It’s that time again! The time of year where I round up the top 20 recipes from the past year. Instead of picking the most viral or most visited recipes of the year (because algorithms can be deceiving), I’m rounding up the recipes that I found to be the most delicious. These are the recipes […]
It’s that time again! The time of year where I round up the top 20 recipes from the past year. Instead of picking the most viral or most visited recipes of the year (because algorithms can be deceiving), I’m rounding up the recipes that I found to be the most delicious. These are the recipes that I don’t want you to miss! So if you haven’t tried one of these 20 recipes yet, make sure to put it on your list!
Top 20 Recipes of 2020
Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta
Roasted Broccoli Pasta with Lemon and Feta is an incredibly simple pasta dish with big flavors. An easy, fast, and delicious weeknight dinner!
Smoky Roasted Sausage with Vegetables – I was all about the sheet pan meals this year. This one boasts a super delish smoky vinaigrette to drizzle over top of the roasted vegetables and sausage, which totally takes it to the next level. Serve it over rice to soak up every last drop of that delicious drizzle.
Roasted Cauliflower Taco Bowls with Cilantro Lime Ranch
These light and flavorful Roasted Cauliflower Taco Bowls have tons of color, flavor, and texture to keep you coming back for more! Great for meal prep!
Roasted Cauliflower Taco Bowls – There’s something about super colorful meals that make them even more delicious, and these cauliflower taco bowls are a great example. So much color, texture, AND flavor in one bowl.
Chunky Ham and Bean Soup
This incredibly easy and deliciously chunky Ham and Bean Soup features a medley of colorful vegetables, browned ham, and plenty of hearty white beans.
Chunky Ham and Bean Soup – Bean soups usually require hours of soaking and simmering, but this super hearty ham and bean soup gives you all the cozy-comfy vibes in way less time. Stock your freezer with this one so you can reheat a bowl of comfort any time!
Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy
Homemade Salisbury Steak with a rich mushroom gravy is a quick, simple, and hearty weeknight dinner that will fill even the biggest of appetites!
Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad– This simple salad was the runaway hit from 2020. It’s like, “I can’t stop eating this” good and the best part is that it holds up well in the fridge so you can keep eating it for days.
Chocolate Depression Cake (No Eggs, Butter, or Milk)
This unique Chocolate Cake recipe, popularized during the great depression, is rich and chocolatey without the using any eggs, butter, or milk!
Chocolate Depression Cake– This type of eggless, dairy-free cake has been around since the Great Depression and it proved to be just as useful in 2020, while we once again experienced grocery shortages. But honestly, it’s easy and delicious at any time!
Yogurt Banana Bread
This super moist banana bread recipe uses plain yogurt to keep the bread soft and tender with less butter or oil. Add walnuts or even chocolate!
Summer Sweet Corn Salad – This one is my new favorite way to eat fresh summer sweet corn! Those fresh little kernels give you a pop of sweetness in every bite. If we ever get back to having potlucks in 2021, make sure you have this salad bookmarked!
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
This super easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup is chock full of colorful, chunky vegetables in a rich and cheesy broth for a totally meal-worthy soup.
Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup– CHEESE LOVERS PAY ATTENTION. This soup is so thick, lush, and cheesy! And it has just enough vegetable action to balance that cheesy goodness. I’ve been making this one on repeat and I don’t get to do that with many because of how many new recipes I have to test and photograph.
Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet
This easy Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet is the perfect easy and filling weeknight dinner, packed with plenty of smoky-spicy flavor!
Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet– This recipe like a quickie jambalaya for people who don’t have time to do it the traditional way. Rice cooked with a whole heap of herbs and spices, plus smoked sausage to make everything super flavorful and rich. I just love everything about this recipe. <3
Sheet Pan Kielbasa Potatoes and Green Beans
Sheet pan meals don't get any easier or more delicious than this Sheet Pan Kielbasa Potatoes and Green Beans dinner.
Sheet Pan Kielbasa Green Beans and Potatoes – As I mentioned above, I was very into sheet pan meals this year. This sheet pan meal is the EASIEST of all sheet pan meals. Even with just SIX simple ingredients, this meal has tons of flavor. LOVE IT.
French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup requires time and patience, but the incredible soul-warming flavor and low cost make it a meal that is worth the wait!
French Onion Soup – While I love quick and easy recipes, some recipes really do require you to take your time and go slow. French Onion Soup is one of those, but it is so worth every minute. I would eat this soup on a weekly basis if I could.
Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash makes a great vegetarian (or vegan) Thanksgiving main dish, or a delicious dinner for any chilly fall evening!
Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash – I originally developed this recipe to be a vegetarian main dish option for Thanksgiving, but it’s really so good that I would eat it any day of the week. Bonus: the filling for the squash is incredible on its own and would make a great side dish to any dinner.
Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner
This Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner is an easy and flavorful weeknight dinner that requires very little prep and cleanup!
