What’s in the lunch box? (Week 1)

Hello foodie friends!

As part of my resolution this year, I am trying to be somewhat healthier: exercise and eat smart. For me eating smart means limiting my intake of food from fast food vendors and making my own meals, especially for lunch. This way I can see the ingredients that goes into the dishes that will end up in my body, but as well save money as well!

So I’ve decided to attempt meal prepping weekly and blog all about it – how it’s going, what I’m making, etc.

The meal preppin’ plans is that for the 5 working days in a week, I will make food for the four days and the fifth day I will bring dinner leftovers/ on a week that I have lunch plans, that would be the “cheat day”. Also, I am going to try making two types of meals each week in order for me not to get bored and give up on this whole thing. I will attempt to buy things that I can potentially also freeze and use in a later meal.

So here is the grocery list for this week’s meal prep series:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Penne
  • White button mushrooms (sliced)
  • Hot Italian Sausage (I bought a pack of 5)
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated

Things already in my pantry/fridge:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried Sage
  • Fresh Basil

So for both the chicken dish and the pasta dish I made for my lunch this week, I used wine. I didn’t have time to hit the LCBO, but when I went to Highland Farms to get groceries, I was pleasantly surprised that they have a wine/beer area. All you need is a white wine you can cook with, so I picked up something really cheap (see picture below) and you can grab whichever wine calls out to you. If you don’t want to use wine, the recipes are easily substituted with chicken stock!

Recipes:

Mushroom and Sausage Penne
Ingredients:
– 1 container of sliced button mushrooms
– 3 garlic cloves finely chopped/grated
– 3 hot italian sausages
– 1/2 bag of penne pasta
– Parmesan cheese to your liking
– splash of white wine
– dash of salt and pepper (S&P)
– 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Instructions:
It’s super easy to make! You start with the penne – put the penne in a pot of boiling water to cook. Make sure you salt the water! Cook the penne as per the timing instructions on the back of the bag.
As your penne is cooking, prepare you super easy sauce. In a pan, saute your garlic in EVOO. Once it’s starts to turn a tiny bit brown, add in your sausage out of it’s casing. Yes, just the meat and take out the white thing that’s surrounding the meat. Stir and cook till brown. Add in your mushrooms and cook until soft. Add a dash of S&P to your liking. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine or chicken stock (eyeballing 1/4 cup of wine or chicken stock). Stir for about a minute and add your parmesan cheese to the pasta. Mix again until all the cheese has melted and it’s ready to serve (or be packed away for lunch!).

Herbed Marinated Chicken Thighs
Ingredients:
– 4 Chicken Thighs
– 2-4 cloves of garlic finely chopped or grated
– 1 shallot, chopped
– 2 tsp of dried sage
– 3 sprigs of basil, chopped
– EVOO
– S&P
– Unsalted Butter
– Splash (about 2-3 tbsp) of white wine

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Instructions:
I find it so much easier to marinate meat when I use a freezer bag. After you S&P your chicken on both sides, place your chicken inside the freezer bag, along with 1 tbsp of EVOO, shallot and garlic. I love garlic, so I tend to add a lot more garlic into my dishes/marinades. Add the sage and basil in the bag as well. Close the bag and massage the chicken until it is evenly covered by the marinade. Place in fridge for a minimum of 1 hour, but I suggest to leave it overnight for an even better taste.
Use and oven safe skillet/pan to sear (cook in high heat to brown) the chicken on both sides. If you don’t have an oven safe pan that you can use both on your cooktop and in the oven, just use a normal pan to sear the chicken before moving it into a oven-safe container/corningware/anything you can use to bake. This way the skin on your chicken is extremely crispy! Bake the chicken at 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes. The best way to check if your chicken is done is by using a meat thermometer – if you have one, the chicken should be at 165 degrees. If you don’t, just cut the chicken open and make sure it’s white all the way through.
When you take your chicken out of your container/pan, there should be juices at the bottom. DO NOT THROW THIS OUT. Instead put it aside in a little bowl/container. Put your pan back on the stove (or use the one you previously used for searing the chicken). If you have any leftover garlic and shallot bits in that freezer bag you marinated your chicken in, take it all out and put it in the pan. Add in a little dab of butter into the pan and put it on medium heat. Once the butter is all melted and the garlic and shallot are cooked, add a splash of wine into the pan. You might have bits of brown at the bottom of the pan from searing the chicken in the beginning – it’s okay! Scrape that out as the alcohol from the wine is burning off, these scraps will make your sauce richer. After a minute or two, add in the chicken juices that you saved. Give your sauce a taste and add S&P to your liking. Pour this yummy goodness on top of your cooked chicken, and voila!

So to add on the meal, I would bring a small salad (tomato, cucumber, feta, and red wine vinaigrette) or I would roast tomatoes with a little EVOO and S&P as a side. You can also bring the chicken with a small side of rice and it tastes really good!

So that’s what’s in my lunch box this past week! I’m already planning what to bring for this coming week, so I hope y’all stay tuned for more meal preppin’ ideas!

If you are already meal prepping and have ideas for me to try, I want to hear from you! Please comment below!

Cheers xo,
Kim

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