! Just wash, dry and freeze your grapes in a freezer-safe container. Then, take out a bunch when you’re ready to enjoy them. This is a favorite snack of my son, Jake, who especially likes to eat them on hot afternoons after school.

4. Hummus

In my opinion, hummus and vegetable sticks is one of the quintessential plant-based snack ideas that you can eat. Homemade hummus is simple to make in under 5 minutes, and you can change it up by just adding a few ingredients to play with the flavors: lemon juice, roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives, or sun-dried tomatoes, to name a few!

5. Muffins

Whether I’m veganizing a box mix from Trader Joe’s to make these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins or batching something from scratch, muffins are made for batch cooking!

6. Energy Balls

This plant-based snack is portable and easy to adapt to whatever your family likes. They are a great alternative to the packaged protein bars you buy at the store and much healthier too.

7. Roasted Chickpeas

Use the same method you would for the seasoned nuts above but swap in chickpeas for a protein alternative. You can buy these at the store in a variety of flavors but they’re so much better when they’re homemade.

Change up your snack game with one of these 5 delicious ways to eat popcorn. From Popcorn Bark to Cracker Jacks, these aren't your regular bowl of kernels.

8. Seasoned Popcorn

We LOVE popcorn in my house. We make a pot at least 3 times a week so it saves time to batch a big pot once and portion it out throughout the week. If we’re feeling fancy, we’ll sprinkle on one of my homemade seasoning blends (taco seasoning + sea salt + nutritional yeast) or crush homemade Cheesy Kale chips over a batch.

9. Fruit and Vegetable Chips

If you have access to an air fryer, these are simple to make. Some of my favorite produce go-to’s: Bananas, apples, kale and rainbow carrots.

10. Fruit Leathers

Ditch the fruit roll ups and make homemade fruit leathers instead with a dehydrator. Just peel, thinly slice and let the air fryer do the work. My favorite is mango!

Are you interested in more batch cooking tips and tricks? Check out my Ultimate Guide To Batch Cooking and download my free Batch Cooking Starter Guide below.

Which of the ideas above is your favorite? I’d love to hear your snack ideas too! Share them below.

Plant-based snack ideas


September 17, 2019
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Tips and Ideas for Meal Planning & Prepping Lunch

It’s back-to-school…and I’m back to planning and prepping lunches for my kids. My girls have given me a slight reprieve as my teens have taken over their lunch packing. (However, I can’t let go just yet so I’m still prepping a few things on my Batch Cook Sundays so they have several healthy options to pack.)

Meal planning and prepping lunch isn’t just something I do during the the school year. I plan and prep my lunches all year long. I find I eat healthier and it frees up a lot of time during the middle of the day when I usually have to force myself to take a break to eat because I’m so busy. Can you relate?

My latest video shares 8 tips for planning and prepping lunch with ease, including:

1. Meal plan!

2. Pick 2-3 meal ideas to rotate throughout the week (and keep a running list to reference again and again).

3. Batch cook a few things on the weekend.

4. Mix up the ordinary.

 

Get the rest of my tips in the video below, where I also do some “show and tell” with some of my favorite meal prep and lunch containers…but first, meal ideas!

Wraps

Tortilla, collard green, lettuce leaf, lavash or nori…so many options for wrapping for lunch. Try my Tofu Lettuce Wraps or Black Bean & Corn Romaine “Tacos”.

Pizza Rolls

The pizza rolls are a family favorite in my house and in the lunch rotation at least twice a month!

Pasta and Pasta Salads

Some of my favorites in this category are Easy Vegan Pesto Pasta Salad, Italian Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad, Kale Harvest Grains Salad, or Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad.

Sushi Rolls

My kids love vegetable sushi rolls. They customize theirs with the vegetables they like (carrots for Alex, cucumbers and carrots for Jake and cucumbers for Gaby!), along with baked tofu and avocado.

