Meal Prep Ideas—The How-To of Making it
Busy weekdays can result in compromising on food choices.
And, it doesn't need to be that way. Prepping meals ahead of time is a great way to enjoy home cooked food made with fresh, seasonal produce. The idea is to have variety of dishes available for when you need them.
You can create individually-assembled meals that are packed and ready to grab from the fridge or have the main elements of a meal waiting for you to assemble quickly. Often some combination of the two is what works best.
Here are some tips for getting started:
Keep it fresh and keep it simple.
Meal prep is not a great time to tryout complicated recipes. In fact, we like to incorporate some shortcuts while highlighting fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eden Organic Beans in a can, rather than soaking and cooking your own. And,
Lundberg Rice makes an organic brown jasmine rice that can be ready in just 90 seconds.
We also carry exotic rice blends from
Seeds of Change that boost flavor with minimal effort. Try their Spanish Style with bell peppers and corn, Quinoa and Brown Rice with garlic, and Seven Whole Grain Rice.
Think about what is the most challenging meal of the day, and start there. Where would you like to improve your food choices? Some of us are too exhausted to cook dinner, while others run out the door without a proper breakfast.
Throughout the course of your week, gather recipes and ideas for meals so it is easy to make a shopping list. (We have some favorites posted below.) Then then pick a day when you will spend a few hours getting ready for the week. Assemble your ingredients and get a sense of how long each dish will take to prepare.
These are important. One thing to consider is if a dish is going to be reheated. (Is your container microwave safe?) We have
Ball Jars in the store that are great for reheating, and a Mason jar salad is a beautiful thing: just put the dressing in the bottom and add your veggies. This way the lettuce stays fresh, and all you have to do is shake the jar to dress the salad.
If you are looking for non-breakable, it is so important that the seal is tight. We swear by
Ziplock Twist n Loc (with the blue lids) because they don't leak in your bag. And, we carry
Full Circle reusable lunch and snack bags (in two sizes) to help cut back on disposable plastic.
Make a few options for each meal. The trick is to have a variety of dishes available to avoid repetition.
Use your freezer. Most leftovers are only good in the fridge for about 4 days. So, if you make more than you can use, freeze some for another week. And, if you are making a soup, a casserole, or even burgers double the recipe and freeze—you won't always have time to prep because some weeks are too busy.
If you enjoy breakfast smoothies, prep individual baggies with just enough fruit for one smoothie and keep a variety in the fridge. Likewise, keep hard-boiled eggs around for extra protein.
Go easy. This is about making your life less stressful. So, cut corners when you need to. And, remember we have a plethora delicious, ready-to eat meals at the store. So, don't hesitate to mix in some frozen entrees, some of the many Grab n' Go meals in our refrigerator case, or a delicious selection from our hot bar.
A Staff Favorite
Brentwood Corn is a staff pick—every summer.
Summer is in here, and local Brentwood corn is plentiful and delicious. It’s picked each day, arriving at our market fresh, without losing sweetness.
The rich, Brentwood agricultural soil and temperate climate of the Delta create perfectgrowing conditions for high-quality corn on the cob. We now have both yellow and white corn at the store. You can’t get better than this!
Now is the time to indulge—straight off the grill or stovetop with plenty of butter and salt. Or try it in one of our favorite recipes…
Elote (Mexican Grilled Corn)
A Cookbook Recommendation
It's 6 PM, and you have nothing planned for dinner. Again. If you're like many folks, including blogger and author Chungah Rhee, this happens more often than you care to admit! Wanting to regain control of her health and eating habits, Chungah turned to meal prep: the secret weapon that keeps everyone from celebrities and athletes to busy parents and young professionals on-track and eating well.
Chungah quickly found that meal prep is an amazing way to save time and money and to keep you and your family eating healthy all week long. By taking the time to plan your meals, prep ingredients, and do some cooking ahead of time, it's easy to have perfectly portioned healthy options at your fingertips for any time of the day.
Inside are Chungah's go-to recipes-including some favorites from the blog. You'll find inspiration for delectable protein-packed breakfasts, energy-boosting snacks, and slimmed-down comfort food favorites-none of which sacrifice flavor. Who wouldn't be enticed by a 205-calorie Breakfast Croissant Sandwich or an under-500-calorie Mason Jar Lasagna? She also arms readers with dozens of tools for making habit changes actually stick. This indispensable cookbook is sure to help you live a healthier (and more delicious) life.
