No more excuses

I never quite know when I’m going to get home on work days, but it’s usually around 8 pm.  Showering is always my priority, which means dinner time is further delayed.  This is why I do so much food prep (because there’s nothing more annoying than being starving and staring into an empty fridge).  My essentials include greens and cooked grains.  You can doctor those up in combination in so many ways. 


So whether I’m tossing quinoa, kale and sweet potatoes with a nutty sauce and crushed peanuts…or mixing swiss chard with a soy chickpea & quinoa salad…or highlighting couscous and kale with a “cheesy” blend…the common factor in all my post-work dinners is the [fast] cook time. 

So to everyone who says plant-based diets are “too hard” or “involve too much planning” – well, yes, eating healthy, fresh, whole foods may not be as easy as the drive-thru, but my wellness is my priority so I make it work.  Next time you’re on facebook think of the 3 minutes you just lost.  Excuses, excuses. 

Want some of my tips?

  • I use commercial breaks (even though I DVR my shows) to throw potatoes and squash in the oven or start some quinoa. 
  • I make big casserole type dishes before weeks that I know are going to be especially busy.
  • I bake double batches of muffins, breads, etc. and freeze them individually so I can take out one at a time the night before.
  • I invested in a rice cooker which works for everything (oats, grains, lentils, & beans) and all I have to do is spend 10 seconds to put the food in it and press cook.  [a slow cooker is another amazing appliance]

So it’s entirely possible to fit in food prep, you just have to get creative. 


After waking up at 4:30 am, working 12+ long hours, and fighting traffic the whole way home, here’s what I made for dinner.

This was actually a more time consuming meal (meaning I used a pan as opposed to just the microwave), but still clocked in under 10 minutes.  Here’s the play by play.


Throw kale (pre-stemmed & cut) in pan with sesame oil and soy sauce – 1 minute.


Remove other ingredients from the fridge (pre-cooked couscous, roasted delicata squash, and seitan) while the kale heats up – 1 minute.


Add couscous – 1 minute. 


Toss it into the kale and reduce heat – 2 minutes.


Add squash & seitan – 1 minute.


Toss them with the other ingredients, adding more oil or soy sauce as needed – 2 minutes. 

Like fried rice it will begin to get crispy.


Remove and plate – 1 minute.

Considering I was stopping to take photos at each step, this was still remarkably simple.  Sure, I had all the ingredients pre-cooked, but like I said, that’s prep that can be done mindlessly earlier on and will save you time and stress later.


Fried Couscous with Kale and Squash (vegan)


  • 1 cup cooked couscous (I used Lundberg Farms’ gluten free brown rice couscous)
  • 1/2 cup delicata squash, steamed or roasted
  • 2 cups raw kale, de-stemmed and finely chopped (I used a kale blend that had some traces of red cabbage and carrots in it)
  • 8 ounces seitan, diced (approximately 1 cup)
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil (you could also use coconut oil)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

What’s something you do to prep for the work week?

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Comments (19)

  1. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey

    Oh I totally agree. I think that people regularly make excuses for themselves about why they can’t eat healthy – I say plan ahead!

  2. Sarah

    Hi Elise
    I like to prep things too so that I don’t have to starve after my workouts, but I have a question: I always thought that cutting, steaming, roasting fruit and vegetables in advance makes them lose their vitamins. Is it true? Or is prepped healthy food better than less healthy food anyways?
    I made your banana-pumpkin bread the other day, it was YUMMY!

  3. GetSkinny GoVegan

    Rice Cookers, Pressure Cookers, and Fruits and Salads are great go to foods! Looks great!

  4. lauren@spicedplate

    on sunday night I always throw some beans into the crock pot to let them cook overnight. then I have some for the next few days to make hummus with, or throw into meals when I’m in a hurry. It works wonders!

  5. Caity @ Moi Contre La Vie

    Thanks for the great tips! Planning ahead is definitely the key to getting ourselves out of a takeout rut, thanks for the reminder!

  6. Rachel

    totes agree with your prep! we spend sunday afternoon/evening making a big casserole / dinner dish of some sort that we can eat throughout the week, along with lunch food prep. it’s easy to cook up some veggies or sides if needed while its heating in the micro, and voila, a homecooked meal every night! i always thought we were normal in doing this, but new yorkers seem to order food every.single.night. for dinner! after 1 night of takeout, my body calls out for homecooked food, so i have no idea how people do this EVERY night!

  7. Sarah

    I’m all about the quick and easy dinners! I’ve really been wanting to get a slow cooker. Great advice on prepping everything before the week starts. I’m often stranded mid-week!

  8. Claire @ Live and Love to Eat

    I would love to get better at planning ahead, I just can’t seem to think about the work week on the weekend…

  9. Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    Love the no excuses attitude. I ALWAYS meal plan, and I make sure I have enough leftovers from 2-3 meals to make lunches and dinners for later in the week when I’m busier. Planned leftovers save lives! Plus, meal planning saves me money at the grocery store.

  10. Lauren A. @ Newest Obsession

    Love this! So easy and healthy! I always prep hummus for the work week. My fiance uses it on his sandwiches and I either have it on scrambled eggs for breakfast or with veggies for a mid-morning snack. I also try and prep my lunches for the beginning of the week in a similar manner to what you have shown here!

  11. She Rocks Fitness

    Awesome! I’d love to share this post with my readers on Facebook, but wanted to ask you first if this would be okay. Let me know, because I love how your “no excuses” outlook. 🙂

  12. Jonathan Bechtel

    Having a handful of recipes you can make with a few simple tools is the best way to combat a busy schedule.

    A few slow cooker recipes, a few dips you can make in a blender, and a few rice/quinoa/bulgar dishes you can make in a rice cooker goes a long way. With a little bit of practice you can usually get to the point where you can make them without a scintilla of thought pretty quickly.

  13. Koko @ Koko Likes

    I love how easy this is. And my vegan friends will be so happy when i bring this over hah!

  14. Deb

    I too am all for the advanced prep. After I buy my veggies at the farmers’ market on Sundays, I go home and chop-n-jar ’em all up, and also make some tasty dressings for the week. A full-blown salad is just three-minutes away any time during the week.

    And, with the addition of seeds, nuts, and a pre-made veggie pate, a full-blown meal can also be just minutes away. Super-easy, fast, cheap, and nutritious. It looks like I took a stop at the Whole Foods bar, but all I had to do was open my fridge and the jars within. 🙂

  15. Elaine

    this dish LOOKS really, really tasty. you think it would work with tofu instead of seitan?

  16. adrianna

    every sunday i make 5 salads, chop veggies, boil eggs, and roast some squash or potatoes. then each day, i grab veg, salad, make a quick sandwich, grab an egg and a bar, and there we go! so systematic now, it barely takes thought, and only about an hour. saves me tons of time and money every week.

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  18. Kim

    I definitely need to start planning ahead. I’ve been working 16 hour days and couldn’t tell you when the last time I ate a real meal was.

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