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Big-Batch Meal Prep Plan: Zoodle Edition

After kale anything and cauliflower rice, zucchini noodles (aka zoodles) might just be the most famous vegetable on the internet. We’ve already talked about the wonders of prepping big batches of chicken and quinoa. Now it’s time to talk our other favorite meal base: vegetable noodles.

Why We Love Meal Prep

The hardest part of cooking on a weeknight is the prep. It’s not the cooking that makes you want to give up so much as the 20 minutes of slicing and dicing before you can even get to that part. So this weekend, let Saturday You do School Night You a favor and meal prep a whole bunch of spiralized vegetables that you can turn into multiple dinners all week long.

What You’ll Need

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Food: 

  • Zucchini (so many zucchini)

Not Food: 

  • Spiralizer or julienne peeler
  • Food storage bags and/or containers
  • Permanent marker and/or masking tape, for labeling

How to Make Veggie Noodles with a Spiralizer

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There is seriously no faster way to process fresh vegetables than with a spiralizer. Once you get your spiralizer set up, you can transform a whole zucchini into a pile of noodles in about 10 seconds.

To start, trim off the rounded ends of the zucchini. Press one flat end against the spiked surface attached to the handle (above left) and the other flat end flush against the blade (above right). Start cranking, moving the sliding handle piece closer to the blade as you go. Piles of fresh vegetable noodles will come out the other side.

Most spiralizers come with multiple blade shapes. In addition to the round- and triangle-cut blades used to make “spaghetti,” spiralizers often come with a ribbon-cut blade that makes wide, flat “fettucine” noodles:

Zucchini Noodles and Turkey Meatballs

A few tips for getting the best results with your spiralizer:

  • The smooth motion of a spiralizer blade will create long continuous noodles—we’re talking multiple feet long—before you know it. For a length more similar to spaghetti noodles, cut larger zucchini into shorter sections before spiralizing. You could also stop every so often and cut the noodles as you go.
  • The suction cup under your spiralizer will adhere best to a clean counter. If there’s any oil or crumbs on the surface, the motion of the spiralizer may cause the suction cup to loosen or release as you go.
  • Rinse your blade immediately after you finish to remove any pieces of vegetable or peel. The blades are usually dishwasher safe, but once a piece of zucchini peel has dried onto the steel, it an outlast a dishwasher cycle.

How to Make Veggie Noodles with a Julienne Peeler

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Another way to make zucchini noodles is with a piece of kitchen equipment called a julienne peeler. If you have a small kitchen and want to save space, or want to experiment a bit with veggie noodle recipes before taking the plunge and purchasing a countertop spiralizer, this is a great tool. Like the name suggests, it’s a vegetable peeler with a special blade that cuts vegetables into very thin (“julienne”) strips as you go.

While a countertop spiralizer can create long noodles from even small vegetables because of its spiral motion, the noodles you get from a julienne peeler will only be as long as the vegetables you start with. We bought zucchini that were about 5-6 ounces in weight, which yielded strips around 6 inches long. Those crazy-big garden zucchini you see in the summer would give you extra long noodles perfect for twirling (and twirling, and twirling) around a fork.

How Many Zoodles Does One Zucchini Yield?

A common question about spiralizing is how much “pasta” one zucchini yields. That definitely depends on what you’re starting with, so your mileage will vary. But for a visual, this is the amount of zucchini noodles we got from one medium (5- to 6-oz) zucchini:

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How to Store Spiralized Zucchini Noodles

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After you’ve turned vegetables into noodles like some sort of wizard, divide your zoodles into storage bags or containers. We like to do this based on how much you’ll need for recipes (either by cup or by number of zucchini in each bag). Zoodles are almost always cooked in liquid, so it’s okay if a little moisture collects inside a sealed bag during the week, but you can also place a folded-up paper towel inside each bag to absorb that extra moisture if you prefer.

3 Meal-Prep Recipes to Make with Zoodles

Now let’s get to the good stuff—what to make with your spiralized zucchini noodles! These are three of our favorites.

Chicken Pad Thai Zoodle Bowls

Recipe #1: Chicken Pad Thai Zoodle Bowls

So many veggies! This DIY version of the Thai staple uses zucchini noodles AND carrot noodles.

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Meal Prep Bonus: In addition to prepping your veggie noodles, you can cut up the chicken thighs into pieces ahead to time, too.

Chicken Zoodle Soup

Recipe #2: Chicken Zoodle Soup

Just as comforting as the classic, with so many fewer carbs. Just 9 grams per serving, to be exact (compared to our similar Southern Chicken and Dumpling Soup, with 22 grams per serving).

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Skillet Zoodles and Meatballs

Recipe #3: Skillet Zoodles and Meatballs

Ah, spaghetti—the veggie-noodle swap that started it all. These homemade Italian meatballs are so freaking good, you won’t even miss the pasta.

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Meal Prep Bonus: You can mix and form the meatballs ahead of time to save even more day-of prep work. Just make sure to refrigerate uncooked meatballs inside a sealed container to keep your food safe.

Grocery List

Besides the zucchini, here’s what you’ll need to make each recipe. (Note: We’re assuming you already have salt, pepper and olive oil in your pantry.)

Chicken Pad Thai Zoodle Bowls

  • 20 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Eggs (recipe calls for 2 eggs)
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
  • Fresh garlic
  • 1 lime
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Vegetable oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Soy sauce
  • Chopped peanuts

Chicken Zoodle Soup

  • 2 cups shredded deli rotisserie chicken
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • Fresh garlic
  • 2 cartons (32 oz each) Progresso™ chicken broth

Skillet Zoodles and Meatballs

  • 1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • Milk
  • Eggs (recipe calls for 1 egg)
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • 1 jar (25.5 oz) Muir Glen™ organic tomato basil pasta sauce
  • Progresso™ Italian style panko crispy bread crumbs
  • Worcestershire sauce

More Veggie Noodle Recipes

You can definitely spiralize more than just zucchini. Spiralized carrots, cucumbers and apples taste great in salads, and sweet potato and butternut squash noodles make a terrific base for many pasta sauces. Or spiralize regular potatoes and cook in oil for homemade shoestring fries. There’s really no limit!

Knowledge is power! Let Tablespoon teach you how to cook.


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