Bowls

These are so simple and can be batched easily on the weekend: Marinated protein, roasted vegetables, greens, grains and a yummy dressing. Try my Green Goddess Zucchini Bowl or Butternut Squash and Fall Lentil Bowl, Italian Roasted Vegetable Bowl with Creamy Italian Dressing, or Carrot Noodle Bowl

Salads

Simple and easy, this is my go-to option for lunch. Try one of these: Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad, Chopped Asparagus Chickpea Salad, or my personal favorite: Cruciferous Crunch Salad with Tangy Tahini Dressing,

Kebabs

Super fun to eat and stackable a zillion different ways.

Hummus and veg sticks

Deconstructed sandwiches (aka “Lunchables”)

What did I miss? Share some of your favorite lunch meals below!

 


August 26, 2019
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My Favorite Trader Joe's No Cook Meals

My girls start school this week and my son is back next Thursday so it’s back to the dinner rush in between carpools and activities! You know I’m all about a meal plan and my Batch Cook Sundays, which take me a long way in simplifying dinner time and getting meals on the table in 30-45 minutes, but there are still those days where even that planning and prep won’t cut it.

The first few weeks back to school are bananas in my house! So many BTS nights and meetings…and it seems like everything happens on the same one or two nights in the week. On evenings like those, I turn to Trader Joe’s (my favorite store) for help and I pull out of one my favorite no cook meals to get dinner on the table.

Some of my favorite no cook meals tips:

Salads in a bag are my best friend. You can change these up a dozen different ways into more than just salads. (Watch my recent FB Live on this topic with tons of recipe ideas).

Sauces and dips make for easy meals. (This FB Live video offers several meal ideas with my favorites.)

Canned beans are a quick and easy protein add, plus they add texture and heartiness to any meal.

Pre-washed and cut veggies save time and are worth the extra cost if you’re only using them every once in a while.

In my latest video, I show you 3 of my favorite no cook meals utilizing some of my favorite Trader Joe’s products. I’ve listed them all below, along with a few others. 

Taco Salad Bowl

This bowl is quick and easy using Trader Joe’s Southwest Chopped Salad:

Combine the salad kit (omit the cheese and / or replace with a dairy-free alternative) and a can of pinto or black beans, drained. Crush 4-5 tortilla chips in a bowl and and scoop a portion of the salad over the chips.

Top with your favorite salsa and chopped avocado or guacamole. 

Snack Board

You’ve got a lot of options here and none of them take more than 10-15 minutes to throw together. Choose from one of the many ideas I’ve put together here.

 

Mediterranean Pita Pockets

It’s Greek night with this mezze platter:

Set out Trader Joe’s Balela and Tabbouleh in bowls. Serve alongside sliced pita bread, Trader Joe’s stuffed grape leaves, olives, cucumbers, hummus and garlic sauce for everyone to make their own pocket. 

 

Baked Tofu Lettuce Wraps

This is another easy dinner that makes the most of a Trader Joe’s salad kit:

Cut one package of Trader Joe’s Savory Baked Tofu into bite-sized cubes. Prepare one of Trader Joe’s Asian salad kits (they have a few to choose from). Spread out several romaine leaves on a platter. Fill the leaves with the salad and top with the tofu. Serve with lime wedges.

Spiralized Noodles with Bruschetta and Olive Tapenade

 

Keep it fresh with extra veg power with this no cook swap for spaghetti:

Spiralize yellow squash or zucchini (or buy pre-prepared from the store). Toss with Trader Joe’s Bruschetta and Olive Tapenade. Stir in cannelinni beans. Serve alongside a simple dinner salad and sliced bread.

 

Watch the video below for a DIY of the first 3 recipes above:


August 19, 2019
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Summer Meals

Summer is more laidback and unscheduled in my household, as I’m not shuttling the kids around as much and activities are significantly reduced. My kids are also less stressed (no homework or tests!) which means I’m less stressed.  Bedtimes also tend to be later as no one has to be up super early.