From our blog, The Kitchen Table
Best Laid Plans
I have recently become a food prepper. More accurately I should say I have tried to become a food prepper. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks. In an effort for my husband and me to eat healthy, better-portioned, balanced meals during the week (mainly for lunch), I have jumped on the food prepping bandwagon. The kids are into it too, but it’s mainly for us old folks. Here’s what I have learned…
Having a variety of pre-portioned meal choices that ready for you to grab on the way out the door to go to work is fantastic. Finding different recipes for tasty meals is easier than ever because there are some great cookbooks out there and not all of them are Keto books. (I’m not doing Keto. Too restrictive. I’m just making healthier choices.) Even better, the variety of flavors is unlimited. In fact, for those people like me who prefer a bit more International flavor, there are so many options to choose from. Eating this way also forces you to find the freshest ingredients possible and you will be proud to look into your shopping cart and see all of the fruits and vegetables. (Gold star for you!)
I have also learned that having good meal containers is a must. It is also a pain in the neck. Good reusable containers are great…but you have to store them when not in use. I don’t know what it’s like in your house but in my house, the “Tupperware/Gladware” situation is a nightmare. And, while I didfind some really great containers on Amazon, I have now only added fuel to the dumpster fire that is my food storage predicament.
Another thing I learned? Food prepping takes time. Part of the reason I wanted to get into this was to save time on the busiest days during the week and while I knew that to do it the way I wanted would require an entire Sunday to get everything ready, the reality is I don’t always have an entire Sunday. Doing it on a slow night during the week is an option. But, again those are few and far between. There’s a reason that people out there have meal prep businesses and are doing very well at it.
So my conclusion about my little experiment is this: Food prepping is totally worth it—but not if it causes you even more stress. My plan for going forward will be to prep when I can, freeze when I can, and not be beholden to the perfect vision of multiple meal choices for multiple days in an organized refrigerator that resides in the clean kitchen that lives in my head.
This recipe for Turkey Burrito Bowls is one that I plan to make whenever I can regardless of food prep planning because it’s darn good...
From our blog, The Cocktail Post
Bucks are long drinks made with some sort of liquor and ginge rale. And, they are excellent hot-weather drinks. Originally, only gin was used, but like a Collins, a buck may be made with a variety of liquors.
The Gin Buck combine the floral flavors of gin with ginger ale to bring together a refreshing and simple cocktail. This is a delicious summer cocktail that is somewhat sweet and definitely thirst-quenching.
We made our with lime juice, but you can use lemon or a combination of the two. Because the ginger ale is a prominent ingredient it is important to go with one that stands out. That is why we recommend using Tanqueray.
News & Events
The Montclair Fine Arts Sidewalk Festival showcases the best in one-of-a-kind crafts and artistry. The annual, two-day, open-air event features many Bay Area craftsmen and is a great way to discover local artists, shop fresh produce at the farmer's market, and spend your weekend outdoors!
Montclair Village Summer Art Walk is in its 44th year and celebrates art in the outdoors when more than 65 artists from the Bay Area and beyond will be displaying their wares along the sidewalks and against the scenic backdrop of Montclair Village and the Oakland Hills.
Saturday, June 28th from 10 AM to 6 PM
Sunday, June 30th from 10 AM to 5 PM
Farmer’s Market Sunday, June 30 from 9 AM to 1 PM
Montclair Village Shopping District
La Salle Avenue, Oakland
A Staff Favorite
If you haven't tried Parrano cheese, we recommend you do! It is one of our most popular cheeses—and simply flies off our shelves!
Parrano is an unforgettable cheese with a distinctly Italian temperament. Parrano artfully captures two of the world’s best-loved cheeses, Parmesan and Gouda, to create a truly unique cheese. Its five-month aging time produces a full-flavored cheese with the nutty, buttery characteristics of Parmesan and the smooth, creamy texture of a young Gouda. It is aged to perfection and the taste is loved by many.
Parrano is a cheese that is full of flavor and versatile enough to cut, grate and melt. We love it in sandwiches and salads and for snacking straight up. It does very well in recipes and is perfect for melting on a juicy, grilled burger or try it in grilled cheese. Parrano elevates an everyday meal to something special.
Pair with a lager or a Syrah.
So good, so fresh!
If you are looking for a refreshing sparkling beverage this summer, we recommend you try Waterloo. It's our new favorite!
Waterloo is simply made from purified carbonated water and natural flavors. Their flavors contain zero synthetic ingredients—none, nada, zilch. Not only are all their ingredients natural, they are best in class. Waterloo is also free of sugar, sweeteners, sodium, and other additives.
Waterloo’s natural flavors are derived from the named fruit used in each of their different varieties. By using the natural extracted fruit essences and oils, they create true-to-fruit flavors, unlike any others we have tasted.
News & Events
Woodminster Summer Musicals have been presented for over 50 years in Oakland's Joaquin Miller Park. Three musicals are presented each summer, and each musical is accompanied by a live professional orchestra and professional actors, along with dozens of talented local performers.
