Meal Prep Bowl Tips
Add delish by skipping the plastic tupperware
The trendy concept of meal prep is on everyone’s lips. This plan-ahead hack saves time and encourages healthy eating. When done right a prepper can easily achieve both. However a lot of meal prep plans rely heavily on plastic tupperware and having oodles of plastic containers in the cabinet.
In our forever goal of reducing our plastic use, we look to a more flexible and easy meal prep plan sans plastic that also happens to be delicious! Bowls. Yes bowls. Another trendy concept we can’t see going out of style.
High eco achievers will be happy to know they can even combine the best of both worlds. Stocking meal prepping bowl ingredients ahead of time and using elegant stainless steel bentos to store them instead of leachy plastic containers is the key!
From Prepped Meals to Bowl Preps
Simply put, a bowl is a meal in, well, a bowl. But to fine-tune it a bit, bowls are comprised of several components working together in perfect harmony to create a healthy and filling meal. According to one of our new favorite cookbooks, Bowls! by Megan Watson, a bowl is traditionally made up of:
-A hearty base be it grains, noodles, or leafy greens
-Protein whether it’s meat or tofu or anything in between
-Plenty of veggies (mixing fresh and roasted is yummy!)
-Something to add texture and make eating fun like nuts or seeds
-A sauce to hold it all together
We like to prep these components all at once. That way we can easily assemble a bowl quickly before heading out the door in the morning.
Once you plan your bowl, either from a recipe or from your wild imagination, head to the grocery store. The healthy, fresh ingredients typically found in bowls allow you to skip pre-packaged and processed foods and focus on produce or food from the bulk section.
A Bowl Prepper’s Best Friend
Remember to bring your reusable Blue Water Bento containers to fill up on crunchy, nutritious seeds, nuts or other crunchies. To ease check-out, use stainless steel containers like our Blue Water Bento Seal Cup Large that have tare weights etched on the bottoms. This way the cashier can back out the weight of the container when weighing the package-free bulk goods you’re purchasing.
Traditionally, Sunday night is perfect for a weekly meal prep cooking session but everyone’s schedule is different and this type of meal prep works with a variety of schedules.
Depending on how many different bowl components you’re whipping up, you can easily store each one in a Blue Water Bento container. These stackable containers come in a variety of sizes with a leak-proof silicone lid.
Stainless Steel Bowls To Go Where You Go
They’re especially convenient if you make a few components on the stove. Allow them to cool in the stainless steel bento while you clean your kitchen. Plastics leach chemicals, like BPA and other unhealthy bisphenols, into food when heated. Just another reason to avoid plastic altogether.
Once you have your beans, dressing, and protein stored in bentos, get some rest! Put together a fresh bowl every morning. You can always add or subtract to give yourself some variety throughout the week. That way lunchtime is always exciting.
As a bonus, food can be safely reheated in stainless steel Blue Water Bento containers in a toaster oven, steam oven or regular oven. Use a pot holder or our Stainless Steel Pot Gripper to get them in and out safely sans burns. Hopefully, you already know that plastics are not safe containers to reheat in the microwave or anywhere else!
A Favorite Recipe
We recently made the Budapest Bowl from Bowls! using the Seal Cup Fivesome Set to store most of the ingredients and were quite pleased with the results. This bowl is
hearty and filling with lots of fun flavors and texture. The chicken can easily be substituted for tofu. Try swapping Greek yogurt for sour cream for a healthier alternative you may already have in the fridge. A little bit of microgreen sprinkled on top adds another layer of crunch!
Budapest Bowl from Bowls! by Molly Watson
Order of Operations
1. Cook the chicken
2. Make the pilaf
3. Make the slaw
4. Heat the beans
5. Assemble the bowls
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil 2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp mild Hungarian paprika
1 tsp hot paprika, or ½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth
Mushroom Barley Pilaf
8 oz cremini mushroom
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup pearled barley
3 cups chicken, vegetable, or mushroom broth
Sweet Pepper Slaw
3 bell pepper
3 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
Dilled White Beans
One 14 ½ oz can of white beans, rinsed, and drained
½ cups chopped fresh dill
Freshly ground pepper
½ cup sour cream
Chopped fresh dill for garnish
For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pat the chicken dry. In a large frying pan or sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, undisturbed, until it starts to brown on the underside, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and brown on the second side, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to the plate. Add the butter to the same pan and melt over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mild and hot paprika and cook, stirring, to coat the onion. Pour in the broth and bring to a boil
Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake the chicken until very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, and use a wooden spoon to separate the chicken into shreds (that’s how tender it should be). Place the pan on the stove top over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by one-third, about 20 minutes.
For the pilaf: Begin the pilaf while the chicken is in the oven. Trim off the stem ends from the mushrooms, then cut off the stems. Finely chop the stems and thinly slice the caps. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.
Add the barley and stir to mix everything well. Pour in the broth and stir again to mix. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to maintain a steady simmer, cover partially, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender, about 30 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed before the barley is tender, add up to 1 cup water, ¼ cup at a time.
For the slaw: Seed and thinly slice peppers. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the peppers and toss to combine.
For the beans: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the beans until hot (or put them in a microwave-safe bowl and heat them in the microwave). Add the dill, season with salt and pepper, and toss to mix well.
Meal prep can work for anyone no matter their schedules. Our meal prep tips center around bowls because we love them so much but ECOlunchbox’s line of products of
nested sets that mix and match make taking lunch to work and school all that much easier and eco-friendly. Why not give it a try!