Ingredient Prep: Roasted Vegetables

Easily one of my biggest time savers for getting dinner on the table every night of the week – is Ingredient Prep.

Sure I do prep whole meals in advance (stay tuned for that one!) but prepping individual ingredients has just worked a whole lot better for my life right now.

By Ingredient Prep, I simply mean that you prepare some key ingredients ahead of time – and then store these in the fridge or freezer.

I like to do this on a Saturday or Sunday, over the course of a few hours. But you could also just do this when you have a spare 15-20 minutes. Sometimes I’ll just do this as part of our normal making dinner routine. 

I will store things in the fridge first, but I often have a duplicate stash in the freezer – my best friend in the kitchen.

Then, during the week when time is a little limited, I will pull these out and use them to build a meal. It saves me so much time and effort, and there is something really lovely about opening the fridge and seeing all these containers full of yummy goodies just waiting to be eaten.

So – where to start? 

The Empowered Cook shares how to roast vegetables - a key to good ingredient prep. This will help get dinner on the table, every night of the week.

What’s a Prepped Ingredient?

This can vary depending on what you like to cook. I also find it varies depending on the season. In Summer, I tend to prep salad ingredients – like chopped vegetables, leafy greens, dressings, and grains. In Winter, my Ingredient Prep is more likely to be hot food items like cooked meats, baked potatoes, grains, curry bases.

The only guide to good Ingredient Prep is that it needs to be something that you can then use later to build a meal.

How do I use it?

Have you ever been to a salad bar? Or noticed the mise en plus that a restaurant operates with? All those little dishes of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrot and zucchini, nuts and seeds, leafy greens and sprouts. They always look so delicious. AND inspiring!

This is what I aspire to in my fridge! I keep prepped ingredients in glass containers (so that I can see what is inside) in the fridge every week.

Then for dinner – I might just cook some sausages, or some steak – and then serve this with a salad that I’ve pulled together from the prepped ingredients from the fridge.

I also build very hearty ‘Buddha bowls’ – or basically a collection of delicious items in a bowl. This could be a burrito bowl – with beans, rice, salsa, corn, etc. Or a bean bowl – with lentils, roast vegetables and a poached egg on top.

By doing a little Ingredient Prep and having these already prepped in the fridge or freezer means that you can be creative with your meals. Keeping it simple also means it will be healthier than a heavy, stodgy take-away meal.

Where do I start?

Ingredient Prep is fast and simple.

I have found the easiest thing to start with – is Roast Vegetables.

And when I say vegetables, I mean vegetables – plural. It can be ANY vegetable. I have roasted everything from the normal old potato and pumpkin through to asparagus, broccoli and brussel sprouts (please try these!).

It is also very little active time – you can prep vegetables at the same time as you are preparing dinner one night, or prep them ahead of time on the weekend or through the day. 

How To Roast Vegetables

  1. Select your vegetables – I like to use a variety, but you can also just roast single vegetables at a time. Whatever you have in your fridge, or whatever you have bought from the grocery store this week.
  2. Chop them (peeling optional) – It is really up to you if you choose to peel your vegetables. I think this is a little bit of personal preference. So I will leave that for you to decide. The only guideline is to try and chop things evenly and according to their cooking time. So if you are roasting a bunch of root vegetables – chop these all about the same size. But if you are adding some softer vegetables into the same tray (like zucchini) then chop this larger, because it will take much less time to cook.
  3. Drizzle with oil – I like olive oil or coconut oil. But there are loads of options here. Be a little daring!
  4. Season – this can be as simple as salt and pepper. But you could also try chilli flakes (on cauliflower – this is just heaven), cumin seeds (so good on pumpkin), garlic – give lots of different ones a go, and see what you like.
  5. Cook – I roast at 190-200 degrees celsius. A big tray usually takes around 40 minutes. But you should experiment a little and always keep an eye on them – no one likes completely blackened veggies. Although a little bit of crispy edges is nice.

To store these, I keep them in the fridge for up to a week. I also sometimes freeze these (except potato – which I don’t love the texture of when frozen) for up to 3 months.

You can then reheat and serve as a side with dinner, or eat cold with a salad or just as a snack.

Bonus Tip

You can freeze the chopped root vegetables raw. This has saved me even more time. I will often peel and chop a whole heap of sweet potatoes, or pumpkins and then store these in snaplock bags in the freezer. When I have some time to roast these – or I want a quick side dish with dinner – I will simply pull a bag from the freezer and dump it out on an oven tray. Drizzle, season and cook! Voila – fresh roast vegetables.

Need some more inspiration?

Check out my Pinterest board of Side Dishes or my Vegetarian board. Both have some great recipe ideas for roasted vegetables.

Will you give Ingredient Prep a go? Let me know! Share your thoughts below. And please share this post with your friends if you think they’ll like this idea too.

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