Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Meal Prep In Your Step - Lunch Salads

As the school year has progressed I've started to get a little bit lazier when it comes to packing my lunches. While I know that it is so much easier to do this the night before there are some mornings that I am still doing this while taking my final sips of coffee before heading out the door. I've come to see the benefits of having some simple go-tos that don't take a lot of prep work but will be filling and have me excited for lunch when the time comes around. 

Had you asked my parents when my brother and I were younger if we would ever like salads they would have told you no and mentioned something about our aversion to anything green. Fast forward to college and suddenly I came to love salads and tend to eat one for lunch about 3 times a week. Salads are so easy to prep in advance and because of the different dressings or toppings that you can use it is easy to mix them up enough to not get tired of them! 

Lately my go-to salad has been the one pictured above. Kale is always my go-to lettuce when making salads since I like the taste and the crunch it provides. From there, I cook week potatoes and chicken to put on top. And, I recently discovered some delicious candied pecans (which I've made before but are so much easier to buy) at Trader Joe's that add something sweet to the combination! Below you will find how I season and cook the sweet potatoes and chicken before tossing everything in and stacking my salads in the fridge to grab on the way out the door in the morning. 

I purchase pretty much all of my ingredients from Trader Joe's and am a big fan of their frozen chicken tenderloins and bags of sweet potatoes (cue my dad laughing since he thinks it is the craziest thing to buy a bag of sweet potatoes). 

For the chicken:
I pretty much follow the directions on the back of the bag of frozen chicken when it comes to cooking this. Most weeks I'll make 7 or 8 tenders and cook them in a glass pan. I like to spray the pan before I start and then put a little olive oil on the bottom as well. When it comes to seasoning I tend to stick to Trader Joe's Seasoning Salt and their Everything But The Bagel Seasoning. While this may seem like an odd combination for chicken it is delicious and tastes so good on this salad. I flip the chicken when it is about halfway finished cooking and season the other side as well for optimal flavor.

For the sweet potatoes: 
I start by rinsing and then cutting the sweet potatoes into cubes. I place these cut up pieces of sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and a bit of olive oil. While I am preparing the potatoes I set the oven temperature to around 400 for it to preheat. Once I've chopped up the sweet potatoes (usually it depends on the size of the sweet potatoes but I think I tend to do 3 or 4 at once) I toss them around in the olive oil on my cookie sheet. I season these with Trader Joe's Seasoning Salt as well and often add some YEP! seasoning that I pick up from Greenville's Farmer's Market. I tend to toss them once while they are cooking and take them out after anywhere between 15 and 18 minutes based on how large the pieces are.

After everything has cooled off I go ahead and put the kale, chicken, sweet potatoes, and candied pecans into containers. In smaller containers or ziplock bags I put the dressing I use. My favorite dressing for this salad is Brianna's Home Style Real French Vinaigrette Dressing (it has a picture of an artichoke on the front). A little goes a long way with it but it's helpful to go ahead and put some of the dressing in easy to grab containers as well so that that does not slow me down in the morning! 

With a little prep on the weekend I am set for a number of weekdays with this delicious combination! If you have any recipes you think I might like definitely let me know as I'd love to continue to mix up my lunches and dinners! 

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