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We are now officially in the time of year known as “the holiday season.” You can tell it has arrived by the uptick in events on your social calendar and ever-present cookies and treats in the office break room.
During these last few weeks of the calendar year, it can be increasingly hard to do things like get to the gym regularly and ensure that you’re having healthy, homemade dinners. I can’t help you with the gym issue, but I do have a suggestion as to how to get a meal on the table in the midst of the weeknight holiday rush.
Steal a couple of hours on Sunday and prep a couple make-ahead meals. If all you have to do on Tuesday is boil some water and reheat some vegetables, you’re far more likely to resist the siren call of takeout.
One of my favorite make-ahead meals is the Hot and Sticky Noodle Bowls from Rachael Ray’s show Week in a Day. You season and cook some chicken and vegetables, then cool them and stash them in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, just cook some spaghetti noodles, reheat the chicken mix and toss it all together. Truly, it’s easier than ordering pizza and should become part of your Weekender routine.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Once you get the formula for this dish down, you’ll find that you can mix it up any which way. Using beef or shrimp in place of the chicken is nice (though I’d cook the shrimp the night I was going to serve because it doesn’t keep particularly well).
— If you like to bulk up your meals with vegetables, drop in some pre-chopped broccoli florets with the pasta halfway through it’s cooking time. It’s an easy way to increase your fiber and veggie intake without any more work.
— For those of you who are avoiding gluten, either get yourself some brown rice noodles or make this dish with steamed rice.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.