What you'll need for 5 dinners
- 5 packages Bombay Kitchen chicken biryani (apparently they have many more options, but I can't find them in my grocery store)
- 1 container full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 5 orange bell peppers (or you could mix it up and try all kinds!)
- cayenne pepper
- black pepper
- garlic powder
- red pepper flakes
- 1 lime
- 1 32-ounce container all-natural, no-MSG-added chicken broth
We have all experienced the kind of week I’m about to describe: You are out of sorts, because you have had company in town, or you have gotten overloaded at work, or you have too little work and are stressed about money, or someone close to you has experienced a tragedy, or you spent the better part of a day tearfully constructing (or deconstructing) a breakup letter and are now behind on your work, or your sleep is all messed up and you can’t concentrate. Take your pick. Mix and match. All of these things have the potential to be intertwined; one might arise individually, but then comes the domino-effect that ends with you as a hot mess.
By the time Sunday rolls around—the day when you usually prepare healthy meals for the next five days and that therefore serves also as an opportunity to set the tone for the entire week—you can hardly change out of pajamas, much less chop three pounds of vegetables. Rather than being frugal, healthy, well-rested, and energetic enough to keep up your gym routine for the Monday-Friday that follow, you find yourself consuming mostly Starbucks, takeout, and those little packages of airline peanuts. Because of the caffeine and being too full, you’re unable to sleep, and because you’re unable to sleep, you skip the gym. Do you see where this is heading? Why should one day of failure have this much power?
It shouldn’t, really, and part of that’s on you. Okay, you are probably very responsible—let’s just say me. The problem comes when I’m too stubborn to give up on my high hopes for chopping three pounds of vegetables, or whatever other insane and arbitrary requirement I’ve set up for myself, even as I dread it. If I’m having one of those weeks where things are off, there’s absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t say to myself, gently, “Look, those three pounds of vegetables can wait! Go get some frozen meals, for the love of God!”
Frozen meals don’t have to taste like giving up, because some weeks, if you don’t provide yourself some meal-prep relief …well, you’re going to give up. My favorite frozen meal hack of late uses a frozen meal base that doesn’t have a million, unidentifiable ingredients and tastes as good as something I could get in a restaurant, but has the added benefit of not coming in a bottomless trough. May it bring you as much joy and comfort as it has to me in the past month: