Make it on Sunday and have lunches prepped for the whole week.
It’s common in office culture to go out and purchase a sandwich or salad, but all those restaurant meals really add up—and not just financially. A 2016 study of almost 2,000 adults found that eating out more frequently was linked to a higher body mass index and a reduced intake of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies.
Wanna break your dining-out-for-lunch habit? One way to accomplish that is by meal-prepping, which means cooking in bulk at the start of the week so your meals are ready to go in the morning when you’ve hit snooze one too many times. Meal-prepping helps you eat healthfully, save time, and reduce your food budget, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The meal-prep recipe combines roasted chicken breast, bell peppers, brown jasmine rice, and a homemade Thai peanut sauce. It’s a simple template to follow for meal prep: a protein source, a whole grain, some veggies, and a sauce to tie it all together.
Sure, you can buy Thai peanut sauce in a jar at the store, but there are many advantages to making your own. Store-bought peanut sauce can be sky-high in sodium (from the soy sauce) and sugar. By making your own, you can limit the amount of sugar, and use liquid aminos instead of soy sauce, which is a substitute that is lower in sodium. (Bonus: It’s also a gluten-free swap for soy sauce.)
You can play this recipe to make it right for you. Try quinoa instead of rice, or baked tofu or steamed shrimp instead of chicken. Not tempted by bell peppers? Try roasted broccoli (but be warned that your microwaved broccoli is a despised smell by many office workers.) And as for the peanut sauce, you can swap in a simple lemon-tahini sauce or a North African chermoula sauce.
Adapted from Meals with Maggie.
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp natural peanut butter (peanuts and salt only)
- 1/4 cup liquid aminos
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 20 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 bell peppers
- 1 and 1/4 cup uncooked brown jasmine rice
- 1 tbsp agave
InstructionsIn a medium pot, cook jasmine rice according to package instructions. While the rice is cooking, preheat oven to 450ºF. Cut up bell peppers into thin slices, and cut chicken breast into strips (this reduces the cooking time). Arrange the bell pepper slices on top of the chicken breast strips in a casserole dish. Drizzle oil over peppers and chicken, and then cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. While the chicken and peppers are baking, make the Thai peanut sauce by combining peanut butter, liquid aminos, rice vinegar, agave, and garlic powder in a bowl. Whisk in the water a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Returning to the chicken, remove foil and place back in oven for 5 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. To meal prep, place 1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice and 3-4 ounces of chicken in 5 meal prep containers. Divide peppers evenly. Sauce can be poured in meal prep bowls before or placed in a separate container and poured in at mealtime.
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Basics of meal prepping. Chicago, IL: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2018. (Accessed on July 15, 2019 at https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/basics-of-meal-prepping.)
Seguin RA, Aggarwal A, Vermeylen F, Drewnowski A. Consumption frequency of foods away from home linked with higher body mass index and lower fruit and vegetable intake among adults: a cross-sectional study. J Environ Public Health. 2016.