Sheet Pan Cranberry Chicken Dinner – Sheet pans for the win again! The cranberry balsamic glaze is what makes this meal. It has only three ingredients but is so rich and vibrant. You might start making it to drizzle over all of your other meals!
Marinated Cauliflower Salad
Marinated cauliflower salad is full of crunchy and colorful vegetables marinated in a homemade Italian dressing. Perfect for meal prep!
It’s always been my philosophy to keep my kitchen equipment basic, with as few single-purpose tools and appliances as possible. But there are a few kitchen tools that go above and beyond. They’re multi-purpose items that are absolutely invaluable in my kitchen, and they get used almost every day. I want to share this short list of essential items with you because they’re a great place to start when you’re a beginner cook, and if you’re an experienced cook with tons of kitchen tools and gadgets, maybe this will help you simplify. ;)
This post contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
P.S. I saved the best for last, so don’t skip the end! And make sure to share your most used, can’t-live-without kitchen tools in the comments below. Are you ready? Let’s dive right in!
1. Dutch Oven
Why I Love It
I was a little late to get on the Dutch Oven bus, but once on board I don’t know how I ever cooked without one! A Dutch Oven is a heavy duty pot with a tight fitting lid that can be used both on the stove top and in the oven. The thick walls, usually made with cast iron, make the vessel durable and provides super even heating for your food. Buy one Dutch Oven and you’ll have it for life!
How I Use It
Because this piece of cookware can be used both on the stove top and in the oven, it is probably one of my most widely used pieces of cookware. On the stove top it’s great as an all-purpose soup pot, but the super even heating it provides also makes it ideal for one-pot style meals. No more cooked rice in the center and crunchy rice around the outside! The superbly even heating also makes this pot a great choice for deep frying, where keeping a consistent oil temperature is key.
Dutch ovens are also great to use in the oven because of their size and, again, the amazingly even heat. They’re great to use for roasting and braising meat, like pot roasts or roasted chickens. The thick walls of the Dutch oven also mimic the thick crock of a slow cooker, so many slow cooker recipes can be converted to the oven by using a Dutch oven (here is a conversion chart). Dutch ovens also make the perfect steam-filled environment for baking fresh no-knead bread. You’ve got to try it!
Dutch ovens are usually constructed of cast iron, but many are also coated in enamel for easy cleanup and care. While some fancier Dutch ovens can cost hundreds of dollars, there are definitely budget-friendly models available. I have this Amazon Basics Enameled Dutch Oven, which cost less than $50, and I love it so much that I bought a second one! Lodge also makes a really affordable non-enameled cast-iron Dutch oven that is very affordable, but the bare cast iron surface will require a little more care.
All three (!!) of my Dutch ovens are 6-quart size, which has worked out perfectly for the types of recipes I make—big batches of soup, beans, large roasts, and whole loafs of bread. Smaller Dutch ovens are available, but you can usually use the larger ovens for smaller recipes just as well.
2. Sheet Pans
Why I Love Them
Because roasting vegetables is my life! Haha, just kidding, sort of. Without sheet pans I wouldn’t be able to make at least half of the recipes that I cook. Baking things in the oven on a sheet pan is one of the easiest ways to cook, and even after you become a very experienced cook, you’ll return to your trusty sheet pan time and time again for its simplicity.
Non-stick:non-stick baking sheets are quite common for non-commercial use. The non-stick coating can scratch, so make sure to avoid using metal utensils with these baking sheets. The darker color of the non-stick coating also tends to brown the bottoms of cookies and other baked goods faster, so keep that in mind.
Enamel coated:enamel coated baking sheets have a glossy enamel coating, which is naturally non-stick. They’re lightweight, easy to clean, and can be visually appealing, but the enamel coating can scratch and crack if you tend to be rough with your bakeware.
Sheet pans also come in a variety of sizes. Commercial baking sheets are often listed as full (26″x18″), half (18″x13″), or quarter (13″x9″). A commercial half sheet pan would be considered a large sheet pan for home cooking. Sheet pans sold for home cooks often just have the dimensions listed alone. I highly suggest buying a set of three sizes when just starting out, so you can have a sheet pan for every need.
3. Cheese Grater
Why I Love It
Oh the humble cheese grater. So unassuming, but oh so very useful! I love this simple tool because it’s so versatile, yet so simple, so there are no complex mechanical parts to break. It saves me time with chopping and helps me sneak more vegetables into my meals.
How I Use It
I suppose I should stop calling it a “cheese” grater because I use it for so many more things than just cheese! Instead of finely chopping vegetables, just run the vegetables across the surface of your “cheese” grater to get an almost minced texture. I most often grate carrots, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beets. Fine-holed graters are great for garlic and ginger. I also use my graters to zest citrus fruits, and grate frozen butter when making biscuits and other flakey baked goods.
Graters come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but I suggest getting at least two sizes: large and small holes. You can either buy these as separate hand-held graters, or as one box grater than has multiple surfaces. I tend to like the single graters because I find them easier to clean, and if one is in the dishwasher, the other may still be clean and ready to use.
