Hi, my name is Katie and I’m a lunch packer.
If you’ve been hanging around here for any length of time you’ve probably already figured this out. I plan meals. I pack meals. I prep in advance. One might even say I’m a bit compulsive about it, but I don’t care. I like having all of my ducks in a row, and I dislike having to think about what to eat. I also dislike feeling frenzied in the morning before work, so I really like when everything is done in advance.
Please know that this is essentially the only aspect of my life in which I’m this organized. In every other way I’m pretty much a complete disaster. I’m chronically late, my hair is a mess because I attempt to cut the back myself between appointments, I don’t know much about makeup or shoes, and although I exercise often it is somewhat begrudgingly. We’re all just people, right?
Anyways, I’m a lunch packer. So I’m sure you can imagine that when I go traveling and I’m not home during my normal lunch packing /organizing time AND our return flight gets us home in the wee hours of Monday morning when I’ve got to be at the office by 9, I’ve got a problem. What the heck am I going to do about lunch?
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like you to meet my BFF, my main squeeze, and the apple of my manic meal-planning eye, THE FREEZER!
I can’t tell you how many times individual portions of healthy meals stashed in the freezer has saved my butt. Remember last summer when I came back from my vacation with a broken ankle? That sucked. But luckily I had made a batch of freezer burritos before I went away, so I had lunches sorted for the first week I was back at work.
Those times I was working bonkers long hours AND getting up in the wee hours of the morning to work on my thesis? Coming back from Istanbul in the wee hours of Monday morning? Thank you freezer! And thank you ME for having the foresight to make freezer burritos in the first place.
Who doesn’t need a handy batch of burritos in their freezer? No one, that’s who! These black bean and quinoa burritos whip up pretty quickly, and they freeze and reheat like a charm.
Why quinoa? Well, the rice that is so often the filler turns burritos into a carb on carb situation (read the nutrition info on your tortillas, they’re often equivalent to 2 or 3 slices of bread) so I’ve replaced it with the protein-rich super-seed. Black beans, corn, and a whole mess of veggies round the situation out into a tasty and nutritious meal.
I used a bit of jalapeño cheese in my burritos because hello, cheese + burrito = delicious, but it’s totally not necessary and can easily be left out for a 100% vegan burrito. Also, you totally don’t have to freeze these. You could whip them up and have a big old burrito bonanza on the spot if you’d prefer. But if you *do* want to freeze them I fully encourage individually wrapping those cute little burrito butts in foil or parchment and tossing them in the freezer for another day.
To enjoy your freezer burrito you can a) bake it in the oven from frozen, b) microwave it (take off the foil first!) or c) let it defrost and enjoy at room temp. It’s the easiest packed lunch ever because you’ve done the work way in advance. I promise you, you won’t regret it one bit.
Black beans are a good source of folate, dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin K. The protein-plus-fiber combination in black beans is one of the things that makes them special. A one cup serving contains 15g of fiber (over half of the daily recommended intake), and 15g of protein. Much of the fiber is indigestible, which supports digestive health, particularly in the lower part of our digestive tract. The protein-fiber combination is also key in stabilizing blood sugar levels, as both protein and fiber move through our digestive systems at a moderate pace. Black beans are also rich in soluble fiber, which is helpful for lowering blood cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health. You know what they say, beans beans good for the heart… but if the second part of that rhyme concerns you, be sure to discard the soaking water when cooking dried beans. You’ll be tossing out a good amount of flatulence causing compounds, as well as some of the phytates and tannins that lower nutrient availability.
Quinoa not only has a very high protein content (about 18%), but this super seed also contains a complete set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, and is high in magnesium and iron.
Two years ago: Goat Cheese, Arugula, and Honey Baguette
- 2 Tbsp canola or grape seed oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ - 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely minced
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned are all fine)
- 1 large tomato, dice
- 1 cup cooked quinoa (from about ½ cup uncooked
- 3 cups cooked black beans (2 cans)
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chile powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ a bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup shredded jalapeño cheese (optional)
- 6 large whole wheat tortillas
- Start by getting all of your chopping out of the way, it'll help everything come together faster once you start cooking. Chop the onion, crush the garlic, mince the jalapeño, dice the zucchini and red pepper, and set everything into little bowls or on plates. Now you're ready to go!
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and sauté for about 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and beginning to take on a bit of colour.
- Add the garlic and jalapeños and sauté for about 2 minutes more.
- Now add the zucchini and red pepper and sauté for 8-10 minutes. The vegetables should be softened but not mushy, and just starting to brown.
- At this point add the corn, and tomato and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is well heated. Add the quinoa, black beans, cumin, smoked paprika, chile, and salt. Stir to combine well.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Stir in the cilantro, and remove from the heat.
- Now you're ready to roll! Divide the burrito filling between the six tortillas (or more if you want smaller burritos), sprinkle with cheese if desired, and roll!
- If you're freezing the burritos, wrap individually in foil or parchment paper, and place in a single layer in the freezer. You can totally stack 'em, the worst case is that they may be a bit misshapen, but I assure you your stomach will never know.
- To enjoy your freezer burrito you can plan ahead and pull one out of the freezer the night before, or just grab one straight from the freezer in the morning. I let mine thaw beside me on my desk, then heat it up in the office microwave at lunch time. Enjoy!