This Healthy, Easy Meal-Prep Plan Shows How to Use Quinoa in 5 Different Ways

Photo: Tatiana Boncompagni; Art: W+G Creative
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Well+Good's Prep School series is here to take the stress out of meal prep. Each week, your full game plan is completely mapped out for you: everything from your grocery list and what to make on Sunday to how you'll rework that food into into easy dinners the rest of the week. Throughout the month of May, we're going all in on pantry staples, with a different standout each week.

As a personal trainer and holistic health coach, Tatiana Boncompagni has heard (repeatedly) from clients about the very real struggles of keeping healthy food prepped in the fridge. When life gets busy, finding the mental and physical energy to cobble together a healthy meal isn't always easy. Even when you do have the time, it's hard to consistently come up with exciting meals that have the nutrient balance you're looking for.

Boncompagni totally gets it. But for her, healthy cooking has long been her Thing. Previously a recipe developer, she's using her passion through her new healthy meal delivery service, Eat Sunny. She partnered with an executive chef to create vegetarian and flexitarian freshly prepared meals that can be delivered to people living in New York City, Connecticut, and New Jersey. And now, she's helping everyone by serving as this week's Prep School expert.

"I incorporated a lot of the same ideas we use with Eat Sunny meals—high-fiber and antioxidant rich vegetables, anti-inflammatory spices, slow-digesting grain, [and] healthy fats," she says. At the core of her meal plan for the week is something you probably already have in your pantry: quinoa.

Here, she gives the recipe for a chicken and quinoa pilaf (you can use lentils in place of chicken if you don't eat meat or your grocery store is out of chicken right now) that can be reinvented into five new ways throughout he week. Intrigued at how the humble grain can be metamorphosed in a way that will keep you coming back for more? Keep reading for the full meal plan.

Scroll down to see your plan for the week:

how to use quinoa

Ingredients to buy:


  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 zucchini
  • 6 white mushrooms
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup pre-cut butternut squash
  • Cilantro

Pantry goods

Meat, dairy, and eggs

  • One 5-6 lb. free-range chicken
  • 1/2 dozen eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 small container of plain Greek yogurt

What you'll need from the fridge/pantry:

The recipe to cook on Sunday for a week's worth of healthy dinners:

quinoa recipe
Photo: Tatiana Boncompagni

Spice-rubbed roast chicken with quinoa pilaf

Meal prep tip: Follow this recipe on Sunday and you'll end up with enough protein and whole grains to rework into different dinners for the whole rest of the week. If you don't eat chicken or can't find any right now, skip that part of the recipe and prep one cup of lentils instead, storing it in the fridge in an air-tight container to cook with later in the week. Enjoy a serving of the chicken and quinoa pilaf for dinner tonight and save the rest to eat later in the week.

Yields 5 servings

For the chicken:
One small free-range chicken (about 5-6 lbs)
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the quinoa pilaf:
2 cups uncooked quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cracked black pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
6 white mushrooms, chopped
3 Tbsp chopped walnuts (optional)
Salt to taste

To make the chicken:
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. In a small bowl, mix spices.

3. Remove the chicken giblets. Remove any excess skin and fat with poultry scissors or a sharp knife. Stuff the cavity with half an onion. Place chicken in a baking pan and rub spice mixture into the chicken. Drizzle olive oil over chicken.

4. Roast chicken for 45 minutes. Add carrots, zucchini and mushrooms into pan and continue to roast for 30 to 45 minutes more or when juices run clear when you puncture the chicken. Remove from oven and set aside.

5. While it's still warm, shred the chicken to make it easier to incorporate into recipes throughout the week. Save one serving for dinner tonight; store the remaining chicken in the fridge for up to one week.

To make the quinoa pilaf:

1.  Rinse the quinoa with cold water.

2. In a large sauté pan, add oil and onion. Sauté over low heat until onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add spices, garlic, carrot, zucchini, mushrooms and walnuts. Cook another 15 minutes, until vegetables are soft.

3. At the same time, in a medium sized pan add quinoa and two cups of water or broth. Bring water to a boil and cook until the quinoa has absorbed all the water, about 10 minutes. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, another five minutes.

4. Gently fold quinoa into vegetables. Salt to taste. Garnish with cilantro.

5. Save one serving for dinner tonight; store the remaining in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to one week.

Here's how to rework into a whole week's worth of tasty dinners:

monday dinner: chicken quinoa soup

Leftovers: 1/2 cup quinoa pilaf, 1/2 cup shredded chicken (or 1/2 cup lentils if you didn't make the chicken)

New ingredients: 1/2 cup chopped kale, 1 1/2 cup chicken broth

This yummy, protein-rich soup comes together in less than 10 minutes. In a medium-sized sauce pan over high heat, add the shredded chicken (or lentils), kale, and broth to a pan. Heat until boiling, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes. Add a quarter cup of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and serve.

tuesday dinner: Mexican chicken and quinoa bowl

Leftovers: 1/2 cup quinoa pilaf, 1/2 cup shredded chicken

New ingredients: 1/2 avocado, sliced, 1/2 cup canned black beans, 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

Quinoa makes a great base for a Mexican-inspired rice bowl. Simply heat the black beans on the stove, along with the quinoa pilaf and chicken. Then, add your chopped tomatoes and avocado and serve.

wednesday dinner: Quinoa Falafel with Salad and Avocado Crema

Leftovers: 1 cup quinoa pilaf

New ingredients: 3/4 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, 1 egg, 1/4 cup flour (or alt-flour), 1 tsp salt, cooking oil, 1/2 avocado, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, chopped kale (however much you have left)

Transforming quinoa into falafel only takes about 15 minutes and they're really delicious paired with this easy avocado crema. Combine the pilaf, chickpeas, egg, flour, and salt in a bowl. Mash them together until mixture is chunky but holds together. Add a tablespoon of neutral cooking oil to a sauté pan on medium heat. Form the falafel mixture into balls (slightly larger than a golf ball) and add all of the balls to the pan. Cook, occasionally turning balls until they are golden on all all sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. You'll end up with between eight to 10 falafel balls (depending on the size.) Put half of your falafel balls in an air-tight container in the fridge to save for Friday dinner—you'll be enjoying them in a whole new way!

To make the avocado crema, add the avocado (sliced), olive oil, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar to a small bowl. Mash them together until the texture is smooth.

To serve, top your chopped kale with four to five falafels, and drizzle with avocado crema. Yum!

thursday dinner: Quinoa and chicken with pre-chopped butternut squash

Leftovers: 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 cup chicken (or lentils)

New ingredients: 1/2 cup cubed butternut squash, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bake the cubed squash (which you can find pre-cut at the grocery store in the produce or freezer sections) with a drizzle of olive oil and cumin and oregano in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. While it's cooking, heat up the quinoa and chicken (or lentils) on the stove. Then, serve it all together, topped with a quarter cup of Parmesan cheese.

friday dinner: falafel balls and zucchini noodles

Leftovers: falafel balls

New ingredients: 2 zucchini, 1/2 cup tomato sauce

Finish your week off with a big, comforting bowl of zoodles, made by spiralizing your remaining two zucchini (or buying them pre-cut—your choice!). Sauté the zucchini noodles for two minutes. Then, add the tomato sauce and falafel balls and heat until warmed through.

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