Easing into Meal Prepping: Lean and Mean Stuffed Red Peppers

I am always trying to learn new ways to do things and cooking is no exception. For some time I have seen the idea of weekly meal preps floating around and have been a little apprehensive to give it a try. I don’t know why really. I suppose that it seems to me that I really enjoy cooking and doing the whole weeks cooking all on one designated day or two days seemed sad to me. Like skipping my favorite class in school or something. So I’ve trudged along, seeing the meal prep hype grow and kept my nose to the grindstone with my daily routine of cooking.

Then one day on my second or third (or was it my fifth?) batch of dishes I realized that cooking I love, but dishes I hate. And I make a lot of dishes cooking three meals and experimenting with other dishes in between. Plus extra dishes for photos and such…I think I spend more time at the sink than the stove. So in an effort to free up some time I decided to give weekly meal prepping a try mainly to reduce dish washing to a few days a week.

The verdict? I have to say that it is super nice to only wash a couple plates and forks most nights. Plus there is no rush to get lunches ready in the morning. Food is ready in minutes so there is never a urge to resort to convenience food. Plus its pretty darn easy to plan what I’m making, shop for the week and then come straight home and cook and package it for the week. Portion control is easily managed too since portions can be measured, weighed and stored in perfect individual sizes, like customized (and much healthier) Lean Cuisines.

I will admit that I did miss my daily play time in the kitchen so I do still tinker in the kitchen almost daily. I’m still amending the process to fit my style and I am finding that I enjoy pre-making breakfast and lunches so I only have to do those prep dishes once a week. I also enjoy making some dinners to have on hand such as these handy Lean and Mean Stuffed Red Peppers. They are versatile and can be filled with veggies, grains and beans or whatever you may have on hand to stuff in them. Perhaps the best part is that you can make a lot a once. They taste equally as great reheated, can even be frozen and can be morphed into any sort of flavor you may be craving by tweaking the seasonings.

I’m no meal prep die-hard, but I have learned to appreciate its best qualities and I’m also learning how to make it work for me to add more value to my quality of life. And doing less dishes certainly makes me happier therefor it’s reason enough for me to keep on experimenting with meal prepping. I especially find it helpful to cook a large pot of beans, a large batch of rice, and wash, prep and chop most of our veggies for the week. This way the items that take a while to cook (beans and rice) are always ready and can be heated and seasoned with some precut veggies in only a few minutes. It’s like instant meals. Almost heat and eat. That’s why this recipe features precooked rice.

A final word about meal prepping: Give it a try by at least starting small. Instead of cooking ALL the meals for the week, begin by prepping all of your ingredients for the week. Fill your fridge with veggies that are washed and chopped and precooked grains and proteins. You will save time and hassle during the week and even save some dollars on those convenience foods found at the supermarket. After you get the hang of ingredient prepping, try pre-cooking breakfasts and lunches for the family. Imagine waking up each morning and breakfast only needs to be heated and lunches only need to be pulled from the fridge and bagged. Brilliant! Then try venturing into making a few dishes you can have later in the week like these tasty peppers.  Customize them to your hearts desire and enjoy a night of low-key kitchen work.

 

Stuffed Red Peppers

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 25 mins

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 8 red bell peppers cut vertically, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 1/2 cups precooked rice of your choice (wild rice is especially tasty)
  • 1 package tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450F

Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 13×9 glass pan. Place your pepper halves, cut side up, in the pan so that they are not touching each other or the sides of the dish. Set aside

In a skillet over medium high heat, add a few tablespoons of water. Whisk the tomato paste into the water until dissolved.

Add the crumbled tempeh, onions and mushrooms and simmer 3-5 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.

Stir in the precooked rice.

Add the garlic, cumin, poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to your taste. Stir well to incorporate and simmer 5 more minutes adding a bit more water if needed so that the mixture does not cook dry.

Remove the skillet from the heat and begin scooping spoonfuls of the mixture into the pepper shells until they are evenly filled and slightly heaping with filling.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the peppers have softened and are beginning to brown in places.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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