4. Small Blender
Why I Love It
My small, single-serving blender is a surprise winner in my kitchen. I originally bought my little single-serving blender for making smoothies, but over the years have pulled it out of my cabinet for so much more. It’s small, so it doesn’t take up a lot of cabinet or countertop space, it’s easy to clean (mine can go in the dishwasher), and it’s inexpensive.
While my small blender was a cheap-o $15 dollar model that definitely didn’t last forever, I love it so much and find it so useful that each time it wore out, I repurchased it (two times over about 8 years).
Funny story: one day I convinced myself that I needed a “real” blender so I went and bought a fancy and expensive Ninja. I used that thing maybe two times and then kept going back for my little $15 wonder. :)
How I Use It
My little mighty blender does just fine for smoothies, but don’t expect Blendtec or Vitamix level results. In addition to smoothies, I use my little blender for whipping up homemade salad dressings, dips (although it’s not great for super thick dips like hummus), sauces, and puréeing other ingredients, like beans. It’s just perfect for small jobs where you don’t want to deal with or clean a giant 9 cup blender with scary sharp blades.
I can only vouch for the Hamilton Beach model that I have owned, which also doesn’t seem to be available on Amazon for its normal $15-$20 price. You can get this model at Target, Walmart, or probably any other major home goods store.
As an alternative to a small single-serving blender, an immersion blender will probably accomplish many of the same small tasks and can boast a few more uses (like blending soups right in the pot), but they do tend to be about double the price.
5. Chef’s Knife
Why I Love It
I saved the best for last! My chef’s knife is like an extension of my arm. It’s a general purpose kitchen utility knife that I use almost exclusively when cooking. In fact, I probably will never buy a full set of kitchen knives because this is practically the only knife I use (aside from a bread knife and the occasional paring knife). Chef’s knife are big and sturdy enough for large jobs, but small enough to be nimble and allow for a working at a quick pace. I absolutely, without a doubt, would not be able to function in my kitchen without it.
How I Use It
The long, broad, slightly tapered blade of a chef’s knife is great for slicing, chopping, mincing, julienning, carving, and more. If you’re not sure what type of knife to use for your task, a chef’s knife is a safe bet. Avoid chef’s knives for small jobs, like peeling or scoring, boning, or fileting.
Always make sure your chef’s knife is clean and sharp to avoid slips and injuries. Always wash by hand and avoid the dishwasher, where it can get dinged up and dulled. Keep your chef’s knife in some sort of knife holder or magnetic strip, again to avoid rubbing on other items and unintentionally damaging the blade.
Much like Dutch ovens, chef’s knives can range in price from very cheap to very expensive. I’ve used the cheapest of the cheap chef’s knives up to some very pricey “fancy” knives, and I will say that they all get the job done. My favorite chef’s knife that is the perfect balance between budget and quality is the Victorinox Fibrox 8-inch Chef’s Knife, and this is what I am currently using daily in my kitchen. I also own a Shun 8-inch Chef’s Knife that I won in a raffle, and while it is very pretty and has superb craftsmanship, I don’t find that it performs any better than my Victorinox. In fact, I prefer the weight balance of my Victorinox.
Chef’s knives come in several different lengths, materials, and weights. It’s important to choose a length that is appropriate for your hand size. With my petite hands, an 8-inch knife is perfect and allows for great control and agility. If you have larger hands, you may prefer a 10 or even 12-inch chef’s knife. If you’re serious about your knives, I suggest visiting a cutlery store where you can pick up and feel the knives in your hand and choose one that feels comfortable and natural to you.
So that’s it! Those are the five most used items in my kitchen! What are yours? Share your favorite kitchen tools and gadgets, plus how you use them, in the comments below!
Here’s another quick lunch box idea (or meal prep breakfast idea) for you! While this one isn’t completely no-cook because it contains a hard boiled egg, it is still a super easy no-reheat lunch box that you can take to work, school, or on the road. This Bagel Lunch Box includes a mini bagel, some […]
Here’s another quick lunch box idea (or meal prep breakfast idea) for you! While this one isn’t completely no-cook because it contains a hard boiled egg, it is still a super easy no-reheat lunch box that you can take to work, school, or on the road. This Bagel Lunch Box includes a mini bagel, some of my favorite Scallion Herb Cream Cheese, a handful of vegetables that go oh so well with the flavored cream cheese, and a simple hard boiled egg. It’s super simple to put together, but it makes life so much easier when your mornings are busy. Just grab a lunch box and go!
About that Cream Cheese…
I included my Scallion Herb Cream Cheese in this bagel lunch box because it has so much flavor and really adds a nice element of interest to the meal. If you don’t want to make this cream cheese you can use plain cream cheese or use a store-bought flavored cream cheese. Another nice option is to use plain cream cheese, but then bring some Everything Bagel Seasoning with you to add some extra flavor.
