when i was a child, there were a few culinary things that really signified “adulthood” to me. one was having a fully stocked wet bar in your living room, or at least a bottle of gin (due to the amount of 70’s and 80’s british comedies i watched). a little more reasonable was to keep a six-pack of beer brewed in pennsylvania to be drunk from green bottles. now that i am old enough to be an adult and have experienced both a stock of gin and pennsylvanian beer, i have not yet felt quite so “grown up” as when i realized that i needed to make proper and thorough weekly meal plans for myself and K. with shifting work schedules, graduate school classes and shrinking weekends, i found that i needed to make a significant change in my approach to cooking or else we would be forced to spend more money eating out, especially for lunch. also, as we have increased the amount of our fitness activities, it was becoming more important to make sure that we had access to the right kind of snacks when we needed them or else hunger would ruin our day.
up until now, our lunches were made up of leftovers from the previous day’s dinner. this was a pretty good system, as i was able to spend time each day working on an interesting or new dish and could get creative with it. that time, i realize now, was a real luxury. now, i plan on making two or three dinners throughout the work week and reserving the leftovers for nights where i’ve gotten home too late to spend time cooking. breakfasts are a large smoothie and an english muffin with peanut butter and lunch is an unfortunately trendy “bowl.”
while it is incredibly hip, a lunch made up of a variety of whole foods and fresh vegetables, arranged in a bowl (or tupperware) and drizzled with vinaigrette is a very satisfying, easy, and quite tasty way to make sure you have a good meal every midday. there is no recipe, exactly, and there are a million ways to do this, but here is what i have been up to:
each saturday i roast some sweet potatoes, cook a whole grain like quinoa or spelt berries, prepare some black beans or lentils and make a batch of neutral hummus. then, each morning, i fill up a tupperware with equal parts grain, bean and potato, arrange fresh vegetables like broccoli and kale on top, dollop it with hummus, sprinkle some nuts or seeds on top, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. eaten with a whole grain pita, it seems like a pretty healthy meal. almost as equally important, however, is that it takes almost no time to assemble and has the added benefit of cutting down my grocery bill. my schedule will change again in a couple of months, but i think i will keep this practice as a habit throughout the year.
for those keeping score at home, this week’s bowl was made of:
2/3 c cooked red quinoa
1/3 c roasted sweet potato
1/3 c roasted corn and black bean blend
1/4 c hummus
1/4 c chopped kale
1/4 c chopped broccoli
2 tbl pumpkin seeds
a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar