Meal planning can certainly prove to be a duanting task, especially if this isn’t your forte and you feel at a loss about where to begin. To simplify the process and also give you some new, easy, and healthy recipes to try, I’m offering you a bird’s eye view of how I meal plan using my weekly meal planner template.
As I established earlier this week, it starts by generating ideas. You can find these in a wealth of places including some of your favorite magazine subscriptions, social media feeds, and the internet. I have to say that in a pinch, Google is the absolute best way to troubleshoot your way into a creative recipe by simply typing several key ingredients you have on hand and letting their search engine capabilities do the rest.
If you’re looking for more ideas and guidance about meal planning, please visit the Birds of a Feather Wellness Facebook or Instagram account.
Without further ado, let’s launch into this week’s meal planner starting with the dinner breakdown for each day of the week. Each day will also include a link to the recipe online (if needed) so that you have everything you need to pull together a great dinner.
Because today is Thursday, I would schedule my curbside grocery pick up at HEB for later this afternoon and move through the week from Thursday through Wednesday. This is important because I try to be mindful of keeping my produce fresh.
Pasta with sauteed chicken, mushrooms, artichokes, and sundried tomatoes
This recipe is a simple and easy way to use fresh and staple items for an easy and delicious weeknight meal. I typically opt for whole wheat pasta but feel free to use the type of pasta that best meets your dietary needs.
Ingredients- 8 oz pasta, 1/2 onion (diced or sliced), 2 cloves garlic (chopped), 1/2 a pint of portabella mushrooms, 1 LB chicken tenders (cubed), 1 jar of sun dried tomatoes, 1 can of artichoke hearts quartered.
In a large pot, boil the pasta per the directions on the package.
In a skillet on medium high heat, add 1 TBS of olive oil from the jarred sun dried tomatoes and sauté half the for 2 to 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Then add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Toss in the chicken (cubed) and sauté until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center. Next add the mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes in oil, and canned artichokes. Cook until the mushrooms, tomatoes and artichokes are warmed through.
Add the cooked, drained pasta to the skillet and mix throughly to evenly distribute the oil. Top with fresh lemon juice and shredded parmesan. Serve with a country-style loaf of bread and a chopped salad.
Crunchy eggs with bacon, hashbrowns, and biscuits or pancakes
Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? There’s a lot of flexibility with this meal, and it’s especially a fan favorite for children. To make this meal more balanced, serve with fresh cherry tomatoes and fresh fruit.
The crunchy eggs really take the traditional fried egg up a notch. Here’s a link to the Real Simple recipe:
A few of my favorite hacks for making this dinner especially great include the following:
- Allow the frozen hashbrowns to thaw completely in the fridge overnight so that they can really brown in the skillet.
- Bake the bacon in the oven at 425. Cook on one side for 4 to 5 minutes. Then flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes. This allows the bacon to be extra crispy! I then use the bacon grease in my eggs for an extra layer of flavor. You can omit this step if you are being health-conscious. I genuinely believe these simple pleasures should be enjoyed in moderation provided that you are exercising regularly and eating mindfully most of the time.
- If you’re pressed for time pre-made frozen biscuits and frozen pancakes are a great time saver.
Steak and grilled peppers and corn on the cob with homemade chimichurri
Fire up the grill for this flavorful summer dinner.
Ingredients: 1 pkg mixed sweet mini peppers, 2 12 oz strip steaks, 3 to 4 ears of corn on the cob (husks removed).
Here’s a link to my favorite chimichurri sauce:
Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Shrimp with Chimichurri Dipping Sauce
Heat the grill to medium.
In a bowl coat the sweet mini peppers with olive olive oil, salt, & pepper. Use a basting brush to coat the corn in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Season the steak with salt and pepper. Transfer all items to a large platter.
Place on the grill and cover. Turn the peppers and corn periodically so that they get a nice char going on all sides. The steak will cook anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes per side depending on your desired preference. When finished, remove from the grill and slice the steaks into strips, then top with the homemade chimichurri sauce. Serve alongside an ear of corn and peppers.
Chicken fried rice
I’m always a fan of ways to shortcut my time in the kitchen. This is where frozen staple and pantry items absolutely save the day. For this recipe I use Tai Pei vegetable fried rice as a starter. Then I use fresh produce and chicken to round the meal out.
Ingredients: frozen fried rice, 1 LB chicken tenders (cubed), 1/2 sweet onion (thinly sliced or diced), 1/2 a pint of mushrooms (sliced), frozen edamame, & PF Changs vegetable egg rolls
In a large skillet on medium high, heat 1 TBS of olive oil. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the cubed chicken and mushrooms, and sauté until cooked through. Remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the package of frozen rice along with 2 teaspoons of oil and water. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the rice starts to brown. Stir occassionally. Add the chicken, mushrooms, and onions and stir to evenly distribute the ingredients. Serve with edamame and egg rolls.