Woodminster Amphitheater is a large historic outdoor amphitheater, a WPA construction surrounded by a redwood forest. A picnic before the show is an essential part of the Woodminster experience for many ticket holders. And, it makes the experience extra fun for audience members.
Newsies from July 5 through 7th and 11th through 14th
Inspired by the real-life “Newsboy Strike of 1899,” when newsboy Kid Blink led a band of orphan and runaway newsies on a two-week-long strike. Timely and fresh, the fictionalized adaptation of Newsiesaddresses age-old themes of social injustice, exploitative labor practices, and David-versus-Goliath struggles as the young learn to harness their power against a corrupt establishment.
They delivered the papers until they made the headlines... Newsies is a smash-hit, crowd-pleasing musical from Disney. A two-time Tony Award-winning show, Newsieshas audiences and critics alike calling it “a musical worth singing about!” (The New York Times).
The Butcher's Block
If you are someone who consumes beef with any regularity, you have most likely seen the USDA Prime or USDA Choice grade symbols either on the package or as part of an advertisement. But, do you know what they really mean? The easy answer would be to say that the USDA Prime option is the better cut of beef…which would only sort of be true. You could have a cut of USDA Choice that can be as good or sometimes even better than Prime.
So how do you choose?
The guidelines the USDA uses to determine what is Prime, Choice, or Select beef all revolve around two words,
is the easy part. Marbling is the amount of fat that can be seen within the cut of meat. The more fat marbling, the better the flavor.
is a little more complicated. A cut of beef can have moderately abundant marbling, slightly abundant marbling, moderate marbling, slight marbling, and everything else in between. It’s enough to give someone a headache.
To help soothe the ache, below is a quick guide to the two most popular grade, Prime and Choice:
USDA Prime beef refers to high-quality cuts of beef with slightly abundant to abundant marbling. Though Prime beef can now be found at more and more food retailers, Prime beef is most often sold to restaurants and hotels. Prime beef is high quality and tender and comes with a price tag to match. Prime roasts and steaks are best suited to roasting or grilling.
USDA Choice beef is also high-quality tender beef but with less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts or steaks that come from the loin and rib areas will be very tender and have great flavor with a much more affordable price tag. The less tender Choice cuts will come from the round section. These are the cuts that are better used for braising or slow roasting.
The grade of beef you choose wholly depends on you, what you are cooking and what your budget can allow. There is no right or wrong option. A lot of times it depends on the person preparing it.
If you ever get the opportunity to try a bit of each option side by side I encourage you to experiment and see if you can tell the difference.
From our recipe blog, The Kitchen Table
If you ask my husband what he wants for Father’s Day, he will tell you without hesitation that he neither needs nor wants anything. He has said, however, that he would be okay with a clean and organized house. I wish I could say that is an easy request….
The love of my life is not a person that needs stuff(unless you count musical instruments). In fact, his preference is for the least amount of stuffhe can get away with. Because of this, it is hard to recognize his awesomeness as a father in the usual ways. That is why birthdays and Father’s Day are usually celebrated with some sort of special food item.
There are many treats that our #1 Dad thinks are the best thing ever. The first would be ice cream. Whether it is a bowl of his favorite Tin Roof Sundae or an ice cream sandwich, anyone who thinks they might be able to keep a stash on hand for craving emergencies would be very, very wrong. You’d be lucky if either lasts the night. There is one other tasty treat that trumps even the most decadent ice cream and that treat would be cookies.
One of the first things I learned about my husband when we met was of his love of cookies. In fact,
was the first word he spoke as a child. To say that he has never met a cookie he didn’t like would be a massive understatement. But, his hands down, absolute favorite is classic peanut butter cookie dipped in melted chocolate.
peanut butter cookies they are a variety I don’t make very often. Mainly because most of the cookies I make are for school functions and peanuts are generally a bad idea at school. So, to celebrate and thank the best father to my kids that I could ever have thought of, I will be making these to go with the milk in his World’s Greatest Dad mug.
Vendor of the Month
Many of us remember Loard's as a favorite ice cream spot growing up in the Bay Area. The iconic ice cream shop that was founded in the 1950s has not changed their recipe, and the result is really, really good creamery style ice cream.
This truly old-fashioned ice cream is irresistibly rich and creamy. And we are lucky to be able to carry it at Piedmont Grocery.
We carry a variety of Loard's Ice Cream flavors and rotate through them from week to week. At any given point, we have about 2/3 of them in stock, and that always includes the basics.
So, if you are looking for some heaping scoops of yummy goodness, stop by the store and grab a couple of your favorite quarts.
Seven Days a Week
9 AM to 8 PM
9 AM to 7 PM
4038 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.