Hi, I am Chef Zara. In this post, I will guide you through The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook.
I love exploring new foods and recipes and cooking with friends and family. One of the most common questions that I often get is for cookbook recommendations. I have created this guide for friends, family, and new friends alike. I hope that you enjoy our site.
- Seared Scallops with Squash Puree and Sage Butter
- Spinach-Stuffed Portobello Caps
- Grilled and Glazed Pork Chops with Radicchio Salad
- Pork Chops with Chorizo Rice
- Steak Tips with Wilted Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Pear Salad
- Hearty Grain and Vegetable Bowls with Goat Cheese
- Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Burgers
- Fennel, Olive, and Goat Cheese Tarts
- Steak Tacos
- Honey-mustard Pork Tenderloin with Egg noodles
- Herb-Poached Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Salad
- Lentil Salad with Oranges, Celery, and Feta
After this, there is no turning back! 🔥
If you are not familiar with America’s Test Kitchen, then you’re in for a treat. They’ve had a very popular YouTube channel for years where they put top cookware and appliances head-to-head, running them through a barrage of strenuous tests that go for weeks on end. Whenever I’m looking to pick up a new pot, pan, knife, etc., they are my go-to, and their reviews have helped me pick up a variety of kitchen tech. With their reputation for diligence, you know that anything they get into will be top-notch, and that has proven true with The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook.
This book is about two things; meal planning (figuring out what types of meals you’re going to make) and meal prepping (the actual preparation of said meals). The layout for the recipes is clear and comprehensive with ingredients, pre-prep recommendations, step-by-step instructions, and even a section titled, Notes from the Test Kitchen, which provides those hidden tidbits that help you personalize each recipe.
You need to check out this and get ready for The Ultimate Prep Cookbook!
Seared Scallops with Squash Puree and Sage Butter
If you’re as much of a fan of scallops as I am, you’ll absolutely love ATK’s take on this dish. Gather up a pound and a half of scallops, 2 pounds of squash, some salt, pepper, butter, a minced shallot, and for some kick, a pinch of cayenne. Top it off with some minced fresh sage and a touch of lemon juice, and you’ll be on your way to scallop heaven.
Note: ATK recommends “dry” scallops that will develop a stronger browning than “wet” ones.
Spinach-Stuffed Portobello Caps
If you are a fan of mushrooms as well as a fan of spinach, then what could be better than a recipe that combines the two? Even better, this is a simple and delicious side dish that you can put together in under 30-minutes. In the end, just stuff the mushroom cap with the spinach, and you’ll be good to go!
Note: ATK recommends substituting goat cheese for feta and if mint is not your thing, then sub out scallions in its place.
Grilled and Glazed Pork Chops with Radicchio Salad
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit tired of relying on my stock, seared pork chops with garlic butter. It’s one of the go-to dishes that I can whip up in a snap, but I’ve got to expand and reach out for something that is still easy enough to prepare but with a bit more substance, and that’s where this recipe comes in handy. It is incredibly delicious with a variety of sweet and savory notes and requires less than 30-minutes of your time.
Pork Chops with Chorizo Rice
I grew up eating Chorizo, so any dish with this spicy sausage is going to the top of my list. The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity. Just fry up the Chorizo, sauté a bit of bell pepper and shallots until soft, and mix in the par-cooked rice. Prep your pork chops with a dusting of paprika, salt, and pepper, slit the sides to avoid curling, and sear up in a pan with some oil until they reach roughly 145 degrees in temperature.
Note: If you’re unsure about Chorizo, ATK recommends Italian sausage as a substitute.
Steak Tips with Wilted Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Pear Salad
A nice steak with a side of spinach is as classic as they come, but this recipe takes it a step further. Add to the steak and spinach some chopped pistachios, a shallot, lemon zest, goat cheese, and a thinly sliced pear, and you will have an interesting dish that will satisfy your taste for both the sweet and savory.
Note: ATK says to swap out an apple for the pear and pecans for the pistachio if that’s what you fancy.
Hearty Grain and Vegetable Bowls with Goat Cheese
With all these fattening beef and pork recipes, we have to find “some” balance, right? ATK thinks so, which is why they’ve included a very interesting and healthy dish for those who are interested in healthy dishes. And if you’re of the belief that anything with the name vegetable bowl can’t possibly be tasty, think again. With the combination of freshly cooked farrow, lemon zest, and lemon juice; garlic, carrots, baby spinach, cremini mushrooms, and goat cheese, you will quickly understand that a vegetable bowl can not only be tasty, but it can also be something magnificent.
Note: ATK says not to hesitate to sub in pearl barley in place of the farro if you so desire.
Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Goat Cheese Burgers
For years, I was never able to understand why anyone would make a burger with anything else besides ground beef, but then I tried ground chicken and, to my surprise, found it to be a fantastic option. ATK understands this very well, which is why they’ve not only included such a recipe, but they’ve given it a nice little twist with the addition of goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
Note: According to ATK, if you’re not a fan of ground chicken and still want a healthy choice, you can substitute ground turkey instead. They also recommend feta in place of goat cheese.
Fennel, Olive, and Goat Cheese Tarts
Whether sweet or savory, it is hard to find anyone who doesn’t love a puff pastry. ATK has included a wonderful savory version that will satisfy even the most demanding connoisseur. The ingredient list for this recipe is a diverse concoction of fennel, garlic, black olives, goat cheese, and white wine, and once assembled, it makes for one of the more interesting, and dare I say exotic, of the ATK cookbook.