Tacos with rice and beans
This simple recipe can easily be a weekly staple and can be swapped out for ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken.
Taco ingredients- 1.5 LBS ground meat, 1 pkg taco seasoning, 1/2 sweet or white onion (diced), flour or corn tortillas (soft or hard), shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced tomato, diced avocado, and jarred salsa
Rice ingredients- Mi Tienda Mexican rice or your grocery store’s pre-made equivalent, 1 can of black or pinto beans (drained and rinsed), 1/2 cup frozen corn, 1/4 sweet onion (diced), chicken broth
In a large skillet on medium high, sauté onion in 1 TBS olive until translucent. Add the beef and brown. Add the taco seasoning and follow the directions on the package.
On a comal or flat skillet, warm the tortillas if preparing soft tacos. Warm the crunchy tacos in the oven per the directions on the box if your prefernce is cruchy tacos.
In a medium-size pot, sauté the 1/4 onion in olive oil, add the frozen corn and canned beans. Microwave the rice per the package directions and then add the rice to the pot. Add a small amount of chicken broth to keep the rice and beans from drying out. You may have to adjust the amount of broth as you stir the ingredients together. Reduce the temperature to low, and allow to warm through.
Serve the tacos with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, diced avocado, and salsa and plate with rice and beans.
Pulled pork sliders with chopped salads
This is the easiest weeknight meal of all time. It can easily come together in less than 15 minutes. I reserve this one for weeknights I know that I will be especially presssed for time.
Ingredients- HEB natural fully-cooked pulled pork or your favorite grocery store’s equivalent , 1 pkg whole wheat sliders, your favorite barbeque sauce, sliced dill pickles, and a storebought chopped salad kit.
Heat the pulled pork per the directions on the package. Serve on sliders with bbq sauce and pickles. Add a heaping portion of salad to your plate and enjoy.
This is the perfect way to repurpose leftovers. Build this bowl around key ingredient you have on hand or from leftovers from earlier in the week. The important thing to consider when dreaming up your bowl is to integrate at least one protein, some fresh or frozen produce, and a great jarred or homemade sauce. Consider using your favorite salsa, chimichurri, or oil based sauce.
Ingredients- leftover rice and ground beef from Monday’s tacos, shredded lettuce, diced tomato, grated cheese, fresh cilantro (choppped), fresh squeezed lime juice, and salsa
Depending on how much you have leftover you can stretch this recipe with a bag of microwaveable brown rice and canned black or pinto beans.
Warm the rice, beans, and ground beef in a skillet or microwave. Remove the stove and add to a bowl. Top with fresh diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, cilantro, lime juice, and salsa. These can be enjoyed alone or with a side of tortilla chips for an extra crunch.
Weekly Shopping List
Produce– portabello mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes (3 to 4), romaine lettuce (I usually buy the pre-washed, trimmed option), fresh lemons & limes (3 to 4 each), corn on the cob (3 to 4 ears), 1 bunch of cilantro, 1 bunch of parsley, garlic bulb (1 to 2), onion (2 to 3), 1 pkg sweet mini peppers, chopped salad kit (2)
Meat– Chicken tenders, 2 LBS (I usually opt for these over chicken breasts because they cook faster, which saves time in the kitchen. I will use half the package for Thursday’s recipe and then freeze the other half until Sunday’s recipe), skirt steaks (2- 12 oz), 1.5 LBS ground meat of your choice, 1 pkg HEB natural fully-cooked pulled pork
Pantry– tortillas (corn, flour, or boxed crunchy depending on your taco preference), 1 pkg whole wheat slider buns, canned black or pinto beans (at least 2 cans), 1 can of artichoke hearts, microwaveable brown rice, jarred sundried tomatoes, your favorite bbq sauce, sliced pickles
Refrigerated– Mi Tienda Mexican rice or your favorite microweable Mexican or Spanish rice
Frozen– Tai Pei vegetable fried rice, edamame, hashbrowns
The image of my shopping list includes additional items specific to my breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas. I only included the list of ingredients you will need to make the weekly dinners.
I hope you found this bird’s eye view of my weekly meal plan to be both inspiring and helpful. With careful planning each week, you can create healthy, delicious meals that allow you to stay on budget and stay on track with your health and wellness goals.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for this meal plan template or for specific questions regarding meal planning.
Spread your wings & soar in the kitchen,