If there’s one thing I find many people struggle with, it’s figuring out how to eat healthily for dinner in the mid-week. You know the deal – you’re at work til 6pm, maybe 7, by the time you get home it’s 730 at a press, and the last thing you feel like doing is slaving over the stove for an hour. No, your stomach is ready for dinner now (actually an hour ago). So what to do on nights like these? Here are my top 3 tips for getting your mid-week meals sorted…
- Have a revolving repertoire of 15 min recipes at hand, that are flexible enough to be able to use whatever produce you’ve got in the fridge (key in… the main meal section of my website here);
- Always make double what you need of the above meals – 2 person household, make for 4; 4 person family, make for 8 – I know it might seem like a lot of food at the time, but trust me, that Wednesday night dinner or Thursday lunch will thank you;
- Make 1 batch meal a week, ideally on a Sunday – just like this delicious lasagne.
Using the above formula, your dinners might end up looking something like this:
Sunday: Batch meal
Monday: Batch meal leftovers
Tuesday: 15 min meal #1
Wednesday: 15 min meal leftovers
Thursday: 15 min meal #2
Friday: 15 min meal leftovers
Doing the above means not only will you save time, you’re actually only cooking three times a week. If your batch meals serves triple your household, you’ll even have enough for a couple of lunches too.
This delish lasagne is one of my favourite batch meals. While it takes a little longer to cook than most of my recipes (hence why it’s perfect on a Sunday), the actual prep time is pretty much 20 minutes all up. Plus – anything goes! Yep, this recipe is perfectly crafted so you can use whatever veges are in season. No silverbeet? Try spinach or kale. Mushrooms all out? Carrots will do just fine. So open up your fridge, and book this one in for this week!
Eating seasonally with a weekly vege box
We normally buy our veggies from the local markets, taking a trip up there each Sunday morning. But lately I’ve been ordering the weekly vege boxes from Chantal Organics. Not only does it mean we’re eating seasonally, it’s also super convenient that it just turns up on our doorstep each week! If you’re wanting to make healthier dinners, but are pressed for time, then having a weekly box of fresh organic fruit and vege delivered is definitely something I recommend to reduce your work load. Here are a few other reasons I’m a big fan of veggie boxes…
- It’s easy – if you’re time poor, delivery to your door can be a god send in terms of making healthier food decisions.
- It’s seasonal – veggie boxes generally only have what’s being harvested by growers right now. Eating with the seasons is better for your body (ever noticed how you crave roast kumara in winter, while in summer you more feel like fresh tomatoes?). What’s more, nutrient levels have been shown to be higher in produce that’s seasonal, as opposed to that which is grown out of season in artificial conditions.
- It’s local – veggie boxes generally source their produce locally, direct from small farmers, meaning you’re reducing your food miles (even with the delivery – remember, you still have to drive to the store…).
- It’s natural – eating seasonally and locally often means your produce is less likely to have been sprayed with pesticides, to (a) encourage it to grow out of season, and (b) hold its shelf life until it gets to the store. Some box deliveries even offer a fully organic option, like Chantal Organics’ one.
- It’s varied – getting a veggie box means you’re more likely to step outside your comfort zone in terms of what you eat. I used to go to the supermarket each week and buy broccoli, tomato, cucumber and baby spinach every time. Seriously! I didn’t even know tomatoes didn’t grow in winter… Getting a vege box means you’ll be surprised with the odd artichoke, yam, custard apple, purple potatoes, sprouting broccoli, and more – yes that might be a challenge, but it means you’ll be getting a much wider range of nutrients and flavours than your stock standard supermarket selection.
- It’s fresh – the produce in veggie boxes is often much fresher than what you find at the super – it’s literally come straight from the growers to the packing station, distributed into boxes, then shipped straight to your door.
- It uses less plastic – so many veggies today, even at organic stores, and slathered in cling film and placed on foam plates – just so the stores can save time at check-out (it means they have a barcode that can be scanned). Horrific! It’s not good for our health either, with various toxins from the plastic leaching into the food. Getting a veggie box means all the fruit and vege are just thrown in there, au naturale, without all those nasty individual plastic wrappers.
The biggest concern people tell me they have about ordering a weekly vege box, is whether they’ll be able to use it all. Or if it will all end up in some brown gooey mess in the fridge three weeks later. The key is to have a bunch of recipes on hand, that are forgiving in terms of what ingredients they need to use. Which is why for all my recipes, I always include notes down below with substitution options. And why this lasagne is so perfect – because, it really is ALL IN!
