This morning, the Monday Make-Ahead resolution came in particularly handy as Paul had to be out the door at 5:30 am to catch a flight. Which meant that not only did this week’s make-ahead have to be especially fast, it had to be one in which the finishing touches were exaggeratedly obvious as I was not stringing together coherent sentences while prepping said breakfast.
Two things I love about this to-go meal. One, while the night before prep takes a *little* bit of cooking, it’s a one-pot deal that lends itself perfectly to multitasking – I worked on this prep while also making dinner. (Using a timer made this possible of course – don’t think of multitasking without one!) Two, this particular make-ahead is a traveler’s best friend from a nutritional standpoint – at times while traveling we never know what lunch will look like, and I like that the ingredients here provide a very balanced foundation – fats, carbs and proteins, plus a big variety of vitamins and minerals. Not that other make-aheads don’t deliver in their own rights, just that this one in particular hedges against the curveballs of traveling.
Make-Ahead Protein Packed Lunch
Hands-On Time: 7-10 minutes between evening and morning
Special Equipment: 4-Quart (medium sized) pot
- 1 Cup Quinoa
- 2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 2 Eggs
- Handful of Ice
- 1/2 Avocado
- Six large Cherry Tomatoes
- Two large handfuls basil & spinach, torn into small pieces.
- Two lemon wedges.
The Night Before:
- Place quinoa and chicken broth in a medium pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Do not remove lid to peek or stir or it will not cook properly. (I am still getting use to this!)
- Remove quinoa from heat after the 20 minute mark and let sit, covered, for five minutes. Then, remove cover and fluff with a fork. Place in a covered container, including directly into the to-go containers you’ll be using in the morning.
- Rinse out the pot and fill with enough water to cover the eggs. Return to burner over medium-high heat.
- Just as the water comes to a boil, gently place the eggs in the water. Set a timer for 20 minutes, and cook the eggs in gently boiling (vs a big, rolling boil) water.
- Meanwhile, prepare a small bowl of ice water. At the 20 minute mark, remove the eggs and place directly into the ice water to help them cool down quickly. After 5-10 minutes, dump the ice water and store the eggs, shells still on, in the fridge in that very bowl.
- Tear spinach & basil into bite sized or just larger pieces. I recommend storing the torn greens separately until morning, since any residual warmth from the quinoa will cause them to wilt.
In the Morning:
- Place the quinoa in your to-go containers, if not there already. Add the torn greens. Squeeze one lemon wedge per serving over the greens.
- Cut an avocado in half and store the pit-side in an airtight container in the fridge. Take the non-pit side and on a cutting board, hold the poles of the fruit while making a grid of vertical and horizontal cuts, thereby dicing the avocado flesh. Holding the half-avocado in the palm of your hand, scoop out the cubes with a spoon. Distribute half into each to-go container.
- Quarter the cherry tomatoes and evenly distribute.
- Finally, peel and slice the hard-boiled eggs.
- To peel the shells at lightening speed, take one egg at a time and gently but with enough force to start a crack plunk it on the cutting board. Then roll it over the cutting board with the palm of your hand applying even pressure as you go to create multiple small cracks around the egg’s equator. The membrane under the shell stays in-tact this way, resulting in large sections of shell coming off at once. Simply hold the egg by one of the poles and lift any section of cracked shell. Half the shell will come off in one go, in about .01 seconds. This technique saves precious minutes in the early morning.
- Place one egg in each to-go container. If you like, add a dab of Sriracha or hot sauce to the eggs before sealing.
If you have time to assemble in a bowl, the make-ahead factor is equally as appealing!
Have a great week…