Halal Meal Prep 1 | How we plan meals for a healthy Ramadan

How a Moroccan-Finnish family does halal meal prep and plans the food for the month of Ramadan. Come follow the preparations we do in a mixed culture family in Finland, North Europe, before fasting on Ramadan time. I have created for you a Moroccan kitchen staples shopping list to stay up to date when cooking Moroccan dishes.

Four turquoise handmade bowls alined, filled with roasted almonds, sesame seeds, and flour.

The time for fasting sneaks in so fast every year, I swear. However, you think you have prepared yourself better than last year you notice that tomorrow it starts again and you still have 17 different things that you planned to do. Ramadan is the biggest of the celebrations of Islam for it lasts the whole month of Ramadan. You know, like Christians would celebrate the whole month of December for Christmas, AND fast the daytime before the Christmas Eve feast. You don’t know the exact dates of Ramadan beforehand. It has estimated starting and finishing dates, but the Islamic calendar follows the moon, so it might be the estimated date or then the next one. You know it just one day before.

In this article, we go through Planning and Shopping. In Halal Meal Prep 2, we will go more into the Meal prep and Prepping the different ingredients.

The planning

The planning starts in families, like ours, already maybe a month in advance – at least on the mental level. Searching recipes and planning shopping lists. Comparing prices and figuring out what was done last year to do this year better. In this article, I will emphasize the food planning and the healthy aspects of halal meal prep for Ramadan time, and not dig into the religious sides of the fasting time.

Basically, the time to eat and drink is after dusk and before dawn. The Arabic word halal means “allowed”, so the food that is allowed with the guidance and regulations found in Muslim scripture in Qur’an. The time limitations give a challenge for mamas to nourish the family well, even though the meal time is mainly just in the evening. The importance of planning is emphasized when the meals are fewer than on a normal day. I focus on healthy ingredients and proteins maybe even more than normal.

When choosing whole ingredients instead of ready meals, you are already making so much healthier choices.

Tips for planning for the halal meal prep

  • Pay attention to the dietary restrictions in the family. When implementing a halal diet, it means mostly focusing on halal meats, skipping pork products and any alcohol-based products. Make sure you have something that fits in a vegan diet if needed and some vegetarian options as well to have some variety.
  • Reserve plenty of water for the evening.
  • Stock dry ingredients already in advance so you can do the last shopping for the fresh ingredients only days before and quick stock-ups during the week.
  • Stock up the meat and freeze it in smaller portions to ease the thawing and use. Finland is a country with about 60% Christians, so halal meat is not available in every shop, only in the special shops run by Arabs so we do buy meat in bulk and freeze it on a regular basis.
  • Reserve dates for breaking the fast. It is good for the stomach and gives energy after a long day of fasting.
  • Prepare single ingredients so that you can use them more versatile in different meals. I can tell you, that when fasting there are lots of different cravings and you really don’t want to eat the same food every evening.
  • Focus on healthy fats, proteins, and fresh ingredients.

Grocery haul and shopping for the halal meal prep

We start normally stock up the dry ingredients quite early. This year we made a last-minute trip just a week before Ramadan, so it mixed up the preparation schedule, and I had to be quite efficient and productive the last days to get some healthy meals for the family. I assure you, I am a very quick prepper when needed, thanks to my years working in restaurants.

Meat and other proteins

I focus on easy meats like halal chicken breasts, ground beef, and lamb. With all that we are ready to do any Moroccan-style tagine, soups, pizza, meatballs, you name it. Some mamas marinate the meats already before freezing, but I have found it for our lifestyle too restrictive – what if I had wanted chicken but a different marinade just for today?

Frozen halal ground beef and chicken packed in the plastic bags in the freezer drawer.

Eggs, eggs, eggs. We have a crazy amount of eggs. I boil some before, to have easy protein snacks if we decide the wake up at 4 am to have breakfast before dawn. Eggs are awesome to have the “evening breakfast”, the first meal after breaking the fast. We cook some on the skillet and top it with some Feta cheese, olives, and crushed garlic. And a splash of olive oil. Y-u-m-m-y.

Alongside animal proteins, we stock some white beans, chickpeas, almonds, and nuts. Beans and chickpeas go mainly to vegetable soups like tomatobased harira and nuts and almonds are for snacking or several Moroccan sweets, that we go through in Halal Meal Prep 2.

Spices, herbs and sauces

I go through and organize my spice and her cupboard and fill them all up. Nothing is worse than bland food. In Moroccan kitchens staples the spices are very important. The main ones I could say are turmeric, paprika, cumin, and coriander. Other good ones to have are for example the fennel seeds, cinnamon, and saffron, when cooking Moroccan sweets.

We stock fresh herbs for cooking too. Parsley, coriander, and of course some fresh mint, to do some Moroccan Mint Tea.

Hand holding tight a bouquet of mint against the dark wooden surface.
Fresh mint bush for the Moroccan Mint Tea.

For baking, I buy some orange blossom water, which is not so easy to find in Finland. Normally I have to settle for an artificial orange blossom water. It is quite okay when doing some chebakia for example, though I would prefer the real one. Honey is something that is used a ton in Moroccan baking. I buy real honey from a local farmer when possible. I use honey syrup, which is more affordable, for the chebakia where you need to dunk the chebakia biscuits in so there goes like 1 kilo for the recipe. The sesame paste, tahini, I buy from the shop if I have no time to make my own.

Hands flattening the msemen dough on a wooden table next to window, with semolina jar and olive oil bottle on the side.

Olive oil is one of the most important ingredients in Moroccan cooking. Not only for healthy benefits but the flavors too! We use it in making Moroccan bread, in egg breakfasts, dipping the bread in it, in salads, in Moroccan sweets like chebakia, and well – in all cooking to get healthy fats. It is one of the most important things for the well-being of our skin and a healthy lifestyle.

Dry pantry

I stock some jasmine rice for the dry pantry, for I love the bit sticky rice more than anything with chicken or a vegetable sauce. Some couscous for Friday’s couscous days. Lots of flour and semolina for baking some Moroccan bread like harcha, msemen, and batbout. Some vermicelli for harira soup and cane sugar for the baking too.

Fruits and vegetables

Fruits and veggies are the last ones to stock up. That is for us normally the last day’s job. Alongside tomatoes and cucumber, we buy eggplants for baba ganoush or vegetable sauces with sweet pepper. Zucchini for couscous, celery for harira, and of course, some potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic and onions, reds and yellows.

Bananas, apples, and pears we eat as snacks or in smoothies with frozen strawberries and dates. Yes, LOTS of dates. Some oranges for orange juice too to have a fresh and healthy juice after breaking the fast.

Dairy

We keep in the fridge always milk and yogurt for smoothies or to eat with some granola. Natural soft cheese, like La vache qui rit, for spreads and making our own herb spreads or some kefir to make soft cheese ourselves. A salty cheese like feta is always in our fridge, it goes so perfectly with the morning eggs as I mentioned before.

Fingers pulling away grey cheese cloth revealing a homemade kefir soft cheese block on a wooden cutting board.
Some freshly made kefir soft cheese, so yummy!

What next?

After all the planning, shopping and stocking is time to make some Halal Meal Prep to ease up the work in the kitchen when you don’t have that much energy to do. So let’s continue to Halal Meal Prep 2!

Pin it for later!

Moroccan kitchen staples list with different categories of ingredients used in Moroccan cuisine, Glas jar of almonds is fallen on it and almonds are lying half covering the paper.

Try some Moroccan recipes

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