Over the weekend, it’s easy to get a leg up on weekday lunches. To get my first head start, I turn to leftovers from Saturday or Sunday dinner.
The key to turning my leftovers into lunches is how I put them away in the fridge. On Saturday, I made a big pot of beef stew. When I put it away after dinner, I did not pour the stew into a big container. Instead, I ladled out individual servings in mason jars.
Storing servings in jars provides many advantages:
- By design, mason jars are ready to go into a lunch bag. They do not leak, and they hold single servings.
- Mason jars are nimble. They are easy to shuffle around in a packed fridge, unlike a big tupperware full of soup.
- Convenience. Storing in jars also means no more ladling and no more ladle washing. A bowl of soup is already measured out, ready to be reheated.
A roasted vegetable is almost always part of my get-ahead plan. On Sunday afternoon, in the lull of the day, I roasted a butternut squash. Squash, roasted ahead of time, is wonderful in lunches. Finely cubed, it can go on top of salads, rice, quinoa, and even oatmeal. I like to store my butternut squash in slices, so it can also be “deli meat” in a sandwich.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Quarter the squash lengthwise.
- Grease a sheet pan with coconut or canola oil. Put the four pieces of squash on the pan, skin side down.
- Set in the oven. Go do your favorite Sunday afternoon activity, and come back in 45-60 minutes. If the squash is done, it should look a little translucent and be tender when stuck with a fork.
- If it’s done, set the sheet pan on top of the stove or a cooling rack. Go back to your favorite Sunday afternoon activity. Come back when you are ready, and the squash will be cool.
- Remove the skin with your fingers and with a knife. Cut the squash into ¼-inch thick slices. Arrange them in a tupperware, and secure the lid. If you want, puree some of the squash in a food processor and put it in a separate tupperware for soup or baking during the week.
Roasting butternut is so simple and so hands-off. It involves maybe ten minutes of attentive work.