As a result, my time in the kitchen tends to be more relaxed, as I flit between enjoying the outdoors and other summer fun. It’s no surprise that summer meals tend to be some of my favorites. As I savor the last few days of the season with my kids, I want to make my time in the kitchen count and minimize my time there so I can spend more time with them outside having fun!

In my latest video, I share some easy summer meals that not only minimize the time in the kitchen, but also take advantage of the bounty of my favorite summer foods (tomatoes, anyone?!!). Plus, you’ll find that all of the recipes in this video are great for eating outdoors, taking on picnics, or packing for the beach or wherever the summer fun takes you!

Check out these easy summer meals:

Wraps

  • They’re versatile! Use a lettuce wrap, flatbread, tortilla or nori sheet.
  • Easily change up your fillings a dozen different ways with some help from the store, using store-bought spreads and dips.

Pasta Salads

  • This is an easy meal pleaser. Who doesn’t love pasta?!
  • Pick your favorite noodle, add in a bean or legume and your favorite veggies.
  • Toss with your favorite salad dressing.

Kebabs:

  • Prep these the night before.
  • Cube tofu, tempeh, seitan or veggies (mushrooms and cauliflower are my favorites).
  • Place protein or vegetables in a sealable container and add your favorite store-bought salad dressing. Marinate at least two hours or overnight.
  • Skewer when ready to grill! (Pairs well with pasta salad.)

Watch the video below for all the recipes:


April 18, 2019
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Batch Cooking Starter Guide

Do you need help with meal prep? Batch cooking saves you hours in prep and cooking time during the week. As a busy, working mama, batch prep makes my time in the kitchen more efficient during the week, allowing me to get dinner on the table quicker and with less effort, lunches packed in less time and breakfast served with almost no cooking involved. 

Batch cooking means preparing food in large quantities over the period of two to three hours (usually on the weekend) to eat later in the week. It also includes cooking a series of ingredients or recipes ahead of time and storing for later.  

In a perfect batch cooking world, you would meal plan and prepare your grocery list together once during the week (for example, on Thursday), grocery shop once on another day (for example, Friday) and reserve time on Saturday or Sunday to batch cook several things for the week.  

The foods you decide to batch cook depend upon what’s in your your weekly menu. Prep dressings, sauces, veggies, snacks and grains ahead of time to make packing lunch boxes and preparing dinners streamlined and effortless.  

Get started with batch cooking with my free Batch Cooking Starter Guide that includes:

  • What to batch cook
  • How to get started
  • Stocking your pantry
  • A one-week batch cooking plan
  • Eight plant-based, family recipes

Before batch cooking, I was overwhelmed and frustrated in the kitchen. I love to cook but all the joy was being sucked out by the demands to satisfy my family’s various preferences and the time constraints of a busy mom life. After I discovered and fine tuned my meal planning process and prioritized batch cooking, my mealtimes became fun and happy again. The joy and creativity I used to experience in the kitchen came back too! I know if batch cooking can bring more ease to my life, it can to yours too.

For more help learning how and what to batch cook, check out the video below that shares:

  • A list of foods to batch cook every week and why
  • Stock your pantry checklist
  • 4 steps to get you started batch cooking 
  • 5 batch cook recipes and an accompanying meal plan with 3 more recipes that use those batch cook recipes

And don’t forget to download a free copy of my Batch Cooking Starter Guide here.

batch cooking


November 8, 2018
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My weekly meal planning success is dependent upon batch cooking. I couldn’t get school lunches made or dinner on the table every night without my Sunday sessions. There’s no feeling like the one after 2 hours in the kitchen when the dishes are cleaned up and stacks of food are packed and stored away for the week.

One of my favorite strategies during these lifesaving Sundays is to batch cook one ingredient and then use it in a variety of ways. I typically make a pan of roasted veggies and some kind of sauce or dressing for easy vegan bowls to eat all week long. I’ve recently been inspired by butternut squash. I’m obsessed, actually!

