It's several days after Thanksgiving, and I'm still very much in holiday eating mode. We ate leftovers for every meal on Friday, switched it up with tacos on Saturday, and ordered pizza on Sunday because we still didn't feel like cooking. The next few days for lunch will probably be more leftovers, because I can't see beyond the mountain of plastic-wrapped mashed potatoes and stuffing in the fridge to even try and dig for a fresh vegetable.
When I do break free and get back to some type of normalcy, I know exactly what I'll be eating to help me reset. This vegetarian cauliflower rice bowl is packed with all my favorite healthy foods, and it's the perfect meal to enjoy throughout December.
The Cheap & Easy Lunch Bowl I'll Be Meal Prepping All Month
After cooking a giant Thanksgiving meal and spending the following days indulging, I want a lunch that's fresh, healthy, quick to pull together, and easy on the wallet — after all, I have holiday gifts to buy!
This lunch bowl checks all those boxes. Everything roasts together in the oven: big cubes of sweet potato, crunchy pepitas, and even oversized crumbles of feta, which take on this wonderful chewy-creamy texture when warmed. Instead of sautéing the cauliflower rice (buy it pre-riced to save time), you'll also throw it into the oven. Tossing it with turmeric gives it a gorgeous golden hue and a slightly earthy flavor.
While everything's roasting, you'll mix up a fresh bean salad: a can of chickpeas, a handful of herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, and a squeeze of lime juice. Pile onto the roasted veg, then enjoy for lunch right after it's made or divvy into lunch containers and eat throughout the week. You don't even need to futz with a dressing — just drizzle with more oil and a squeeze a lime juice before diving in.
The flexibility of this recipe makes it extra budget-friendly. Use whatever root vegetable you have on hand or is on sale at the grocery store. Buy pepitas in the bulk section, or swap out another nut or seed that's already stashed in your pantry. It's delicious any way you make it.
Cauliflower Rice Lunch Bowl with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas
Prep time: 20 minutes ; cooking time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 pounds
root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, or a combination, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
1 1/2 teaspoons
kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
feta cheese, drained
fresh or frozen cauliflower rice, such as Trader Joe's
1 (15.5-ounce) can
chickpeas, drained and rinsed
coarsely-chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
Finely grated zest of 2 medium limes
Juice of 2 medium limes, plus more wedges for serving
medium avocado, pitted and quartered
Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 425°F. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, then season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and several grinds of black pepper. Toss to combine, then arrange into an even layer. Roast on the lower rack until beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
Flip the sweet potatoes and push them to one side. Add the pumpkin seeds to the now-empty portion of the baking sheet and crumble the feta into large pieces over the sweet potatoes. Place the cauliflower rice (if using frozen, break up any clumps first), turmeric, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and several grinds of black pepper on a second rimmed baking sheet and toss until evenly combined. Spread into an even layer.
Place the sweet potatoes on the upper rack and the cauliflower rice on the lower rack. Roast until the pumpkin seeds are toasted, the sweet potatoes are golden-brown, and the feta is warmed through, 7 to 10 minutes more. Meanwhile, place the chickpeas, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a medium bowl and toss until evenly coated; set aside.
For each serving: Transfer 1/4 of the rice, 1/4 of the sweet potato and feta mixture, and 1/4 of the chickpea mixture into a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 of the pepitas and top with a piece of the avocado (peel the avocado if eating immediately). Drizzle with more olive oil and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with a lime wedge.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.