Other Lunch Box Add-In Ideas
If you want to substitute any of the ingredients or add to this lunch box, here are some good ideas of things that would also match well:
An orange, tangerine, or cutie
Where Did You Get Those Containers?
The divided glass meal prep containers and the small metal cups were both purchased on Amazon (links in the bottom of the recipe card below).
The Bagel Lunch Box
This Bagel Lunch Box is an easy and affordable grab and go breakfast or lunch idea, perfect for work or school.
To hard boil the eggs, place the eggs in a sauce pot and add water until the eggs are covered by one inch. Place the pot over high heat and allow the water to come up to a full boil. When it reaches a full boil, turn off the heat, place a lid on the pot, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool.
To make the scallion herb cream cheese, combine the cream cheese, parsley, cilantro, green onion, garlic powder, salt, and lemon juice in a bowl. Stir together until evenly combined.
Place one bagel in each lunch box along with ¼ of the cucumber slices, ¼ of the grape tomatoes, ¼ of the cream cheese (1 oz.), and one hard boiled egg. Refrigerate up to five days.
How to Make the Bagel Lunch Box – Step by Step Photos
To hard boil the eggs, add the eggs to a sauce pot and add enough water to cover them by one inch. Place the pot over high heat and allow the water to come up to a full boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, transfer the eggs to an ice water bath to cool.
To make the scallion herb cream cheese, combine 4 oz. cream cheese, 1 Tbsp chopped parsley, 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro, one sliced green onion, 1/16 tsp (or one pinch) garlic powder, 1/16 tsp (one pinch) salt, and ½ Tbsp lemon juice in a bowl. Stir until everything is evenly combined.
Place one bagel, one hard boiled egg, ¼ of the sliced cucumbers, ¼ of the tomatoes, and ¼ of the cream cheese (1 oz.) in each lunch box. Refrigerate up to five days.
I was freezing some of our brown bananas the other day and decided to take a few snapshots of the process and do a quick little “How to Freeze Bananas” tutorial. Why? Because while a lot of people know you can make banana bread with brown bananas instead of letting them go to waste, you […]
I was freezing some of our brown bananas the other day and decided to take a few snapshots of the process and do a quick little “How to Freeze Bananas” tutorial. Why? Because while a lot of people know you can make banana bread with brown bananas instead of letting them go to waste, you don’t always have time to make banana bread right when the bananas are ready, and sometimes you don’t have enough bananas all at one time. Freezing your overripe bananas will help you reduce your food waste even further, and makes sure you have ripe bananas on hand all the time for things like banana bread, smoothies, and more.
Can I Freeze the Bananas Whole?
You may be asking yourself, “Can I just toss the banana in the freezer, peel and all?” and the answer is yes, but that’s not the best way to do it, IMHO. While you can freeze a whole banana with the peel, the banana becomes very soft after thawing, making it very difficult to peel without making a mess. Just go ahead and peel it first and thank yourself later.
I also prefer to slice my bananas before freezing, instead of freezing the whole peeled banana, because it makes them easier to measure (thaw only what you need), faster to thaw, and easier to blend into a smoothie.
How Long do Frozen Bananas Last?
Frozen bananas will continue to brown in the freezer, just at a much slower rate than on the counter top. I find that they’re best when used within 3 months of freezing, but your milage may vary. To make sure you’ve got plenty of ways to use those frozen bananas before they get too brown and shriveled, I’ve got several recipe ideas for you listed below.
What Kind of Container Should I Use?
I like to use zip top freezer bags because they can hold a varying amount, I can remove as much air as possible, and it’s easy to write the contents and date on the front. If you prefer to not use plastic, you can freeze your bananas in glass meal prep containers or glass jars and simply add some freezer tape or a freezer label for writing the contents and date. Always write the contents and date on your frozen goods! :)
How to Keep Frozen Bananas from Turning Brown
Bananas continue to turn brown in the freezer, just like they do at room temperature, but at a much slower rate. To slow the browning almost to a halt, you can dip the frozen banana slices into lemon juice before freezing, but that’s just waaaaay too much work, IMHO. Instead, I freeze the banana slices as-is, and just make sure to use them within a few months. Nothing lasts forever and you’re already extending their life a lot by freezing them.
How to Thaw Frozen Bananas
You can use the frozen bananas in recipes while still frozen (see list below) or thaw and mash them before adding to a recipe. To thaw the frozen bananas, simply leave them out at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Or, if you froze them in a freezer bag, you can drop the freezer bag (still tightly closed) in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes.
Thawed frozen bananas will let off some liquid. You’ll want to stir this liquid into the bananas as you mash them. Mashed bananas are often used in recipes to add moisture, so you don’t want to lose that liquid that seeps from the bananas as they thaw.
What Can You Make with Frozen Bananas?
You can make so many yummy things with your frozen bananas! Here are some ideas:
Peel the banana(s) and cut them into ½-inch thick slices.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the banana slices on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Freezing the bananas individually first helps prevent them from sticking together in one large clump when frozen.