I roasted it with garlic, cremini mushrooms and Italian herbs for a sweet and savory delight!

Batch cook butternut squash and cremini mushrooms and use them all week long in these 3 delicious meals perfect for the Fall season.

But, don’t stop there! Take those roasted veggies and turn them into 3 different meals. That’s right, cook once and eat 3 times!! Even better, roast some extra squash and get a bonus sauce. That’s 4 recipes:

Roasted Garlic + Butternut Squash Cream Sauce

Butternut Squash + Lentil Fall Bowl

Black Bean, Butternut Squash + Mushroom Enchiladas

Spinach, Mushroom + Butternut Squash Fajitas

First things, first: Roast your veggies.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Cremini Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash (about 6 cups) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 16 ounces cremini mushrooms cleaned, stems removed and quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (basil, thyme and oregano)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Toss the squash, mushrooms and garlic with the olive oil and herbs.

  2. Split onto two baking sheets.

  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the squash is fork tender.

Next, make your sauce:

Butternut Squash Cream Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butternut squash 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cashews soaked overnight if not using a high speed blender
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butternut squash
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Roast the squash and garlic at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

  2. Combine the roasted squash and garlic cloves in a blender, along with the broth and remaining ingredients. 

  3. Blend until smooth.

  4. Season with salt and pepper.

This sauce is savory and sweet all in one. I think it would taste amazing tossed over fresh pasta or baked between lasagna noodles and more butternut squash! But I’ve got more recipe ideas for you!

First up is my Butternut Squash & Lentil Fall Bowl. I’ve been lunching on this all month! The creamy butternut squash sauce is the perfect “dressing” for this scrumptious bowl.

Batch cook butternut squash and cremini mushrooms and use them all week long in these 3 delicious meals perfect for the Fall season.

 

Second on the list are these hearty Black Bean + Butternut Squash Enchiladas. I could eat the filling on its own but nestled between layers of corn tortillas and sauce, it’s indulgent.

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 2 15 ounce cans black beans
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • 6 cups Roasted Butternut Squash + Cremini Mushrooms

For the enchiladas:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups Butternut Squash Cream Sauce
  • 1 bottle / can enchilada sauce

Instructions

  1. Pour the beans (do not drain) and seasonings in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt.

  2. Stir in the Roasted Butternut Squash + Cremini Mushrooms.

  3. Mix 1/4 cup of Butternut Squash Cream Sauce wit 1/4 cup enchilada sauce. 

  4. Spread 2 tablespoons of the sauce on the bottom of a 9-13-inch casserole dish.

  5. Heat the tortillas on the stove burner for 15 seconds or so on each side until pliable. 

  6. Fill each tortilla with about 2 tablespoons of filling. Roll the tortilla away from you and layer in the dish. Continue until all 12 tortillas

  7. When all tortillas are full, top with the remaining sauce and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until heated through.

Batch cook butternut squash and cremini mushrooms and use them all week long in these 3 delicious meals perfect for the Fall season.

Last but not least are these Butternut Squash, Spinach & Mushroom Fajitas. I used the Butternut Squash Cream Sauce like a crema dolloped on top. I used mini tortillas which are fun for small hands (my kids love it when I serve them).

Butternut Squash, Spinach & Mushroom Fajitas (with Butternut Squash Crema)

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups Roasted Butternut Squash & Cremini Mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Butternut Squash Cream Sauce
  • 12 mini corn tortillas (or 6 regular size)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan and add in garlic. Cook 2 minutes until fragrant.

  2. Add spinach. Using tongs, saute the spinach until slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Stir in the roasted vegetables and cook for 4-5 minutes until heated through.

  4. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas on a stove burner, about 30 seconds on each side until the tortilla is pliable.

  5. To serve, spoon the filling onto the middle of the tortillas and top with a dollop of the cream sauce.

Batch cook butternut squash and cremini mushrooms and use them all week long in these 3 delicious meals perfect for the Fall season.

Which recipe will you try first?


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