Meal prepping is the not-so-secret hack for making eating healthy during busy weekdays a cinch, but it's a lot easier said than done—even with the best intentions and a Pinterest board full of ideas. Enter Prep School, Well+Good's new series that makes meal prep simple. Each month, we'll focus on a different eating style, with four weeks of different delicious plans to try at home. We're kicking it off with a whole month dedicated to easy, gluten-free meal prep.
Lindsay Cotter is a gluten-free cooking pro. A nutrition expert and the creative force behind Cotter Crunch, she tests and tries new recipes on the reg, sharing only the best on her site and in her cookbook, Nourishing Superfood Bowls. She's also a major meal prepper, regularly helping gluten-free eaters craft meal plans that will make their life easier throughout busy weeks—without sacrificing on taste.
"There are two easy meals I recommend making on Sunday that can then be incorporated into different meals throughout the week," Cotter says. "Stuffed bell pepper bowls and Mongolian beef and broccoli rice bowls. Make these two dishes on Sunday and you'll have ingredients prepped to use in whole new ways throughout the week."
Here, she shares the ingredients list that has everything you need to meal prep a week's worth of easy, gluten-free dinners for one person, including recipes for her two "core meals" and how to use those leftovers Monday through Friday (without getting totally sick of them).
Keep reading for everything you need to master a week's worth of easy, gluten-free dinners:
Ingredients to buy for your gluten-free dinners:
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 onion
- 4-5 bell peppers
- 1 head of broccoli
- 10 oz. cherry tomatoes
- Bag of greens (like baby spinach or baby kale)
- Fresh cilantro
- Ginger (fresh or pre-minced)
Meat, dairy, and eggs
- 1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 lb beef sirloin
- 1 dozen eggs
- 1 package shredded cheddar cheese
- Optional: Yogurt or sour cream
- Gluten-free wraps
- 1 32 oz. container of vegetable broth
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas
- Avocado oil
- 8 oz. can tomato sauce or barbecue sauce
- Tamari sauce
- Coconut sugar
- Arrowroot powder or potato starch
- Red pepper flakes
- Sesame seeds
- 1 container/jar tzatziki or pesto (your choice)
- Optional: Chopped cashews
- Optional: Garlic powder
What you'll need from your pantry/fridge:
The 2 recipes to cook on Sunday for a week's worth of easy gluten-free dinners:
Recipe 1: Deconstructed stuffed bell pepper bowls
Meal prep tip: This will be your dinner for Sunday night. The original recipe only calls for roughly one-and-a-half bell peppers, but go ahead and slice up three extra so they're ready to use in other ways throughout the week. Store the remaining leftovers separately so you can enjoy them later on.
Yields 4 servings
For the beef or turkey:
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
8 oz. tomato sauce or barbecue sauce
2 tsp gluten-free tamari
For the bowls:
3 cups cooked quinoa (plus an additional cup, to use later in the week)
4 cups greens (My personal preference is spinach. Note: Three of these cups will be saved for eating later in the week.)
1 bell pepper, sliced thin (Slice the rest of your bell peppers, so they're ready to use throughout the week)
Handful of fresh torn cilantro
1 green onion, chopped
Handful of sliced cherry tomatoes
Red pepper flakes
Lemon slices, for garnish
Optional: Yogurt or sour cream (for topping)
1. To make the meat, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground meat and cook until no longer pink, about eight to ten minutes. Drain off any extra fat.
2. Add the garlic and onion, cooking for two to three minutes until fragrant. Add the chopped bell pepper, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, cooking for five minutes. Add the tomato sauce (or barbecue sauce) and tamari, and cook until bubbly, about five more minutes.
3. For the bowl, spoon a cup of quinoa into a large bowl, followed by a cup of greens. Add in a fourth of the ground meat mixture, followed by some sliced bell pepper, cilantro, green onion and cherry tomatoes.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with sour cream or yogurt and red pepper flakes, if desired, and garnish with sliced lemon.
5. Store the remaining quinoa, greens, ground meat, and toppings (bell pepper, tomatoes, etc.) in separate glass containers and refrigerate.
