Rice Bowl Meal Prep | The arrival of a new year means the setting of new goals. One of my goals is to get my eating back on track after three months of eating virtually whatever I want.
Mmmmm….pasteles. And, I am doing it with rice bowl meal prep ideas.
Planning and meal prepping is the key to success when trying to lose weight. Over the last year and a half, I have been really good about working out regularly but, I got a little lax with my eating over the holidays. But, I have some goals I want to accomplish this year and today I am sharing how I plan to meet those goals.
One of my biggest struggle when it comes to meal planning is that I never know what I want to eat and I cannot eat the same thing every day. If I do I quickly develop a bad case of palate fatigue and end up almost gagging on the food. I know not a pretty picture, not fun.
The other challenge is that my husband is also counting macros and he has different requirements then I do. With this system, I am able to easily a different balanced meal that meets each of our needs every day.
Why Rice Bowls Are The Best
Rice bowls are basically a warm super hearty salad. Picture this, it’s lunch or dinner time. What are you in the mood for? Are you in the mood for meat and potatoes, Mexican, Italian, Indian, or Thai because there is a rice bowl for all of those.
When counting calories or macros you think of only 2 to 3 items on the plate but with a rice bowl, you can have a perfectly balanced plate of macros with 5 or more items. Each item will add it’s unique flavor and texture making your easy meal super satisfying.
Rice Bowl Recipe & Meal Prep Tips
Part of my Sunday afternoon routine is to meal prep for the week ahead. I spend the day shopping, blanching vegetables, roasting chicken, slow-cooking beef, and slicing vegetables. At the top of my shopping list are rice and grain pouches. The rice pouches can get pricey but, they are available at Aldi’s an average of $1 less than the average grocery store.
After I prep my proteins and vegetables I store them in vacuum-sealed bags. I do this for two reasons. First, I have a very small refrigerator and the vacuum-sealed bags fit better in my refrigerator. The other reason is that it helps extend the shelf life and quality of the prepped foods.
Every time I open a bag I just cut the seal and reseal when I am done. However, if you do not have a vacuum seal system you can use resealable plastic bags and food storage containers.
Below is a list of the foods I prep. I have included links to my favorite seasoning mixes and dressing. I don’t prep the full list every week this is just a running list of items I rotate.
- quinoa and brown rice pouch
- seven grains pouch
- brown and red rice
- brown basmati rice
- roasted bone-in chicken breast
- grass-fed beef chuck
- pork loin roast
- hard-boiled egg
- roasted diced sweet potato
- roasted diced butternut squash
- roasted quartered radishes
- blanched halved brussels sprouts
- blanched cauliflower florets
- blanched broccoli florets
- blanched green beans
- sliced mushrooms
- sliced zucchini
- sliced bell peppers
- cherry or grape tomatoes
- shredded carrot
- sliced baby cucumber
- sliced red onion
- power greens salad mix (spinach, baby chard, baby kale mix)
- black beans
seasonings and dressings
- all-purpose seasoning
- garlic herb seasoning
- Italian seasoning
- curry powder
- bbq seasoning
- beef spice rub
- makoto ginger dressing
- caramelized sweet onion dressing
- cilantro avocado dressing
- balsamic dressing
Meal Prep Recipes
Meal Prepping Proteins
When prepping proteins my goal is to prep them with as much flavor as possible without adding any calories.
For the chicken, I chose bone-in skin-on chicken breast that I roast in the oven. Chicken breast is high in protein and lean. Because it is such lean meat I roast it on the bone to keep it from drying out. Once it is done I remove the skin and bone and store it for the week.
I choose grass-fed beef because it’s leaner than conventional beef. The difference isn’t huge but, every little bit counts. This beef can be prepared in a slow cooker or electric pressure cooker.
I love pork and so, of course, I have to prep some pork. Pork loin is lean meat and to make sure it is flavorful and not dry I prepare it in a slow-cooker or electric pressure cooker.
Some vegetables cook quickly with a quick saute, others need more time. Because of this, not all vegetables should be prepped the same. What I call “delicate vegetables” can be quickly sauteed in a pan with some cooking spray and salt. These vegetables can be simply sliced and stored to use later.
Hearty vegetables, on the other hand, need more time. Root vegetables like sweet potato and radishes should be fully cooked by roasting in the oven tossed with cooking spray and salt.
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and brussels sprouts are best blanched. The purpose of blanching is to lightly cook the vegetables, making them easy to saute. If you roast these vegetables by the time you reach the end of the week they are soggy and sad.
How to Blanch Vegetables
Fill a large pot halfway with water. Season the water with enough salt to where you just taste the salt in the water. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Heat large pot of water over medium-high heat until bubbles just start to form up the sides, don’t bring the water to a boil.
Add vegetables to the hot water. Let the vegetables cook until bright in color, tender but still crispy, 2 – 5 minutes depending on the vegetables.
Using a slotted spoon or strainer transfer the vegetables to the ice to shock the vegetables and stop the cooking process. Once the vegetables are cool transfer to a clean kitchen towel to dry. Store in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag.
Pickling does amazing things! Pickled vegetables add virtually no nutritional value but it’s an easy way to add texture and acid to your food. Acid and texture are two key things that make food more enjoyable.
I keep a batch of quick pickled red onion, shredded carrots, and sliced baby cucumbers on hand all the time. Trust me a little-pickled vegetable can make all the difference in the world.
I normally use white vinegar but you can also use apple cider, red wine, white wine, champagne, or sherry vinegar.
Legumes are easy! I buy the frozen steamer shelled edamame. Steam the edamame in the bag and store. Done!
Drain and rinse canned legumes like lentils, garbanzos, or black bean. For one can of beans spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Saute 1/4 cup of minced onion and 2 minced garlic cloves in the skillet until translucent.
Add the beans and toss with sauteed onions and garlic. Season with salt to taste. Set aside to cool completely and store in food storage containers.
How to Make a Rice Bowl
Now that you have prepped all these excellent foods, what do you do with them? Of course, every bowl starts with rice, but what to put on the rice is the question. When I am trying to come up with a rice bowl combination, I first think of what kind of food am I’m in the mood. This helps me determine not only my protein and vegetable but also my seasonings and dressing.
- When preparing my healthy lunch or dinner, I keep a kitchen scale on hand. I cook the rice pouch according to the package directions and weigh and log each item in my food log.
- I lightly saute the vegetables and proteins in a non-stick skillet with some olive oil cooking spray. Once they are browned and heated through, they are ready to enjoy.
- Top the rice with the protein, vegetables, pickled vegetables, and dressing, done! It all takes about 10 to 15 minutes. I like to saute each item individually, but if you prefer, you can toss everything together in the skillet.
I have always struggled with meal planning because I don’t know what I will be in the mood to eat from day today. This is the system that has worked best for me. I can cater to my cravings and meet my macros. It’s a win-win.
Rice Bowl Ideas
- roast chicken with a little soy sauce, brussels sprouts, edamame, avocado, pickled carrots, power greens, and ginger dressing
- braised beef, mushrooms, cauliflower, power greens, quick-pickled cucumbers, and caramelized sweet onion dressing
- roast chicken with garlic herb seasoning, sweet potato, brussels sprouts, radishes, power greens, quick-pickled cucumbers, and caramelized sweet onion dressing
- braised pork loin with cumin, sliced bell peppers, avocado, quick pickled red onion, black beans, power greens, and salsa
- roast chicken with Italian seasoning, sliced bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, pickled red onions, power greens, and balsamic dressing.
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