Freeze the bananas for 1-2 hours, or until solid, then transfer to an air-tight, freezer-safe container, like a freezer bag, glass meal prep container, or glass jar. Label the container with the contents and date.
For best results, use within three months.
How to Freeze Bananas – Step by Step Photos
Peel your banana(s) and slice into ½-inch thick slices.
Line a baking sheet with parchment, then lay the banana slices on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Freezing them individually like this first prevents them from sticking together in one large clump in your container later. Transfer the banana slices to the freezer and freeze for 1-2 hours, or until the slices are solid.
Once solid, transfer the banana slices from the baking sheet to an air-tight, freezer-safe container, like a freezer bag, glass meal prep container, or glass jar. Keep frozen up to 3 months for the best quality.
Continuing on with the series of no-cook lunch boxes, I bring you The Peanut Butter Lunch Box! This one is so simple, yet I may have enjoyed this one the most out of all the lunch boxes I’ve prepared so far. I don’t know if it was the sweet-salty combo, or maybe it was just […]
Continuing on with the series of no-cook lunch boxes, I bring you The Peanut Butter Lunch Box! This one is so simple, yet I may have enjoyed this one the most out of all the lunch boxes I’ve prepared so far. I don’t know if it was the sweet-salty combo, or maybe it was just nostalgia (for about two years straight in elementary school I ate peanut butter apple sandwiches for lunch), but every day I looked forward to this lunch box! So, if you’re a fan of peanut butter sandwiches, but want to change things up, give this peanut butter lunch box a try!
What’s in the Peanut Butter Lunch Box
Peanut butter is the focus of this lunch box, with both sweet and savory side items that are all delicious dipped into the creamy peanut butter. For my peanut butter lunch box I added pretzels, apple slices, celery, and dates. If you can’t eat peanut butter, this lunch box would be just as good with any other nut butter you prefer (almond, cashew, sunflower, etc.).
About Those Dates…
If you’ve never eaten dates with peanut butter before, prepare for your mind to be blown! Medjool dates are rich, sweet, sticky, and taste a little bit like caramel, so it tastes like you’re eating caramel with peanut butter! It’s the perfectly rich and sweet natural dessert.
You’ll find Medjool dates in the produce department of most major grocery stores (scroll down to the photos below the recipe card to see what type of container they come in). They usually have a small pit inside, but they are easily pulled open with your fingers, and then you can simply remove the pit before smearing that creamy peanut butter all over the date.
How to Keep the Apple Slices Fresh
As most people know, apples begin to brown after they are sliced in response to exposure to oxygen. This brown color is a simple chemical reaction and does not indicate that the apple has gone “bad.” To help slow the browning, keep the apple slices bunched closely together to reduce the exposure to oxygen on the cut surfaces (see photos). You can also sprinkle a little lemon juice over your apple slices to further slow the browning, if you prefer. Even without lemon juice, my apple slices only browned a very small amount over four days in the refrigerator.
What Containers Do You Use?
For this lunch box I used a set of divided glass containers that I purchased on Amazon (linked below in the bottom of the recipe card). The dividers don’t go all the way up to the lid, so they don’t keep liquid items separate, but for solids or super thick stuff like peanut butter, it works just fine.
The Peanut Butter Lunch Box
This peanut butter lunch box is an easy no-cook lunch idea for school, work, picnics, or road trips! No reheating needed!
Wash and slice the celery into sticks. Slice each apple in half, remove the core, then cut into slices. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apple slices to slow browning, if desired.
Add 3 tablespoons of peanut butter to each container. Add about 15 pretzels to each container, along with ½ an apple, some celery sticks, and two dates. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate up to five days.
I used natural style peanut butter, but you can use whichever type you prefer, or another type of nut butter.
I used Granny Smith Apples for this lunch box, but you can use any variety of apples you like. I included ½ an apple with each box. Slice the apples in half, then remove the core (I used a sharp measuring spoon, but you could use something like a melon baller as well). Slice each apple half into slices. Keeping the slices close together prevents oxygen exposure, which will slow the browning. You can also sprinkle a little lemon juice over the slices to further help slow the browning.
Medjool dates are usually sold in a container like this, but sometimes I see them sold loose by the pound, which is really nice when you only need a few! I see them at just about every grocery store now, so they are widely available. You’ll find them in the produce department, usually not refrigerated.
To eat the dates, simply pull them open with your hands. They are soft and sticky, so they pull open very easily. You’ll find a small pit in the center (you can see the pit on the left side). Remove the pit.
Smear a little peanut butter on each half of the date and enjoy! This combo is super rich and sweet, so you’ll only need one or two! Enjoy!
