In a perfect world, you and maybe your spouse dedicate a few hours every Sunday to meal prep. You portion out your proteins, whip up some quinoa, prepare an assortment of delicious greens, and BOOM! Dinner for the week is prepared.
But we live in the real world. In the real world, life happens. You may have kids with their homework, sports and friends. You might have projects around the house or the apartment. You might be on a softball or volleyball team. Your family might even actually want to see you and interrupt your precious meal-prep time. Or perhaps you’re like my wife and I, who enjoy preparing healthy meals but prefer fresh cooking for as many of our dinners as possible rather than living on pre-portioned, prepared rations to carry us through the week.
Enter the almighty bowl, a solution for healthy meals that is simple in its requirements but limitless in its potential. All that’s required is lean ground beef, chicken, or turkey; healthy veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, and peas; brown rice or quinoa, and a little something extra to spice it up. Sometimes we use spicy seasoning on the ground beef. Other times, we mix in a homemade salsa. And these are just a few of the possibilities!
Inspired by Tone It Up’s “Lean & Clean” bowl (a mixture of ground turkey, broccoli, cauliflower, and red sauce) and burrito bowls from Chipotle, these meals offer a higher return on satisfaction for a minimal investment of time and money. Brown rice can cook in bulk in less than an hour on the stovetop. Meanwhile, you can be chopping up veggies to throw in the mix. Ground meat cooks in mere minutes. And suddenly, you have a dinner that is full of flavor and comes together beautifully in any low, wide bowl. A small salad/pasta bowl is the perfect portion for anybody.
On top of that, these bowls are extremely portable, fitting well into most plastic storage bowls. There’s something satisfying in watching your colleagues smell the deliciousness of your meal as you pop the lid off of a heated bowl of meat, veggies, and rice, then pour salsa or guacamole over it and mix it together. Why, the only thing more satisfying might be the tasty lunch you’re about to enjoy as they gaze in envy.
Perhaps the best thing about these meals is the level of customization possible with little to no effort. Prefer a stronger kick? Pour some Sriracha or tabasco sauce on top of everything. Trying to cut carbs? Forget the rice, and double up on veggies. Need a little something extra to make it feel more complete? Shredded cheddar cheese adds color and flavor. Literally any vegetable is compatible. Leftover meats also go well in the bowls, too, so enjoy last night’s grilled pork chops or chicken breast after dicing it up and mixing it in with the other goodness.
At the end of the day, you’re limited only by what you like to eat and your imagination. So go nuts, experiment with some different ingredients, and have fun making healthy, simple meals late in the week when you’re too tired and busy to be fancy.
One of our favorite combinations to get you started:
- One pound package of ground turkey
- Two heads of broccoli florets
- Matchstick carrots
- Brown rice
- A little homemade salsa spread on top