Prep Cook: Chilli Garlic Tofu Bowls And Black Bean Soup

Prep Cook: Chilli Garlic Tofu Bowls And Black Bean Soup

Embracing home cooking is one of the best ways to save money while eating healthier, but planning your meals can be a bit of a pain. That’s where we come in. Welcome to Prep Cook, where we plan a week’s worth of meals, test them out, and tell you which ones are worth your time and money. This week features chilli garlic tofu bowls, slow cooker black bean soup, and Thai crunch salad.

Everyone has a different schedule (and different tastes), so the week’s menu is organised by meal rather than day. I’ve ordered them to provide variety throughout the week, but you can skip meals that don’t sound good to you or switch them around based on how much time you have to cook when you get home (slow cooker dishes are great for days when you want to eat as soon as you walk in the door). If you really want to get ahead, set aside two to four hours on the weekend to prep ingredients for the week (cut produce, mix up sauces that will last, mass cook items you can freeze, and so on).


Prep Cook: Chilli Garlic Tofu Bowls And Black Bean Soup

Granola and yogurt

Prep Difficulty: Easy

Boost it: Toss in fresh berries or sliced apples. Keep some crunch in your granola by buying one that comes in clusters, so the middle stays dry even as the outside starts to soften.

Toast with your favourite topping

Prep Difficulty: Easy

Boost it: Get really, really good bread. You know what I’m talking about, a loaf from a local bakery that has a perfect, crunchy crust and fluffy inside. Pre-slice and freeze your bread to keep it from going stale quickly.

Add meat: Go for a savoury breakfast and top your toast with hummus sprinkled with bits of bacon.

Special notes: Personally, I opt for filling toppings like a mountain of avocado or crunchy peanut butter.

Frozen oatmeal with nuts and dried fruit

Prep Difficulty: Medium

Boost it: Drizzle yogurt or milk over the oatmeal when you reheat it to eat for a richer dish.

Special notes: Since you make a muffin tin full of these at once, you can prep this on the weekend and have breakfast for the whole week. Great for throwing in your bag if you tend to eat breakfast at work.

Whole wheat flax blueberry pancakes

Prep Difficulty: Easy

Boost it: Top with homemade whipped cream, fancy maple syrup, or stuff your favourite jam between the layers of pancakes.

Special notes: Skip the zucchini. It made my version too watery and didn’t add to the texture or taste of the pancakes. You can make a batch of these ahead of time and freeze them, then reheat in the toaster oven during the week. Or save this as a decadent weekend breakfast.

Lunch & Dinner

Prep Cook: Chilli Garlic Tofu Bowls And Black Bean Soup

Slow cooker black bean soup

Prep Difficulty: Easy

Boost it: Top with sour cream (I used yoghurt because I didn’t have sour cream) or salsa. Whip up garlic bread, a quesadilla, or a side salad to make this a bigger meal.

Add meat: Mix in sliced sausage or minced beef after you’ve run the soup through the blender.

Special notes: You need a blender of some sort to finish off this soup. I used an immersion blender, but you can also use a normal blender and go in batches. My soup turned out really thick, almost a dip, so you may need to add more water or broth after you’ve blended.

Pack it for lunch: Throw in half an avocado, sliced tomato or fresh herbs to liven up your lunch version of this filling soup.

Chilli garlic tofu bowls

Prep Difficulty: Hard

Boost it: Make your sauce extra spicy with La Yu chilli oil (here’s one on My Asian Grocer), or add a fried egg on top of your bowl.

Add meat: Swap the tofu for a baked or pan fried chicken breast, sliced and covered in sauce.

Special notes: Get your tofu super crispy by pressing it for as long as possible (to remove water) and only flipping it once in the pan. Leaving it alone helps a crunchy crust form on each side, yum!

Pack it for lunch: Keep the rice separate from the other stuff so that it doesn’t get soggy from the sauce.

Roasted cauliflower salad with tahini dressing

Prep Difficulty: Medium

Boost it: Let the cauliflower roast as long as possible and throw the chickpeas into the oven rather than a pan to get them super crispy.

Add meat: Shredded chicken seasoned with just salt and pepper would mix in well with this salad.

Pack it for lunch: The chickpeas won’t be crispy the next day, so skip adding those to your lunch.

Creamy polenta with tempeh and tomatoes

Prep Difficulty: Medium

Boost it: Slip a little balsamic vinegar in the tomato sauce for added depth.

Add meat: Swap the tempeh for ground sausage or beef.

Special notes: Instead of making the polenta from scratch, I just rehydrated already cooked polenta with a mix of broth and milk.

Pack it for lunch: Everything can go in one container so the flavours mix together overnight to be even more delicious.

Slow cooker coconut curry lentils

Prep Difficulty: Easy

Boost it: Toast up some naan to dip in your lentils if you want to skip the rice.

Add meat: Pan fry chicken or a white fish to top your bowl of lentils and rice.

Pack it for lunch: Keep the rice and lentils separate so the rice doesn’t get soggy. And maybe skip the raw red onion on top — your coworkers will be thankful.

Smashed chickpea, avocado and pesto sandwich with crispy garlic potatoes

Prep Difficulty: Medium

Boost it: Sprinkle other spices into the sandwich mix, like a little flavoured salt or hot sauce to liven things up.

Add meat: Swap the chickpeas for canned tuna or shredded chicken.

Special notes: Mash the chickpeas as much as you can otherwise you’ll end up with whole chickpeas, which aren’t as nice texture-wise.

Pack it for lunch: Pack the filling and bread for the sandwich separately and assemble at work to keep your bread dry.

Thai crunch salad with peanut dressing

Prep Difficulty: Medium

Boost it: Amp up the flavour in the sauce by adding a little more of what you like, more garlic, corriander or rice vinegar. Swap some of the veggie oil for chilli or sesame. Fry up some crispy tofu (use the same technique as you did for the chilli garlic bowls).

Add meat: Cubed chicken is an easy mix-in with this salad.

Pack it for lunch: No special packing needed, just scoop it into a container and go!

Share your own tips and tricks in the discussion below as you try these recipes out.

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