Continuing on with my no-cook lunch box series, today I bring you The Cheese Board Lunch Box! This one goes out to everyone who is perfectly happy nibbling on a charcuterie board for dinner, instead of as an appetizer to dinner. 😉 Just be careful, this lunch box is going to tempt you to drink […]
Continuing on with my no-cook lunch box series, today I bring you The Cheese Board Lunch Box! This one goes out to everyone who is perfectly happy nibbling on a charcuterie board for dinner, instead of as an appetizer to dinner. ;) Just be careful, this lunch box is going to tempt you to drink a glass of wine with lunch!
Where Are the Vegetables??
I know, I know. I’m usually a vegetable-with-every meal type of person, but I think it’s entirely possible to have a cheese board lunch box and still keep balance in your day. Try eating a veggie heavy breakfast bowl, like my Vegetable Breakfast Scrambles, and make sure you include a veggie heavy dinner, like a stir fry, soup, or meal-worthy salad. Or hey, you can always just pack a side salad to go with this box for lunch. :)
What Else Can I Add to My Cheese Board Lunch Box?
As with all of these no-cook lunch box ideas, this Cheese Board Lunch Box is very flexible! Here are some other items you can include with or in place of any of the ingredients I put into my box:
A small container of your favorite jam
A small container of jam
A small container of pesto
Dried cherries or cranberries
Sliced bell peppers
Other Meat Options
I used salami in my cheese board lunch box, but there are so many options with this one. You can use other cured meats, like prosciutto, capicola, soppressata. If all of that is too fancy or too hard to find, regular deli meat is just as great in this box! Roll up the slices into little “cigars” to make the presentation extra pretty and you’ll still feel like you’re eating an extra special lunch.
Wrap the Crackers for Freshness
To keep your crackers nice and crunchy, you’ll probably want to wrap the crackers in an extra fold-top sandwich bag or waxed paper to keep the moisture from the other ingredients out. I didn’t do this (because I’m lazy) and my crackers got a little soft, but I still enjoyed the box quite a bit over the next four days.
What Containers Do You Use?
These containers are made by Pyrex and are my favorite meal prep containers. While they’re not divided, the single compartment makes them very versatile. Also, the lid is simple, snaps on, and has no moving parts to break. There is a link to these containers in the bottom of the recipe card below.
The Cheese Board Lunch Box
This easy no-cook lunch idea is perfect for the cheese lovers of the world! The Cheese Board Lunch Box makes a meal out of savory nibbles.
These are all the ingredients I used for the cheese board lunch box (this is all from ALDI). You can use whatever type of cheese or crackers that you like. I chose sharp cheddar and got a box of assorted crackers. Check the list earlier in the post if you want ideas for other items to include.
Slice the cheese and wrap groups of five crackers in a sandwich baggie or waxed paper (I skipped wrapping my crackers). Divide all the ingredients between four containers.
Refrigerate your cheese board lunch boxes until you’re ready to eat, or up to five days! Enjoy!
The older I get the more I love meals where I can just throw whatever I have into one pot, bowl, or skillet. I’ve noticed that these “easy dinners” usually fall into five distinct categories: stir fries, bowl meals, curries, soups and stews, or salads. It doesn’t matter what ingredients you have on hand or […]
The older I get the more I love meals where I can just throw whatever I have into one pot, bowl, or skillet. I’ve noticed that these “easy dinners” usually fall into five distinct categories: stir fries, bowl meals, curries, soups and stews, or salads. It doesn’t matter what ingredients you have on hand or what you happened to get at the farmer’s market or in your CSA that week, you can usually toss just about anything into one of these easy vegan dinners.
And guess what? If you have some family members who are vegan and some that aren’t, it’s super easy to cook a meat on the side and add it to individual portions of any of these meals!
Stir fry is the ultimate use-whatever-you-have meal. All you need is a hot pan, a few handfuls of vegetables or proteins, a simple sauce, and some noodles or rice to spoon to soak up all that delciousness. Ultimately, the stir fry is all about the stir fry sauce. Check out these simple vegan stir fry recipes to explore some different simple stir fry sauces:
Spicy Coconut Vegetable Stir Fry
This rich and spicy coconut vegetable stir fry is adaptable to whatever vegetables are lingering in your fridge, making it a great sweep the kitchen recipe!
The “bowl meal” formula is easy. Base (grain or greens) + protein + vegetable(s) + sauce. Every bowl is a complete meal, no need to plan side dishes. And an added bonus: bowl meals are great for meal prepping, so tomorrow’s lunch is covered! Here are some of my favorite vegan bowl meals:
Sweet Chili Stir Fried Tofu Bowls
Sweet Chili Tofu Bowls are an easy, fresh, and flavorful vegan weeknight dinner, packed with vibrant colors and flavors. Perfect for meal prep!
Curries are another “it’s all about the sauce” meal. As long as you have a delicious curry sauce, you can pour it over any vegetable or protein and your meal is going to be awesome. I like to make my curries with either a tomato based sauce or a creamy coconut based sauce. Both varieties are super easy, flavorful, and versatile! Try these simple vegan curries:
Creamy Coconut Curry Lentils with Spinach
These rich, creamy, and earthy Coconut Curry Lentils are an easy and delicious vegan option for dinner or weekly meal prep!
