Fall is the time of year when things get busy — really, really busy. At first, I embrace it, especially if I've had a good, properly lazy summer. Then November arrives and I find myself thinking Thanksgiving is coming! How is that possible? And once Thanksgiving is here, it's time to think about Christmas and all my little nieces and nephews who are not-so-secretly hoping for light sabers and trucks and tiaras.
Maintaining my sanity and making sure I eat relatively well comes down to one thing I do on the weekend. If I don't do it, I'm definitely calling wine and cheese "dinner" more often than I want.
The one thing I do for a week of healthy eating is make a big batch of grains.
It's not always the same grain; I like quinoa, farro, and brown rice, but sometimes it's white rice if that's all I've got. The important thing, though, is that I make a big enough portion to last the entire week because I know that if it's in the fridge, a quick and easy dinner that doesn't include cheese or popcorn is 100 percent possible.
Get cooking: Make One of These 10 Grains & Legumes on Sunday
3 Ways I Turn Grains into Dinner
1. Roasted Vegetables + Grain
My very favorite way to turn grains into a meal is by adding a heaping portion of roasted vegetables. Roasting a tray of vegetables, piling it on top of some quinoa, and adding maybe a squeeze of lemon feels satisfying and healthy and takes basically zero effort to make. Last week it was broccoli and onions tossed with olive oil, chili flakes, salt, and pepper, but it can really be anything I have in my vegetable drawer — especially if it's seen better days.
2. Frozen Vegetables + Grain
I like to keep a bag of frozen vegetables on hand, usually shelled edamame or peas. Those can go directly into my cast iron pan with garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. Throw some brown rice right in there and dinner is done in less than 15 minutes.
3. Beans + Grain
If my refrigerator and my freezer are looking pretty spartan, I look to my pantry, where I always have a can of beans or two. I love Goya black beans, cooked with chicken stock, garlic, onions, and cumin. I like them soupy so I can just ladle it over my cold grains without bothering to reheat them. If I have a few sprigs of cilantro, a half of an avocado, or some salsa to throw on top, it's a good night.
What's your smartest strategy for getting healthy, homemade dinners on the table?