The Total Grain Bowl Guide + 8 Recipes To Make Your Own

Five years ago I don’t think I’d ever heard the words “grain” and “bowl” together, unless it was some oblique reference to oatmeal. Now grain bowls dominate the Instagram feed and, honestly, my meal prep routine. Here’s why & how I do it.

The grain bowl. What we used to just call “leftovers” is now a thing, with a name, a million recipes, and a hefty price tag if you’re going to order one out. A large grain bowl at a popular vegetarian restaurant can set you back $15-20…and that doesn’t include your $8 matcha on the side. 

Plus those restaurant grain bowls are so packed with goodness that they’re packed with upwards of 1,000 calories. That’s about what you’ll get in a Big Mac and fries. 

What if I told you that an entire week of grain bowls could cost the same… and that they can taste absolutely delicious without being belt-unbuckling calorie bombs?

Mix & Match

A grain bowl is usually a combination of some sort of grain, greens, additional veggies and/or legumes — a mix of raw and cooked veggies makes for great texture — and protein. Really, anything goes.

It’s the ultimate way to upgrade leftovers. Try to configure extra protein — roasted chicken, baked salmon, hard boiled eggs, ground beef or lamb — into your shopping and prepping. Simply throw on a bit more than you need at dinner, amp up the veggies so you’ve got leftovers there too and prep a big pot of quinoa, brown rice, barley or your favourite grain.

The best way to get ready for the week & hit your nutrition goals? Meal prep. 

Voila! Add on a few favourite flavour bombs — more on that later — and you’ve got a week of grain bowls to make your Instagram followers drool and your coworkers wonder how you do it. 

Here are 8 make-ahead recipes to get you started… then let your imagination run wild! 

Perfect Quinoa

Dry-Poached Chicken Breasts

Roasted Carrots & Beets With Dill

Lemon-y Marinated Lentils

Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork “Carnitas”

Tex-Mex Quinoa & Black Beans

Crispy Fried Tofu

Try New Things.

A grain bowl is a great time to try new combinations of foods and even grains and veggies that are new to you, since you can mix them in with familiar foods into one big, yummy bowl of magic.

Like quinoa? Try pearl barley or couscous, both delicious dressed in a bowl & easy to prep on Sunday.

Like salmon? Try grilled tuna, smoked salmon, or even canned mackerel or sardines, packed with healthy fats.

Like lentils? Try crunch oven baked chickpeas or a quick 3-bean salad dressed with olive oil + red wine vinegar.

Like spinach? Try steaming a batch of kale, asparagus, or sugar snap peas you can reheat or add cold each day.

Bomb It With Flavour.

Sure, olive oil + a good red wine or balsamic vinegar can pull together a bowl of random ingredients like magic. But if you’re prepping bowls for the whole week, it can be great to have a few aces up your sleeve

Plus, try picking up a few simple flavour bombs at the store to mix it up through the week:

  • olives, salsa and basically anything with ingredients you can pronounce from the condiment aisle
  • pickled asparagus, mushrooms, hot peppers, eggplant or artichokes
  • sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, or your fave chopped raw nuts
  • roasted green peas or chickpeas
  • feta, blue or bocconcini cheese
  • avocado, fresh berries & chunks of watermelon work well with protein and greens too!

Tried and true.

Simply starting the week with a few basics:

  • a pot of cooked grains
  • some pre-washed salad greens
  • a prepped protein source
  • a few fun veggies, fruits, & flavour bombs to mix in

…is really all you  need. There is no such thing as a bad grain bowl as long as it’s full of stuff you love!

For inspiration, here are a few combinations you can shop and prep for in advance.

Mix it up week by week!

  • grilled salmon + brown rice + arugula + marinated artichokes + fresh lemon
  • dry-poached or grilled chicken + pearl barley + spinach + quickly sautéed mushrooms
  • tex-mex quinoa + black beans + avocado + tomato + spicy chickpeas
  • grilled salmon or tuna + new potatoes + tomato + green beans
  • chicken or pork + quinoa + arugula + roasted peppers + feta

Hope this helps! Tag me when you invent your own epic grain bowls & post them on Instagram to share your combos!

xo

D.

 

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