I’ve made this version here with carrot, celery, and silverbeet – as that’s what came in my box that week. But you could use whatever vege you’ve got on hand right now. Zucchini, leek, mushrooms, eggplant, capsicum, would all work fab in the veggie sauce, and for the greens – spinach, kale, collard leaves or rainbow chard could be great subs for the silverbeet.
Back to our batch cooking concept – be sure to make enough of this lasagne for at least double what you need, ideally triple. That way you’ll have dinner for tomorrow night (or the one after), and you can either freeze the last portion for dinner in a few weeks’ time, or use for easy lunches during the week. You can thank me on Wednesday night, when you come home to this leftover deliciousness!
Enough from me, get yourself some seasonal produce, and try this All-In Veggie Lasagne this weekend. I’d love to see your trays of baked goodness over on Insta, so be sure to share your pics with the tags @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics so I can come find you. If you’re not on Insta, you can always share your remakes on my Facebook page too, over here.
Til next week, stay happy and well.
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Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed/chopped
- 2 c chopped veggies e.g 1 carrot + 1 stalk celery
- 1 1/2 c diced tomatoes/passata
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano/thyme/rosemary
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 c plant-based milk almond, rice, oat, soy, and coconut will all work great here
- 1 tsp sweetener coconut nectar/brown rice syrup/maple syrup all work great
- 275 g tofu
- ½ c plant-based milk
- 1 c fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp lemon juice 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp white miso
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 big bunch silverbeet/spinach/kale ~250g, finely sliced
- 150 g lasagne sheets
- 1/2 c grated vegan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F), and grab a 30×30 cm or similar sized dish.
- Make sauce: Heat coconut oil on medium, sauté onion for 1 minute, then add garlic and veggies for another few minutes until starting to soften. Add tomatoes, herbs and salt and simmer on low for 10 minutes until slightly reduced, then add milk and sweetener and turn off the heat.
- Make ricotta: Blitz all ingredients together until smooth (while sauce is cooking).
- Prep greens: Steam greens in a pan with a dash of water, stems first, then leaves at the end.
- Assemble: add a little bit of sauce to cover the bottom of your dish, then 1/4 of lasagne sheets (layer 1), 1/2 your tofu ricotta, 1/2 of your greens and then 1/4 lasagne sheets (layer 2). Then add 1/2 your veggie sauce, 1/2 greens and 1/4 lasagne sheets again (layer 3. Finally, do 1/2 veggie sauce, 1/4 lasagne sheets (layer 4) and top with 1/2 ricotta and a hearty topping of vegan cheese.
- Bake: covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 10, or switch it up to grill for those last 10 to brown it faster. Be sure to let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving so it holds together when sliced. Will keep in the fridge for 5 days, or in the freezer for 2 months.
- This is an “All-In” lasagne – which means anything goes! That means any other vege you have on hand can get in there e.g zucchini, leek, mushrooms, eggplant, capsicum.
- You can also use any other leafy greens you have in the fridge (or garden) – we used silverbeet as that’s what came in our Chantal Organics vegebox. But spinach, kale, or even collard leaves and rainbow chard would also be fab.
- If you’re using dried herbs, I recommend using 1 teaspoon instead of 1 tablespoon. You can also use what you have to hand – oregano and and thyme are more authentically Italia but rosemary is also delicious. These harder woodier herbs give are nice and strong, and give this lasagne some edge. You could though also use parsley at a pinch, but you’d need more (I’d go ¼-1/2 c – can never over do herbage!).
- To make this soy free, simply replace the white miso in the Tofu Ricotta with 2 tbsp nutritional yeast.
- The milk and sweetener cuts the acidity of the tomatoes, and adds a dash of richness to the sauce – delish.
- I use the same pan for the greens as my sauce, just pour it into a side bowl first – saves dishes. You could also possibly save a few minutes by steaming them in a separate pan while the sauce is simmering, though this might be offset by extra wash-up.
- The vegan cheese I used is here is the Angel Foods cheddar (made right here in New Zealand, which I love!). If you’re in the U.S. or Canada, Daiya is good. If you don’t have any vegan cheeses locally, try my Dairy Free Parmesan here, or Brazil Nut Parmesan here – both amazing, you can easily make in 5 minutes while your sauce is simmering, and they make extra for later and can be kept in the fridge for months. Failing that, a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (I only recommend this one here – some others can taste a little funky).
- This recipe serves 6 light portions (think ladies who lunch). Or 4 men. Or possibly 2 builders. For us (two adults, one toddler), it made enough for 2 dinners – one for that night, and one the night after.
- Don’t get eager and try slice this before you let it settle. It will literally slide apart and no-one likes a slid-apart lasagne. Pour a drink. You’ll be thankful you waited.