Real talk: I can be a picky eater. Sometimes I can have a favorite meal and I will eat it four times in one week and make it again. Then there are the moments when I’m in a “food mood” where I am bored and couldn’t imagine eating the same meal more than once in a week. Plus, as a 9-5’er, I do not have the patience to cook from scratch every night so I developed this technique. It’s less of a technique and more of a strategy, or really a plan, or — dare I say it? — MEAL PREP.
I start out with one recipe, but then transform it throughout the week.
The base recipe that I prepare on Sunday is:
My Favorite Tomato Quinoa
2 cups dry quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable stock
2 ½ cups crushed tomatoes
½ tbsp garlic powder
optional: salt to taste
- Rise your quinoa well and add it to the Instant Pot.
- Add the water or stock, crushed tomatoes and garlic powder and mix the ingredients.
- Secure the lid to your Instant Pot and make sure the valve is set to sealed.
- Cook on high pressure for 1 minute. (The instant pot will take roughly 10 minutes to come up to full pressure.) When the Instant Pot goes off, make sure that the keep warm function is off. Allow the quinoa to sit for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure.
- Fluff quinoa with a fork and season with salt to taste.
(#NotSponsored. Instant Pot doesn’t even know who I am.)
The magic now is in the details.
Night One: Season quinoa with ginger, curry powder, and mustard powder. Add stir fry vegetables, tamari (or equivalent), and tofu. Now you have a Curried (Not) Fried Quinoa.
Night Two: Season quinoa with cumin, chili powder. Add refried beans, peppers, and onions (I buy the frozen mix). Add guacamole for a Burrito Bowl.
Night Three: Season quinoa with basil, oregano, and nutritional yeast. Add (no)meatballs, lemony tempeh, or lentils. Then top with garlic sauteed kale, tomato sauce or pesto, transforming this into a Pizza Bowl.
Making the quinoa is the part that takes the longest, even with an Instant Pot, so preparing in advance saves the most time. If I have frozen veg, store-bought sauce, or pesto, it is really easy to heat everything up, throw in some tofu, beans, or mock-meat and have a meal in less than 30 minutes. I also often stack the ingredients into a mason jar for easy transportation and heating at work.
Alysa Wolfe is a MSVA graduate and designer. Al lives in Brooklyn with her rescue dog, Thisbe, who is also known as The Sass-Monster. Al currently runs Wolf + Roses Studio, LLC where she designs and sells tees to support mental health and raise money for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that provides crisis intervention for LGBT Youth.