One recipe, five ways
Meal prep remixing!
How’s it hanging in your kitchen? Abigail and I had a ton of fun cooking up a storm (literally, thanks Henri) with a lovely group during yesterday’s oven-free meal prep class. Cooking through this particular menu got me thinking about one really unique and important thing we do during each class: all our menus are planned so that things mix and match well together as is, but (!) we also spend a good amount of time and effort outlining how our students can remix dishes into meals that feel completely new and interesting. Think: turning a light, bright lentil salad into a hearty, filling soup with just a few additional ingredients or transforming a pasta salad into a baked ziti in a snap.
We do this because one of the chief concerns (watch my latest YouTube video where I address various meal prep questions here!) I hear mentioned about meal prep is fear of getting bored of a dish and tossing it instead of eating it. And that concern is real! I’m personally very prone to getting bored of eating the same thing over and over again, so the ability to remix meal prepped recipes into new dishes that feel fresh and interesting over the course of the week is absolutely key to my own meal prep repertoire.
So for this week’s tip, I’m gonna share one of my favorite recipes from yesterdays class and give you a peek at what those remix recommendations look like. I’ll run down how you can easily make five completely different meals with just this one recipe and a couple simple additional ingredients—let’s get into it:
Here’s the recipe for our Veggie-Loaded Taco Topping:
Yield: 4-6 servings
2 Tbsp neutral oil (like canola oil or sunflower oil)
1 large yellow or sweet onion, medium diced
1 bell pepper, medium diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, medium diced
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp ground chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika (or ground chipotle)
¼ to ½ tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 lb ground turkey or chicken, (or 1 14oz block extra firm or firm tofu, drained and crumbled)
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once oil shimmers on the pan, stir in the onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and salt. Cook until the veggies have softened (about 5 minutes).
Use a large wooden spoon to stir in the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and tomato paste and cook until the spices are fragrant and the tomato paste is starting to darken (about 2 minutes).
Add the ground turkey or chicken (or crumbled tofu) to the pan and use the back of your spoon to break up the protein and spread around the pan. Allow to brown and cook through. Serve as tacos or taco salad of choice.
Meal Prep Storage
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat, microwave in 1 minute increments until heated through, or heat on the stove with a dash of extra oil to revive texture.
Psst: you can watch me recipe test this dish in this video.
And here are the ways to easily remix it into five completely different meals:
Use it as a quesadilla filling. To your tortilla of choice, add a layer of cheese, a layer of taco topping, and another layer of cheese. Top with an additional tortilla, then add to a buttered pan over medium, flipping after each side is golden brown.
Make taco-ish fried rice! For two servings, add about a cup of cooked rice to an oiled pan over medium high. Scoop in about a cup of taco topping. And this might sound odd, but go with me here: add 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce and a few spoonfuls of salsa of choice to the pan and stir while frying. Optional: scramble an egg in with the rice to really kick it up a notch. Adjust to taste with additional soy sauce or some salt and serve topped with sour cream/avocado/salsa/whatever your heart desires.
It would be weird for me not to mention that this taco topping can go in the soft or hard shell tacos of your choosing, don’tcha think? Make tacos!
I love using this for taco salad (and you know I chop it) by serving the taco topping on top of a bed of romaine, then adding rice, a little salsa, hot sauce, cheese, and maybe even some crumbled tortilla chips. Bonus idea! Make a burrito with similar ingredients to your taco salad, but wrap it in a large tortilla. Here’s a great tutorial for burrito wrapping if your technique could use a little work.
And finally, my favorite option of all: NACHOS! Line a baking sheet with parchment and a layer of tortilla chips. Top with as much shredded cheese as your heart desires (we like a lot over at Fresh Erica HQ!) and bake at 350 until the cheese has mostly melted. Add the taco topping and return to the oven for 5 minutes so the topping heats but doesn’t dry out. Top the nachos with toppings of choice: salsa, chopped romaine, sour cream, hot sauce, minced onion, and avocado are some of my go-tos.
Honestly, I could go on and on (taco casserole, seven layer dip, and a tortilla soup-inspired situation all come to mind) which just goes to show you how truly creative you can get with your prepped food! Thinking of new ways to enjoy an already made dish is just a muscle you have to learn to flex, then practice over time. And as with any new skill, you’ll only improve as you practice. Hopefully this recipe and list will provide you with a good place for you to start if you need a little assistance in the meal prep remix area!
Okay, pal, that’s it for me today. I hope you have a lovely, well-fed (and perhaps taco-topping-filled?) week ahead.
With love and a tip of my chef’s hat,
Want more? I’m so flattered! You can also follow me on Instagram, pop over to my YouTube channel, take meal prep classes with me, or check out my blog where you can find my tips-laden e-book collection.