Recipe 2: Mongolian beef and broccoli rice bowls
Meal prep tip: Enjoy one serving of the beef and broccoli rice for dinner on Monday and save the remaining broccoli rice and beef to use later in the week. Store them in separate glass containers in the fridge. (If you don't feel like cooking a second recipe on Sunday, you could also make this on Monday.)
Yields 4 servings
1. Slice your scallions, and slice meat into thin strips.
2. Toss your meat in one teaspoon oil and one teaspoon starch. Place in bowl or plastic bag and marinade in the fridge for 10 minutes, or up to one hour.
To make the sauce:
1. In a small sauce pan, add one tablespoon avocado oil, garlic, and grated ginger. Stir fry until fragrant.
2. Whisk together tamari, broth, and coconut sugar. Add mixture to sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer on low until thickened, about 10 minutes.
To cook the beef:
1. Heat a separate large skillet pan with 1/3 cup oil. Lightly coat beef strips in extra 1/4 cup starch, then place in pan. Cook in oil for about one minute on each side, browning the steak strips.
2. Reduce heat, then drain excess oil from pan.
3. Add your beef sauce and cook with meat for one minute, coating the beef evenly. Turn off heat and set aside while you make the broccoli rice.
For the broccoli rice:
1. Cut your broccoli head into three to four parts. Place each into blender or food processor until all is evenly “riced."
2. Place riced broccoli in a large microwave safe bowl. Add one tablespoon broth or water. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Lightly steam in microwave for 45 seconds to one minute. Add garlic powder and chopped cashew to broccoli rice, if desired.
To assemble the bowls:
1. Add a half cup or more broccoli rice to bowls. Then place a fourth of the beef with some sauce on top.
2. Add sliced scallion and red pepper flakes to top. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.
3. Store the remaining broccoli rice, beef, and toppings in separate glass containers in the refrigerator.
Here's how to use these recipes to make easy, gluten-free dinners all week long:
Monday Dinner: Mongolian Beef and Broccoli Rice Bowl
Leftovers: Mongolian beef and broccoli rice bowl
No extra cooking required! Just go ahead and heat up a serving of your beef and broccoli leftovers that you made Sunday.
Tuesday Dinner: Easy Grain Bowl
Leftovers: 1 cup quinoa, 4 oz. ground meat, 1 cup greens, 3 oz. cherry tomatoes
New ingredients: Leftover vegetables (optional), sauce of choice such as tzatziki or pesto
Use some extra quinoa from the bell pepper bowls as a base for a grain bowl for dinner, adding in some leftover greens, cherry tomatoes, and other veggies of your choice—whatever is already in your crisper that you love. Add a serving of leftover beef or turkey for protein. Top with sauce for extra flavor. Since there's no cooking required, your dinner will be ready in minutes.
Wednesday Dinner: Easy High-Protein Wrap
Leftovers: 1 cup broccoli rice
New ingredients: 1 gluten-free wrap, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 4. oz ground meat, sauce of your choice such as tzatziki or pesto
A cup of broccoli rice makes the perfect filling for a yummy wrap. If you use a veggie-based gluten-free wrap, your meal will already be fiber-packed with just those two ingredients. Add a half-cup serving of canned chickpeas for protein and even more fiber. Last, layer in a sauce of your choice for flavor, such as tzatziki or creamy pesto.
Thursday dinner: Beef And Vegetable STir-Fry
Leftovers: 1 cup quinoa, 4 oz. Mongolian beef, 1/2 cup bell peppers, 1 cup greens (chopped), gluten-free tamari sauce
Use your leftover quinoa as a base for a quick-and-easy stir-fry. Since it's already cooked, all you need to do is throw it on the stove—along with your leftover bell peppers, greens, and a dash of tamari—and heat it up, which should only take a few minutes. This is another good way to use your extra beef for protein. And of course your chopped bell peppers will taste delicious in this dish, too.
Friday dinner: Vegetable And Cheese Omelette
Leftovers: 1/2 cup bell peppers, 1 cup broccoli rice
New ingredients: 2 eggs, veggies of your choice, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Omelettes are a quick, easy dinner that are full of protein. (Not sure how to whip up an omelette? Follow this easy recipe, from The Spruce Eats.) The beauty of this simple meal is it provides an easy way to use up whatever is in your crisper, including your prepped bell peppers and remaining broccoli rice.
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