I love recipes, obviously. But there is just one problem with them…sometimes I don’t have all the ingredients, and I don’t feel like going to the store.

So more often than not, I improvise. Which is a really good thing. If one of my recipes calls for chard and you prefer kale, go for it! Like it a bit spicier? Add more chili flakes!

I feel like the place of recipes is to either create something so delicious that you make it again and again…or to help you master certain flavour combinations or ideas so you can rock them on your own. However, depending on the recipe, freestyling might actually cause a bit of a flop. Because sometimes certain ingredients have to be there in just the right proportion for the recipe to work.

Which brings me to the un-recipe: more often than not, if I am not developing a recipe to share with you, I am un-recipe-ing. Not a real word…but definitely makes for a really good meal! An un-recipe is designed to be hyper flexible. So substituting one ingredient for another is no big deal.

Especially if you don’t have a lot of time to cook, a handful of un-recipes and some thoughtful batch cooking can really make your weekday eating a breeze.

Which is why I have created my Minimalist’s Guide to Eating Well. I am so excited to share this with you. I created it for all of us who love to eat, want to eat a more plant-based diet but don’t have all day to spend in the kitchen. It’s designed to give you the tools to freestyle in the kitchen, like ten simple meal formulas that are the opposite of boring.

So today, I am sharing a little sneak peek! Perfectly balanced grain bowls that will make lunchtime delicious + energizing once again.

Un-Recipe: Gorgeous Grain Bowls

The Formula (for one serving):

1 cup cooked grain + 1⁄2 cup protein + 1 cup fresh + cooked veggies + 3 tbsp raw nuts/seeds + 1/3 cup sauce + optional fresh flavours (lemon, lime, parsley, cilantro)

The Method:

Arrange in bowls and serve. Use salt, pepper, hot sauce or lemon/lime to brighten and lift flavours as you desire.

If making and eating right away, this can be a 30 minute (millet and canned chickpeas) or 60 minute (barley and baked tofu) meal. But prep time becomes almost instant when you think ahead.

The Prep:

This is where batch cooking saves your (veggie) bacon! Once a week, cook up enough of one or two whole grains for the week (2.5 raw cups should work). Buy either canned beans, cook a batch from scratch to freeze for later or bake up some tofu. If roasting or chopping veggies, do it now. Make a big batch of sauce for the week.

Sauces are what take grain bowls from basic to beautiful. Here’s a fun one to try:

Basic cashew cream sauce

Soak 1 cup cashews overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in blender with 1 cup water, 1 clove of grated garlic and a 1⁄2 tsp of salt. Puree until silky smooth. This is the bare bones version.

To make it thicker and more hummus-like, use less water, either 1⁄2 cup or 3⁄4 cup. Then spice it up! Go chipotle by blending in 1 jarred chipotle pepper in adobo. Or herby with 1⁄2 cup of your fave herbs and more garlic. The sky is the limit.

In about an hour of active time, you can prep enough food to have a couple of weeknight dinner pre-prepped – or make killer lunches for the entire week…no more #saddesklunch here!

What it looks like IRL: my favourite grain bowl combos:

  1. Millet, Chickpeas, Roasted squash, Baby spinach, pumpkin seeds and turmeric tahini
  2. Wheat berries, lentils, cherry tomatoes, avocado, hemp seeds, chipotle cashew sauce
  3. Quinoa, baked tofu, sautéed zucchini, grated raw beet, slivered almonds, lemon vinaigrette

Go play in the kitchen…and let me know how it goes!

Photo Credit: Melissa Quantz

PS: If you find you are constantly buying veggies, only to throw them out, long after they’ve been forgotten. I’ve got something for you! Check out my FREE guide to Waste Less. It’s part of my #EatWellMinimalist approach which can help you save time and money in the kitchen.