Meal Planning with Spiralized Vegetables

Meal Planning with Spiralized Vegetables

Whether you’re meal prepping today for a week of healthy lunches or you’re making dinner tonight and want leftovers for lunch tomorrow, this information is for you.

How long can I save spiralized vegetables in the refrigerator? Can they be frozen?

For your easy access, I’ve created a list of all common spiralizable vegetables. On this list, I’ve included how to prepare each vegetable, how to cook it, what its best uses are, which blade works best and most importantly, best practices for storage. To access this list, click here.

FYI: zucchini and cucumber noodles do not freeze well.

Which spiralized vegetables work best for prepared lunches?

All vegetables work best for prepared lunches. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind with certain vegetables:

  • Zucchini & Cucumbers: if using these vegetables, make sure that the noodles are separate from any sauce or dressing. By separating, you avoid excess moisture building up and making a soggy mess. If you really want to use zucchini noodles, try adding elements that will soak up that moisture (such as leafy greens – ie kale, cheese, etc)
  • Apples & Pears: fruits brown quickly and lose their crispness, so unless you’re planning on eating the meal that day or you don’t mind a little browning and soft fruit noodles, avoid spiralizing these in advance.
  • Kohlrabi, Jicama, Daikon Radishes: if you’re using these raw and fitting them into a container, beware: they’ll snap easily when packed tightly.
  • Beets: Beets are messy raw and less messy when cooked, so when packing in advance – keep this in mind and plan accordingly (wouldn’t want to ruin those slacks or that crisp white blouse at your desk, would you?)
  • Butternut Squash: If you haven’t noticed yet, butternut squashes tend to over-soften quickly when cooked – they break up easily and aren’t the sturdiest (but are dang delicious!) Keep this in mind, in case you had your heart set on a full pasta-like experience for lunch.

In general:

    • Raw
      • Zucchini (separated from sauce/dressing)
      • Cucumber (separated from sauce/dressing)
      • Onion
      • Chayote
      • Kohlrabi
      • Jicama
      • Carrot
    • Cooked
      • Potatoes (all kind)
      • Parsnip
      • Rutabaga
      • Kohlrabi
      • Daikon Radish
      • Celeriac
      • Carrot
      • Broccoli stem

Which types of spiralized meals work best for prepared lunches?

If you’ve got access to a kitchen at your office or wherever you are at lunchtime, I suggest spiralizing the vegetables and cooking them in advance, and keeping the noodles separate from the sauce/dressing. When it’s time to eat, just reheat the sauce and add to the pre-cooked noodles (the sauce will heat up the noodles)!

If you’d like to make the complete meal in advance, these types of meals save the best:

  • “Raw”/cold dishes: If the dish requires no cooking or is better served chilled, it’s a win-win!
  • Spiralized rice: since rice dishes tend to not be made with vegetables that release excess moisture, they’re perfect for prepping completely in advance and reheating.
  • Non-zucchini noodle dishes with ragu-type sauces: If you’re making a bolognese over sweet potato noodles, this can easily be reheated and enjoyed. However, if you’re making a zucchini noodle dish with a bolognese, the water content in the zucchini noodles will thin out the bolognese and take away from its originally delicious flavor.
  • Non-zucchini noodle dishes with sauces: Similar to the ragu-type sauces tip above, any type of sauce can be used with spiralized vegetables and can be reheated for lunch.
  • Dishes with no sauce: If your recipe doesn’t call for a heavy sauce, that’s perfect – it will reheat well. Bonus points for recipes with cheese – the heated cheese will melt nicely into the noodles. This works with zucchini noodles!
  • Pesto pastas: Pesto sauces work well with all vegetables and reheat well. Actually, the olive oil in the pesto works to our advantage with zucchini noodles. Throw in some kale, spinach or another vegetable that will absorb excess moisture, and you’ve got a pesto pasta, fit for lunch!
  • Noodle dishes or soups that don’t call for zucchini noodles: If you make a big batch of a spiralized noodle bowl or soup, you can definitely reheat it for lunch – unless it uses zucchini noodles. I don’t recommend this, since zucchini noodles will again thin out the soup and make it less flavorful altogether. However, it’s total personal preference, at the end of the day.
  • Wraps and sandwiches: any noodle, any ingredient – collard green wraps (or any type of sandwich wraps) work brilliantly! Just wrap tightly in tinfoil or paper and secure with tape when packing for lunch.
  • Spiralized salads: As long as there aren’t any fruit noodles in there, spiralized salads generally work well if they’re pre-made, as long as they don’t include zucchini or cucumber noodles (which can cause a soggy salad!)
  • Casseroles: If you eat hearty lunches, then you’re in luck: non-zucchini noodle casseroles work fabulously when reheated.

What are the best containers for saving prepared spiralized lunches?

The container that keeps your prepped spiralized veggies, meals and sauces/dressing should be air-tight! I buy a pack of containers that come in various sizes so that I have options, depending on the type of meal I’m making. This Rubbermaid set has all types of sizes, perfect for packaging spiralized veggies, dressings, and sauces.

Lunch Recipe Roundup

If you’re still stumped, I’ve created a Pinterest board full of all of my recipes that can be cooked in advance and reheated for lunch (or dinner!) Click the image below to access the Pinterest board:

Inspiralized Meals for Lunch Meal Planning

Comments

  1. Hello, How many zucchini will I need if I am preparing zucchini noodles for a family of 4? I have two young kids 8 and 4. Thanks.Nicole
    • There are a number of variables, such as the size of your zucchinis, the size of your appetites, and also what else you will be serving with the meal. I find I can easily eat one whole medium-to-large zuke myself and I'm a slim-to-average sized adult female. One zucchini that is big enough to spiralize creates a generous pile of noodles. I once made a zucchini noodle dish for a small dinner party. I figured on one zuke per person but ended up with some leftovers. If it's you, hubby, and two small kids you'd probably be fine with three decent sized zucchini.
  2. If you want to make apple or pear noodles ahead of time, you can probably get away with it if you dip them in dilute vinegar or lemon juice for a few seconds after preparation. This is the trick they recommend to prevent oxidation when they are sliced ahead of time. I haven't spiralized them before (organic are too expensive for my budget), but you could give it a try if you want.
    • Sometimes my inspirilizer won't work so I have to use my mandoline instead. And it works just as well. But again I've never figured out which blades are for what vegetables because there is no indication on the unit whatsoever!!!!
  3. When perusing your book I came upon a list of powders which you recommended should be in our pantries such as onion powder and Stilton cheese powder. Subsequently I have been searching to find it again and failing miserably. Please remind me of its source! At 82 years of age I hope it isn't signs of my suffering from dementia. When perusing.............

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