Salads aren’t just for side dishes! Pile ’em high with lots of vegetables and whatever protein you prefer, and you’ve got a filling meal with more color, flavor, and texture than most people get in one day. Get creative with your salad greens, too. In addition to the traditional mixed greens, spinach, or Romaine, you can also build a great salad on kale, cabbage, or parsley. Beef up your salad by adding a grain or a handful of nuts for extra filling power. Try these meal-worthy vegan salads:
Roasted Vegetable Salad Meal Prep
These Roasted Vegetable Salad Meal Prep boxes are an easy, no-reheat, plan-ahead lunch option that will help you get your daily vegetables!
Soups and stews are the cold-weather counterpart to my big ol’ summer salads. They’re always very quick and easy to make, they don’t require any difficult cooking skills, and they are so flexible. Plus, because they’re usually large-batch recipes, they’re great for busy people. Soups and stews make great leftovers and often freeze well. So if you’re a busy bee but want to still eat meals full of flavor and texture, check out some of these vegan soups and stews:
Vegetable Barley Soup
Loaded with colorful vegetables and filling pearled barley, this Vegetable Barley Soup is a healthy, freezer-friendly staple recipe for winter!
Are y’all ready for the next installment in the no-cook lunch box series? The Hummus Lunch Box is a classic, one that I’m sure many of you have made before, but it definitely deserves its own mention in the series because it is flexible and always a pleaser. I’ve got a few different ways you […]
Are y’all ready for the next installment in the no-cook lunch box series? The Hummus Lunch Box is a classic, one that I’m sure many of you have made before, but it definitely deserves its own mention in the series because it is flexible and always a pleaser. I’ve got a few different ways you can eat or serve this lunch box listed below, so even if you’ve made this before, make sure to go check out the alternate ideas!
What’s in the Hummus Lunch Box:
Hummus (of course), kalamata olives, cucumber, grape tomatoes, and pita bread. I love this lunch box because of its simplicity, it requires so little prep, and I just like “snacky” finger foods. The only prep work I had to do was slicing the cucumber and draining the jar of olives! For the sake of convenience, and because ALDI has very inexpensive hummus, I used store bought hummus this time. But if you want to make your own hummus or want to experiment with different hummus flavors, try my homemade hummus recipe (four flavors).
As I mentioned in intro, there are a few different ways you can eat this lunch box. The obvious way is to eat it in a “snacky” fashion, eating a little of this, a little of that, etc. But here are a couple other options:
Make it into a pita sandwich. Instead of cutting the pita bread into triangles like in my photos, leave your pita cut in half, then when you sit down for lunch smear the hummus inside, add some cucumber slices, olives, and tomatoes, and eat it like a sandwich!
Make it into a salad. Pack a separate bowl of mixed greens, then when you sit down to lunch, add the vegetables and hummus on top and eat it as a giant sandwich! You might also want to some dressing on the side (I suggest a vinaigrette, like Greek dressing, Italian, or Caesar dressing).
Alternate Ingredient Ideas
Just like all the no-cook lunch boxes in this series, this hummus lunch box is very flexible. If you don’t like some of the ingredients I included in mine, here are a few other ideas:
Pita chips or pretzel crackers in place of the pita bread
This lunch box holds up very well to refrigeration, so it will probably keep about 5 days in the refrigerator, depending on the freshness of your ingredients when the boxes are made and the conditions inside your refrigerator.
What Containers Do You Use?
I got these divided glass meal prep containers on Amazon. You can find a link to the product in the bottom of the recipe card below. (P.S. these containers came three to a set and this recipe makes FOUR lunch boxes, so I ate the fourth portion on a plate the day that I packed them. 😄)
The Hummus Lunch Box
This Hummus Lunch Box is a cold lunch classic. With almost zero prep work, this is the fastest, easiest no-cook lunch around.
The heat is getting to me, y’all! So last week I sat down and brainstormed some no-cook lunch boxes, or meal preps that I can keep in the fridge for quick meals over the next couple of months. I’ll be posting these lunch box ideas over the next few weeks, the first being this Pizza […]
The heat is getting to me, y’all! So last week I sat down and brainstormed some no-cook lunch boxes, or meal preps that I can keep in the fridge for quick meals over the next couple of months. I’ll be posting these lunch box ideas over the next few weeks, the first being this Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box. These easy no-cook lunch boxes make great “brown bag” lunches for the work week, especially for those of you who don’t have access to a refrigerator or microwave during your work day. Just pop one of these in an insulated lunch pack and you’re good to go!
This one goes out to everyone who grew up eating those pizza lunchables. ;)
There is no “one size fits all” lunch box
We all need different amounts of food, so make sure you flex your lunch box up or down to fit your appetite. Here are some other things you can add to this pizza roll up lunch box to beef it up, if you need more!
