One of the most important aspects of this blog is engaging my community in the discussion of sustainability, pragmatism, and healthy lifestyle on a budget. In order to hear different voices and perspectives I have asked some peers to contribute their thoughts and experiences. Every few weeks I will feature a guest post discussing issues, sharing experiences, and raising questions on the subject. Message me if you're interested in contributing to the discussion.
This week my coworker, Hanna Wintz, shares her go-to recipe for a take to work lunch. Hanna moved out to NYC from the West Coast a little under 2 years ago. Ever since she's been busy seeking out comparable burritos, produce, and weather patterns. Food-wise, she specializes in meal-prepping, chocolate making, and crepes, with her favorite kitchen item being a silicone spatula.
NYC is a city where you run your life by paying for conveniences. From having someone wash and fold your clothes for you, to having a man on a bicycle drop off your piping-hot lunch at your desk, to paying someone to deliver bubble tea to you, NYC has mastered and normalized the outsourcing of chores so that you can dedicate as much time as possible to working, drinking, and working. Living in a culture that never seems to let you slow down or have time to yourself isn't easy on the wallet - and with rent, loans, and bill balances piling up, something's gotta give (and I can tell you, it's not going to be my $12 cocktails...).
If I had to name one convenience I hate to pay for, it'd be buying lunch. There never seem to be many healthy options past boring salads and soups, and even with the emergence of healthier options (think Dig Inn), I can never totally trust it's as healthy as they claim, because, after all, it's rather easy to soak those sweet potatoes in olive oil to make them more appealing. More importantly, buying lunch 5 times a week comes out to close to $60, which comes out to $240 a month! I have a long list of things I'd like to spend $240 on, and it doesn't include salads or rice bowls .
I thought I'd give a little glimpse into my Sunday afternoons, where I spend around an hour prepping meals for my week. First, chicken thighs are one of my go-to meats. Coming in at less than $3.50 a pound with all of the juice, flavor, and tenderness that chicken breasts just don't deliver. (Even better, they're less difficult to overcook than chicken breasts, making thighs easier for those less cooking-inclined. I use them in most of my meal prep and they never disappoint!) Next - if you don't own a large container of Cumin, I would suggest you go out and get yourself one. It is such an incredible spice that can bring a dish from bland to complex - I use it in most of my dishes in combination with paprika and chili powder (apply generously). Last, although not featured in this post, roasting vegetables is my go-to for making large batches of tasty, delicious food. If you think you aren't a big fan of vegetables, it's because you haven't had properly roasted and spiced ones! I urge you to try it out (375 degrees, 30-40 mins)
So here is my prep for the week, please enjoy!
Chipotle-Style Rice Bowls
- 4 tomatoes on the vine
- 1 medium sized onion
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 1 lime
- 1 jalapeno, 1 habanero pepper
- 5-6 chicken thighs
- 1.5 cup uncooked white rice
- 32 oz black beans
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 3 tsp paprika
- Dice tomatoes, dice onion, chop up cilantro and mix it all together. Add salt, pepper, and lime juice. Set aside.
- Debone and dice chicken thighs, set aside.
- Dice jalapeno and habanero.
- Bring 1.5 C rice in 3 C water to a boil, then set to lowest simmer for 20 mins. Stir frequently.
- While rice is cooking, heat up a pan with some olive oil. Once hot, add peppers to simmer for a couple of minutes to make sure the olive oil absorbs the spice. Add chicken and cook through, adding salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and chili powder.
- Remove chicken from heat, leaving juices in the pan. Once rice is nearly done cooking, transfer to pan and add beans to simmer and absorb chicken juice. Add more spices to taste.
- Split across tupperware equally, starting with rice & beans, then chicken, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, and top it off with some sour cream!
- Store in fridge and pull out as you go through the week. (You can also freeze the remaining for 2 days to ensure freshness, although I've never had any issues).