A Nutritionist’s Flexible Plan for
Pandemic cooking came with lessons on relying on the pantry, riffing when you don’t have the right ingredient, and stretching what you have to make it last between shopping trips. Now, as many people enter a hybrid phase of pandemic living—with some household members working or learning remote, going in person to the office or school, or a combination of the two—we want some updated, flexible strategies for packed and prepped meals.
Maya Feller, MS, RD, a New York–based nutritionist, mom, and wife, gets what it takes to plan for a whole family’s varied needs. “This transition back requires careful planning, thought, and intention around mealtimes,” she says. Her advice, as always, is clever, practical, and workable for many types of households and schedules: “All you need are a few time-saving tools, a curated pantry and fridge, and partially prepared foods to streamline meal prep.”
MAYA’S FAVORITE TOOLS
Ninja Foodi Air Fryer
“This air fryer has a grill and an air fryer function that is excellent for vegetables and animal proteins. It transforms produce from the farmers’ market into crispy, grilled, or baked delights. It’s very simple to use and has a cooking guide, so foods are cooked to perfection.”
“Dry beans are a major staple in my house: They are delicious and an excellent source of plant-based proteins, vitamins, and minerals. With this pot’s many functions and settings, I can prepare batches of beans, soups, stews, and even desserts with minimal effort.”
CRUXGG BRED Bread Maker
“During the shutdown period, like the rest of the country, we got really into making sourdough. I fell in love with this bread maker because I could dump all of the ingredients in and come back an hour later to a loaf of fresh bread. I would play with the grains as well as ingredients and come up with awesome combinations, like multiseed bread with dried blueberries or spelt bread with walnuts.”
“Having a good knife allows you to slice, chop, and dice with ease and precision. As an RD, I’m aware that I’m asking my patients to spend more time in the kitchen. If they are going to do that, they need tools that will make it a pleasure-filled experience so that they are likely to keep it up. Shun knives handle so beautifully and are exquisitely made.”
Big Berkey Water Filter
“So often we think about the foods we eat but forget about water. It’s an integral part of wellness as proper hydration is needed for every system in the body. My Berkey filter provides delicious, clean water for my family.” [Editor’s note: Berkeys are a goop favorite, too.]
A CURATED PANTRY
If your pantry and fridge are stocked with a mix of reliable and versatile staples, you can make delicious meals with ease. Feller often uses no-recipe recipe formulas so she can easily work with whatever she has on hand to create hearty salads, grain bowls, veggie tacos, and loaded toasts. The key ingredients she always keeps on hand, and some go-to formulas:
chickpeas or red beans
goat’s or sheep’s milk feta cheese
hearts of palm
salad mix with greens like endive, radicchio, kale, and baby lettuces
simmer sauces from Haven’s Kitchen and Egunsi Foods
sunflower and pumpkin seeds
tinned sardines in olive oil
beans + greens + seeds + cheese
EASY GRAIN BOWL
roasted veggies + simmer sauce + rice
tortillas + eggs + veggies + avocado
sprouted toast + sprouts or herbs + tinned fish
PARTIALLY PREPPED FOODS
Meal prepping can be hugely helpful, but it requires a lot of effort and doesn’t always leave wiggle room if your plans or moods should change. That’s why Feller prefers partial prepping to full-blown meals. She thinks of it as a survival kit—with a few crucial elements to make weeknight cooking easier and tastier: one salad dressing, one stew or pot of beans, and one tray of veggies (either raw for snacking or roasted for adding to bowls and salads).
Meal-Prep Ideas from the goop Recipe Archives:
Definitely worth adding to your repertoire.
Carrot and Ginger Dressing
Spoon it over salads or enjoy as a dip—this can get kids to eat their veggies.
Bean Stew with Kale and Escarole
Hearty soups always seem to taste better the second day.
Chicken Sofrito Stew
This soup is a riff on sancocho, a staple soup made in almost every Latin American kitchen. There are countless versions of it—ours is light and packed with veggies.
Maple-Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables
Sure, you can just roast vegetables with olive oil and salt, but the maple syrup and Dijon add so much.
Tossed Peanut-y Roasted Vegetable Bowls
Simple, filling, and packed with tons of veggies and chickpeas.
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