Note: While you can make your own puff pastry at home, it is a very long and tedious process, but the good news is that there are many wonderful, ready-made puff pastries on the market that will work splendidly!
Steak tacos may be on my Mount Rushmore of cuisine, so I’m always excited when I come across yet another take on this Mexican icon. Just put together cilantro, scallions, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, and a bit of oil and lime juice into a food processor until you arrive at a nice paste that will be used for both a marinade rub as well as a coating for your finished steak. Sear up that wonderful steak on both sides to a temp of 140 for medium rare, and coat it up with the remainder of your herb-paste/lime-juice mixture.
Note: ATK recommends salsa, minced white onion, thinly sliced radishes, or cucumber as toppings, but of course, you can add other favorites such as diced tomato, cheese, sour cream, and so on… Also, if you’re like me, you have to do it right, which means making your own tortillas. It’s as simple as flour, baking powder, vegetable shortening or butter, some warm water, and a pinch of salt, and you’re on your way!
Honey-mustard Pork Tenderloin with Egg noodles
There’s some debate as to when honey mustard was first introduced into the world. Some say it is as early as the 4th or 5th century, while others claim it was as recently as the 1970s. Either way, this combination of spicy and sweet is a must in any kitchen. In this instance, ATK has used it in a basic pork tenderloin dish with noodles for a very Asian vibe that is simply scrumptious!
Note: Feel free to substitute shallots for the onion and, if you like, sprinkle on a bit of fresh dill.
Herb-Poached Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Salad
What makes this an attractive recipe is that it is straightforward, so much so that even the novice cook can pull it off without fail. Simply place some salmon fillets on tin foil, and coat them with dill, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. Cover with a top foil and bake at a mild 250 degrees for roughly an hour. Whisk together some yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and dill, and mix in your diced cucumber, and you’ll have a tasty dish that you can keep all to yourself or serve to your friends and family!
Note: ATK says that wild salmon or arctic char also work well in this dish.
Lentil Salad with Oranges, Celery, and Feta
There was once a time when a “salad” only consisted of some lettuce and cucumbers topped with a bit of diced tomatoes for flare. Thankfully, the world has progressed, and with it, the salad, which brings us to the ATK Lentil Salad with Oranges, Celery, and Feta. Begin with some lentils and shallots. Follow up with dried mint, orange wedges, and celery ribs. And top off with toasted pecans for crunch. And, of course, do not forget the crumbled feta cheese, and your pallet will simply not know what to do with itself. This recipe is colorful with flavors that are incredibly diverse.
Note: ATK says that you should feel free to substitute grapefruit, apple, or pomegranate seeds for orange.
The meal plans are very diverse. For example, meal plan 03 starts off with Cod baked in foil with leeks and carrots. Second on the list is a recipe for skirt steak with pinto bean salad. This is followed by a roasted pork tenderloin with apples and shallots. Fourth is the delectable shrimp and Oro risotto. And lastly, you are provided with an array of pantry recipes to choose from, including black bean soup with chipotle peppers, grilled cheese with tomato soup,” and “creamy stovetop macaroni and cheese. And the artwork throughout the book is both colorful and vibrant.
Each section lays out the recipe titles and why this meal plan works. A grocery list, prep ahead and make ahead tutorial, and finally, an area dedicated to pantry items. Something else that’s wonderful about this book is that the meal plans and the recipes are not set in stone. This is good news for people like me who have trouble keeping up with any type of strict regimen.
The experts over at America’s Test Kitchen have provided their readers with a very solid game plan, but one that leaves room for interpretation, and interpretation is the hallmark of great cooking. They’ve done so by not only providing an ingredients list but also laying out a wide variety of substitutions so you can tweak things to your liking. If you’re not a fan of apple jelly on your glazed pork chops, bring in some apricot. If bacon on your steak tips is just too blasé, change it up with pancetta. If feta cheese rubs you the wrong way, no worries, just sprinkle a bit of goat cheese instead.
Like all great cookbooks, America’s Test Kitchen provides nutritional info for their recipes and conversions and equivalent charts, but where other works just move on into the recipes, ATK they go much deeper with sections for planning intensive ingredient pre-ahead sessions, avoiding food waste by cross utilizing fresh ingredients, and recommendations to store assembled meal components together, make entire meals ahead of time, make big batches of staples to serve all week, and doubling recipes for “freezer insurance” or intentional leftovers. These masters of the culinary arts also talk about the importance of always having a meal in your back pocket, along with the fact that a stocked pantry saves your bacon! There is even a section titled Ingredient prep school, which covers the best practices of slicing, dicing, and storing your ingredients so that they will be ready for the recipe.
America’s Test Kitchen has created a cookbook that is in line with its goal of presenting information that is of the highest standards. They have clearly done their research and have worked diligently to create a wide array of tantalizing recipes. They have also provided a wonderful guide to help the reader gain an edge in their busy lives by helping them plan and prepare meals for the entire week for the entire family. The recipes are both interesting and incredibly diverse and allow for a personalization that other, more traditional cookbooks avoid. The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook is a clear-cut demonstration that ATK is much more than a place for testing and rating kitchen equipment. They have put together an incredibly informative and inspiring cookbook that will not only help you with your recipe game but also work as a wonderful organizational guide for those looking for a bit more structure in their culinary lives.