How to master the 20 minute meal
A few months back, I began feeling absolutely underwhelmed by every single thing I was eating. I would spend all Sunday meal prepping food for the week—food I was convinced I would like—only to feel nauseous about two bites into the meal. I never looked forward to my lunches or dinners, anticipating the ill feeling.
Between the oil build up, the lack of texture (particularly missed that good crunch!), and the hassle of buying and prepping meat only to discard it, I was not pleased.
I don’t know quite the reason why I was getting sick every time I ate, but you can bet I took it as a sign. My opinion? I figured my mind and body just really didn’t like what I was eating, and so it naturally revolted. This actually happens more than we think—our bodies are so in tune with what’s going on, that if we mentally don’t feel great, we physically begin to react.
I was feeling a bit conflicted then—I hated the hassle of cooking an entire meal as soon as I got home and I definitely didn’t have the budget to eat out for lunch/dinner whenever I got tired of cooking for myself.
While I didn’t have an immediate solution for lunch (something I am still working on, but definitely getting closer to), I did come up with what has turned out to be a bomb dinner plan. Enter the 20-minute meal. Not a pain in the butt to make after a long day of work and tasty as heck. No leftover blah, but all fresh woo! ;)
So what does the 20-minute meal entail? Frozen (or fresh) veggies, quick cooking grains, creativity with proteins, lotsa spices/sauces, and only 1-2 dishes. Oh and pretty dang inexpensive overall! Since the 20-minute meal works best when you throw a variety of things (make sure they are your favorite things) together, I figured I would leave a little list here of my personal favorite things and you all could play around with combining them in whatever way pleases you!
Trader Joes frozen rainbow cauliflower
Soba noodles (doubles as protein!)
Chickpea or lentil pasta (doubles as protein!)
Whole wheat pasta
Trader Joes cauliflower gnocchi
Frozen (organic, all natural, low sodium!) sausages or turkey burgers (I love Applegate’s!)
Frozen plant based burgers
Frozen (sustainably caught!) fish (love salmon)
The biggest trick here is to chop all your veggies (and if you choose to use fresh meat) very small and even so they cook quickly. You can also meal prep parts of these dishes in advance— such as a batch of rice or chopping veggies to make your nights a little bit quicker.
A few of my favorite combos?
Soba Noodle Ramen: Soft boil an egg and while it cools in water, cook soba noodles in bone broth in the same pot you just used. A few minutes in, add in frozen veggies (I love the cauliflower!) and ginger, garlic, and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper and put the egg on top!
Cauli Gnocchi: In a skillet heat up a bit of oil. Turn down heat to medium and throw in the gnocchi. Once brown, add in the frozen or fresh veggies of your choice and add on tomato sauce. Top with cheese, salt and pepper. Optional: Add in some sausages!
Sheet Pan Meal (Burgers, fries, and crispy broccoli): Preheat your oven. While heating, chop your sweet potato into tiny cubes. On parchment paper, toss both the fries and the broccoli with salt, pepper and oil. Add in the burger. Cook for the directed time, making sure to remove the veggies when crisp and not overcooking if the burger is done.
And for those nights when I am just absolutely exhausted? There is always Caulipower pizza ;)