Cook Once, Eat Healthy All Week: Here's How To ACTUALLY Do It (For Under $35)

I'm all about making my weeknight meals healthy, delicious and quick. While I love a 15-minute meal, some of my favorite vegetables (like winter squash) taste better when you can roast them for a while.

A great way to make sure your weeknight meals are effortless is setting aside an hour or two on a Sunday to cook a few big batches of vegetables and grains that you can transform into different meals throughout the week.

Below I've laid out a game plan to cook once, then put in about 10 minutes worth of effort each night to create different meals Monday through Thursday.

The meals are built using a lot of pantry staples like olive/coconut oil, salt, beans and spices along with a few other fresh garnishes to create unique flavors so you never feel like you're eating leftovers.

The recipes will make approximately 2 servings of each meal, totaling at 8 meals altogether. Feel free to replace the delicata squash with butternut, sweet potato, or your favorite vegetable.

Sunday Prep

Cook-ahead ingredients

  • 4 zucchini
  • 4 bell peppers
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 medium delicata squash
  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper

Fresh ingredients to buy ahead

  • 16 oz. fresh baby spinach
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 avocado
  • salsa or tomatoes
  • hummus
  • harissa (a North African chili paste) or other hot sauce
  • za'atar (a Middle Eastern spice blend) (optional)
  • scallions
  • lemon
  • ginger
  • garlic

1. Heat oven 425 F. Slice zucchini, bell peppers, red onion and delicata squash into even-sized pieces.

2. Coat baking sheets in olive oil and arrange vegetables on baking sheets. Place in the oven to roast (2 baking sheets can go in at a time). Roasting times vary depending on the size of your pieces, but this in how long mine took:

  • Zucchini: 20 minutes
  • Bell Peppers: 20 minutes
  • Delicata squash: 25-30 minutes

3. While vegetables are roasting, bring 2 cups of quinoa and 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Cover and let stand for another 15 minutes.

1. Curried Quinoa Bowls

Cooked ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • a big spoonful of each roasted vegetable per bowl

Added Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated on a microplane
  • 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preparation

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add ginger, curry powder, cumin and turmeric and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Stir in coconut milk, salt and pepper. Add quinoa, and cook for about 2-4 minutes until the coconut milk has absorbed a bit and the quinoa is a golden color. Stir in spinach and allow it to wilt (about 1 minute).

3. Remove from heat and put quinoa into bowls with the roasted vegetables (you can reheat these before adding to the bowl or let the quinoa warm them). Top with cilantro.

2. Mezze Bowls

Cooked ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • a big spoonful of each roasted vegetable per bowl

Added Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup hummus
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 cup chickpeas (if canned, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 teaspoons harissa or other hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon za'atar (optional)
  • fresh cilantro (optional)

Preparation

1. Make the hummus dressing by combining hummus, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

2. Combine chickpeas and harissa in a small bowl. If you want a warm salad, reheat vegetables and chickpeas in a pan and add spinach just long enough to wilt.

3. Arrange quinoa, spinach and roasted vegetables in bowls. Top with chickpeas, hummus dressing and a sprinkling of za'atar and cilantro.

3. Quinoa Stir Fry

Cooked ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • a big spoonful of each roasted vegetable per bowl

Added Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 scallions/green onion finely chopped
  • Pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 fried egg per bowl (optional)

Preparation

1. Heat oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

2. Add cooked quinoa, tamari and peas and stir, cooking for 2 minutes. Add spinach and other roasted vegetables and cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Fry an egg for each bowl, if desired. Fill bowls with fried quinoa and top with scallions, chili flakes and an egg.

4. Fajita Salad Bowls

Cooked ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 big handfuls of baby spinach
  • a big spoonful of each roasted vegetable per bowl

Added Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced red onion (optional)
  • Pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked black beans (if canned, drained and rinsed)
  • Salsa or fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 lime or lemon

Preparation

1. Make guacamole by combining avocado, cilantro, red onion, chili flakes, salt and pepper, smashing with a fork as you go.

2. Arrange quinoa, spinach and roasted vegetables in bowls. Top with black beans, salsa and guacamole and spritz with a little lime or lemon juice.

Photos courtesy of the author

Graphic courtesy of MBG creative

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