You know those prep-ahead clean eating lunch videos – often from Tasty? Well, I decided to give one a whirl.
Here’s the basic concept: pick 1 protein for 3-oz servings, 2 vegetables, and 1 gluten free carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, quinoa).
Mine: chicken breast with ginger aioli, brussels sprouts, asparagus and mushrooms, and creamer potatoes.
I took some help from my local Harris Teeter produce: cut and salt/pepper/garlicked brussels sprouts and asparagus pack ($3.99 each) and a ready-to-bake-in-pan package of creamer potatoes (also $3.99). The potatoes came with a seasoning packet, which I chose to use because the sodium was really, really low.
The only thing I made was garlic aioli. How? Peel some garlic – about 2 inches worth – and pour 1/4 cup of your good oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut) and a pinch of salt into your bullet blender and let it go. Then I brushed it directly onto my chicken breasts. I drizzled the little bit left over onto the brussels sprouts, just because.
Into a 450°F fully preheated oven for 30 minutes. That’s all it takes.
Let it cool and divvy it up into four microwave safe food storage containers. Voila. Lunch for the week – for me, at least, since I have only four days with a fixed lunch hour.
- $2.90 – Chicken Breast – one giant one from a 6-pack, cut into 4 pieces
- $3.99 – pre-cut asparagus with sliced mushrooms and minced garlic
- $3.99 – pre-cut brussels sprouts seasoned with salt and pepper
- $3.99 – creamer potatoes already in a baking pan and including seasonings
Total = $14.87
Cost per lunch = $3.72
For a family of 2-4, this meal can be made using 1 cutting board, 1 chef’s or chopping knife, 1 mixing bowl, and 1 large baking sheet. You can make clean up even easier by lining your baking sheet with foil.
For this dinner, you’ll need
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or comparable chicken strips or chicken thighs)
- 4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced (Yukon gold, red, russet – whatever kind you like)
- 1 lb brussels sprouts, cleaned and halved
- 1 Vidalia or sweet onion, large diced (optional)
- 2-4 T good oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut)
For the Marbella marinade, you’ll need
- 4 prunes, chopped roughly
- 6-8 green Spanish olives stuffed with pimentos, chopped roughly
- 1 T capers, chopped roughly
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup good oil (olive, grapeseed, coconut)
- 1/4 apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/4 t pepper
The night before you’ll be cooking this dinner, combine all of the Marbella marinade ingredients and whisk to mix well. Pour over the raw chicken (yep, it can even be frozen still); make sure the chicken is one layer when you put it in the fridge. It is super important that you marinate the chicken overnight.
For baking, prehead the oven to 375°F, line your baking sheet with foil and spray it down well with cooking spray.
Toss your diced potatoes and halved Brussels sprouts in good oil and salt and pepper. You can certainly add any other spices you like at this time; for pairing with the Marbella flavors, I recommend lemon pepper or dijon, something with a strong, tart flavor to contrast with the salty and sweet of the Marbella.
Lay out the chicken in a row across one end of the pan, layer the potatoes in the middle in one layer, and layer the Brussels sprouts and onions on the other end of the pan. Pour any remaining Marbella marinate over the chicken.
Place the pan on the upper rack in the center of the oven, and set the timer for 30 minutes.