Add an apple, orange, or yogurt cup on the side for dessert
Add an extra layer of turkey, ham, or salami sliced deli meat to the roll up
Spread ricotta cheese on the tortilla in place of pesto (option drizzle pesto on the ricotta and have both!)
Add a few banana pepper rings inside the roll up
Pack a simple green salad on the side
There are an endless number of toppings you could add to your roll up, but just be careful with “chunky” ingredients that may make it hard to keep the roll up closed.
How long do the lunch boxes last?
You can keep these lunch boxes in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Longevity may vary depending on the conditions inside your refrigerator and freshness of your ingredients.
What containers do you use?
These are Pyrex glass containers, and small metal dipping cups (both are linked in the bottom of the recipe card below). I have the dipping cups in the glass containers in the photos, but they are actually taller than the container and would need to be packed outside the glass container for it to be closed properly.
The Pizza Roll Up Lunch Box
These easy pizza roll up lunch boxes are a great no-cook lunch idea for your work week. No reheating required for this lunch meal prep!
Spread 1 Tbsp pesto over the surface of each tortilla (it does not need to cover the entire surface. Lay two slices of provolone over one half of each tortilla, followed by about 9 pepperoni. Lastly, add one handful of fresh spinach to each tortilla.
Roll each tortilla up, trying to keep the roll as tight as possible. With the seams facing down, slice the rolls into one-inch sections. Place the sliced roll-ups in your meal prep container. Pack them closely together to keep them from coming unrolled.
Slice the green bell peppers into strips. Divide the bell pepper strips between the four containers.
Fill four small containers with 2 Tbsp pizza sauce each. Refrigerate your roll ups, bell peppers, and pizza sauce for up to five days.
How to Make Pizza Roll Up Lunch Boxes – Step by Step Photos
Spread 1 Tbsp of pesto over each tortilla. Lay two pieces of provolone and about 9 pepperoni on one half of the tortilla.
Sprinkle one handful of spinach over each tortilla.
Roll up the tortilla, making sure to roll as tightly as possible. Slice the roll into one-inch sections. The two end pieces might not stay rolled, but as long as the roll is seam-side down, the rest should stay rolled.
Place the sliced roll-ups in your containers. Cut two green bell peppers into strips and divide them among the four containers. Place 2 Tbsp pizza sauce into four small containers. Pack up your boxes and refrigerate up to 5 days!
Whether you call it a “make-ahead breakfast” or “breakfast meal prep,” having breakfast already made and ready to be eaten on busy mornings is a lifesaver. Start your week off right by taking a few moments to prepare one of these make-ahead breakfast recipes on Sunday night, so you can have a fast, satisfying breakfast […]
Whether you call it a “make-ahead breakfast” or “breakfast meal prep,” having breakfast already made and ready to be eaten on busy mornings is a lifesaver. Start your week off right by taking a few moments to prepare one of these make-ahead breakfast recipes on Sunday night, so you can have a fast, satisfying breakfast all week long!
Bonus: some of these recipes are freezer-friendly, so you can prep more than just 4-5 days worth at a time!
Grab and go breakfast ideas for busy mornings:
Country Breakfast Bowls
Country breakfast bowls combine roasted potatoes, scrambled eggs, salsa, and cheese for an easy freezer-friendly make ahead breakfast meal prep!
Tastes like you’re eating a cookie for breakfast, but really it’s hearty oats with a lot less sugar than a cookie. You can freeze or refrigerate your portions of baked oatmeal, and it can be eaten reheated or cold!
Make Ahead Microwave Breakfast Scrambles
Make Ahead Microwave Breakfast Scrambles make a fast, easy, and healthy breakfast when you’re short on time!
These are basically the homemade version of those little “just add an egg” cups that you can find at the grocery store. Make them with your favorite meat and vegetables, then just add a fresh egg, stir, and microwave each morning!
Blueberry Almond Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl
Creamy cottage cheese, juicy blueberries, crunchy almonds, and a little drizzle of honey make a breakfast bowl that tastes surprisingly like blueberry cheesecake!
Naturally sweet applesauce and frozen blueberries provide all the sweetness you need in these cold and refreshing overnight oats. Just add your favorite milk and refrigerate overnight or up to four days!
Savory Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowl
Creamy cottage cheese, fresh crunchy vegetables, an extra shot of protein from a hard boiled egg, and a little black pepper to kick things up make this easy, protein-filled breakfast!
If you’ve ever wanted to eat apple pie for breakfast, you’ve got to try these overnight oats. They seriously taste like apple pie, but they have no added sugar whatsoever. And you can eat them hot or cold, your choice!
Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal
Fresh fruit and rich, custardy oats make this baked oatmeal a filling and flavorful "fix ahead" breakfast. Just heat and eat each morning!
Cold and refreshing layers of creamy yogurt, soft soaked oats, juicy tropical fruit, and a light sprinkle of coconut. Grab a spoon and a jar as you pass through the kitchen on your way to work, and you’re good to go!
What are your favorite make-ahead breakfast recipes? Share yours in the comments below!